Top ten books on sex...

(Tim, w/thanks to Mick) Here's a top-ten reading list for those looking to reform their understanding of the meaning and purpose of the sexes as God created them.

  1. Scripture, starting with these texts
  2. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House
  3. Paul King Jewett: Man as Male and Female
  4. Stephen B. Clark: Man and Woman in Christ
  5. Walter Neuer: Man and Woman in Christian Perspective
  6. Steven Ozment: When Fathers Ruled
  7. G. K. Chesterton: What's Wrong With the World or The Thing
  8. Doug Wilson: Reforming Marriage
  9. George Eliot: Middlemarch
  10. Ivan Turgenev: Fathers and Sons

Now, ten explanations...

of my recommendations:

  1. Scripture: Some may quibble with my selection, which is fine. Anyhow, this is my own list of the texts I think should be carefully examined in order to come to a Biblical, and therefore a right understanding of the meaning and purpose of sex.
  2. Ibsen: There's no better place to make a short investment of time toward a good understanding of the wickedness of feminism evident from its beginning. A propagandist of the first order, Ibsen gets to the nub of the issue quickly. Try reading it one evening with a reading group, each taking his and her part. It's a play, so it shouldn't be difficult to complete.
  3. Jewett: A Fuller Theological Seminary prof, Jewett's work serves as the locus classicus of the feminism that claims to honor Scripture. But it’s a fools task. As the late feminist Mary Daly put it, "Christianity is hopelessly patriarchal." Jewett was one of the few honest enough to say Scripture said it and Scripture was wrong. Don't waste your time on any other feminist tracts.
  4. Clark: If you read nothing else, you simply must read Clark. He's far and away the best on God's Creation Order of man and woman. Nothing comes close. Buy your own copy and mark it all up.
  5. Neuer: A translation from the German, Neuer is shorter than Clark, but also helpful as a Biblical theology of sexuality. Don't read Neuer unless you've first read Clark.
  6. Ozment: Men who liken themselves to the Reformers rarely understand how central to the Reformation was the restoration of the dignity of fatherhood. Ozment is a Reformation scholar of the first order and his fascinating work provides the historical goods on the battle for fatherhood at the heart of the theological reform of the Reformation.
  7. Chesterton: If you think working through the Divine meaning of manhood and womanhood can't be delightful; and if you're a woman bent low under the attack of our culture on those who have given themselves to being a housewife and mother, reading Chesterton will go a long way to restoring joy and merriment to your life.
  8. Wilson: If I get one go at a man who claims the Name of Jesus while despising work, authority, marriage, and children, it's Wilson for sure. There's no better book for reforming unbiblical marriages and men. Our church has always had multiple copies on hand and yours should, too. But be warned: Wilson's perspicuity and manliness in controversy has blessed him with many enemies.
  9. Eliot: This is a long and detailed introduction to the world of women. Men who are insensitive brutes or disembodied intellectuals would do well to get here the understanding of their sisters, mothers, and wives they may never have reached in real life.
  10. Turgenev: Women and men who want to come to a deeper understanding of what Freddie Mercury was talking about when he sang "father to son to son" could do worse than this by Turgenev. Across time and space, rebellion and father hunger are constants in the life of man.

If I go to eleven, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood makes it. A work from the mainstream evangelical world, RBMW has the weaknesses of a compilation of essays and it's best understood as an exercise in dialog with feminists claiming to be evangelicals. Of particular note are two chapters: Piper and Grudem's "Questions and Answers" and "The Church as Family" by Vern Poythress.

Happy reading.

* * *

Readers may also want to check out Rick Phillips' just-published The Masculine Mandate.



A few people have mentioned Reforming Marriage. I read it and Federal Husband about 14 years ago. I dug them out because I remembered them being very useful and wanted to recommend them.

I had liked the sections in both books on Efficacious Love but scanning the Marriage Bed chapter, it's good stuff, the sort of stuff young men need to read after reading David Canfield's book ... and be told by their fathers very early on.


"Top ten books on sex"

Well, my response was more about sex. Gotta remember that Tim really means "gender" - he's so imprecise.

On the horror of feminism, I would add "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin. It does a great job of summing up the crass self-love of the feminist view in just a few short pages.

Thanks, Tai. Do you have a copy? David

"That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis is not really about sex, but it really is almost entirely about sex.

Tim...I keep telling you to read it...

>>"Top ten books on sex" Well, my response was more about sex.

I was right there with you Clint.

Tim hasn't read, "That Hideous Strength"???!?!!!!

Oh my.

Except for Tim's reason for including that horrible Ibsen play, I'd say it should be replaced with the CSL book. But I think he's right that "Doll's House" is useful for reminding us how selfish feminism has been from the beginning.


"Wilson's perspicuity and manliness in controversy has blessed him with many enemies."

Chris and I have also been blessed with some enemies vicariously through Wilson. Chris had 4 people get up and walk out of his Sunday school class while teaching this book recently at our reformed church. It's not the first time this book has made us some enemies, either.

"Chris had 4 people get up and walk out of his Sunday school class while teaching this book recently at our reformed church."

Dear Leslie,

You and Chris moved before Dawn and I moved back so we haven't had the privilege of getting to know you. But based on what you wrote above and recalling my own experiences in a past church, I love Chris already!

Marilyn French's "The Women's Room" made the rounds when I was in college. It fascinated me at the time - but re-reading it just a few years ago . . .I can't believe how ghastly it is and can't believe I ever "fell for" what it was trying to say to women.

Middlemarch is a worthy antidote.


Tim, wasn't Jewett an egalitarian?

If we're talking gender I would add Martha Peace's the Excellent Wife to the list.

AH, I just saw the explanation of JEwett.

What do you expect from a Presbyterian who wrote a book in favor of credo-Baptism ?! He was obviously a very confused man.

The more you read about old Fuller, the more concerned you get.

>>I would add Martha Peace's the Excellent Wife to the list.

Yes, a good book.


I remember going to see "A Doll's House" when it was playing during my freshman year in college. Oh, how everyone was sympathetically sniffing with the "heroine" in the story, as she talked about how her children have become nothing but "dolls" to her....before she leaves them, that is.

To get a free (except for printing costs, which do add up) copy of A Doll's House, go to:

I recommend home playreadings. I hosted a lot of them as a grad student, and they make for a fun party. Comedies worked best, but Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Tempest also worked.

First play I read in college? A Doll's House, right before Lysistrata. Maybe I should reread That Hideous Strength, "The Head" cracked me up but I like The UnMan in Perelandra best.

I've been very shocked that Wilson hasn't been more read at CGS, but I figured it must be because we already get that sort of teaching without Wilson's books, as today's sermon fit very well with what I love about Federal Husband.

Some people seem to need things in print to believe them.


I am so glad to Stephen Baker's comment on "That Hideous Strength" having just taught that book. That is exactly what we talked about as we read through the book... God's plan for men, women, marriage, male and female... and to be honest I quote Pastor Bayly many times as I taught.
Thank you for your sound teaching!

Please excuse my errors... I was not careful. The first sentence should have said, "I am so thankful to have READ ... " Towards the end another sentence should have said, "I quoted" rather than 'I quote.' Oh what would my students, past and present, say?
Thank you,

I remember reading "A Doll's House" in high school. I hated it but couldn't explain precisely why - I remember being frustrated because I couldn't say exactly what was wrong about the whole situation, and I didn't have the insight to attack what Ibsen was trying to say.

I think that one's going back on the reading list.

>>"That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis is not really about sex, but it really is almost entirely about sex.

Tim...I keep telling you to read it...

I second Stephen

So, I started re-reading "Hideous Stength" today. The first three paragraphs tell you there will be trouble - neither Mark nor Jane Studdock have any imagination whatsoever and that makes a person vulnerable to being led in the wrong direction, I think . . .

I mean, Clint: Can you really fault me?


I own, but have not read, Clark. His Romanism doesn't detract from the book's value?

Well, sure it does. But detracting from greatness is, in this case, still greatness.


I would add to your list your faithful commenter Bill Mouser's study on masculinity, The Five Aspects of Man. We are going through it at my church with about 20 men and it's very stimulating, very biblical and very masculine. (So far I have had one man not return after the first session, hasn't been to church since either). I bet the Five Aspects of Woman is an excellent compliment.

Great list, thanks for posting.

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