Designed For Joy: A Book Review

Soon after getting engaged and with the intention of learning more about Biblical manhood and Biblical womanhood, my fiancé and I read Designed For Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice. At just 133 pages long, it doesn’t look too impressive at first glance, but it is jam-packed with wisdom and truth.

Its foreword is written by John Piper, and the body of the text is comprised of thirteen relatively short articles by influential believers. The articles cover topics like headship and submission, God’s fatherly discipline, purity, transgenderism, and feminism.

I loved every page of it. My copy is highlighted through and through and marked up with notes. The discussions that stemmed from my fiancé and I reading it together were also quite beneficial.

Personally, my favorite chapter was “Masculinity Handed Down” by Joe Rigney.


In “Masculinity Handed Down” Rigney describes Biblical manhood by sharing seven hopes he has for his sons. From a hope that they would celebrate the wonders of femininity to a prayer that they would practice self-control for the joy in it, all of Rigney’s points are things that I would hope and pray for my sons, should I have sons some day. Read below for the summarizing final lines of “Masculinity Handed Down.”

“Christ is the ground of our masculinity. He took Adamic humanity into the grave with Him and emerged with a new way to be human and a renewed way of being a man. Unlike Adam, Christ killed the dragon to get the girl. And He killed the dragon by dying Himself. When He saw His bride heading down the broad road to destruction, what did He do? He didn’t blame, He bled. He didn’t damn, He died. He didn’t gripe and grumble and groan. Instead, He gladly and graciously gave Himself up for her, that He might purify and beautify His bride. Christ died for the sins of Adam and all the sons who follow in his steps that He might make a way for us to return to our Father and recover our royal calling. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope for failed and fallen men, and it is a living and abiding hope. My prayer for my boys (and for myself and the men who read this chapter) is that we would embrace this Gospel and answer Christ’s call to be His little brothers, following Him into the breach, laying down our lives for others, and doing so for the joy set before us. First in, last out, laughing loudest.”

The way Rigney (and all the authors, really) wrote about Biblical manhood made me rethink something I’d thought of many times before. Before reading this book, there were times that although I always believed in Biblical headship and submission, I felt it a little lame that men were commissioned with headship. To me, it always felt a little like we, as women, were getting the short end of the stick. This is so not the case. Headship is a high and noble calling, but it is not a luxurious one.  It is a call to be like Christ – to die to oneself daily…to take the initiative in reconciliation…to stand between the fire and one’s bride.

A wife’s call to submission may be difficult at times, but so is a husband’s call to headship. Neither headship nor submission is “better” than the other. The way our all-wise Creator designed it, the two roles compliment one another and point to Him while they’re at it. That’s what Biblical manhood and womanhood do in a marriage; they image Christ and the church.

In a recent letter from my fiancé he wrote, “Marriage will be amazing…we both get to display the relationship between Christ and His church in how we love and serve each other. Is there a higher earthly calling than this? And having secured an eternal salvation in Christ, and been gifted with the greatest joy this earth can offer (married love), how can we not rejoice?”

Indeed, how can we not rejoice? Christianity exalts manhood and womanhood high above where the secular world places them. Gender is a gift, and it points to God and His glory. In my opinion, Designed For Joy does an excellent job of presenting this truth to an up-and-coming generation.


You can order your own copy here!

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