In Mahaney’s eagerness to use Song of Solomon as a Biblical description and instruction of marital intimacy, he falls prey to a wrong approach to interpreting that book. He pits an allegorical interpretation, which sees Christ and his Church as the key players in that song, against a “literal” interpretation, which sees Solomon talking about the joys of marital love. I am aware that some who used an allegorical interpretative scheme in approaching this book did so in such a way as to negate any application of what the song teaches about marital love. However, Mahaney’s approach, which is widespread and pervasive today, errs to an opposite extreme: in applying what the song says directly about marital love it denies any typographical use of the book. I see a third option, one which affirms that the book clearly praises the joys of marital love yet which also recognizes that Solomon’s Song is written within the framework of a redemptive history that the Bible records for us. And just as other Biblical stories foreshadow and describe the redemption Christ accomplished for His people, thereby enhancing our understanding of and appreciation of the Gospel (for instance Gal. 4:24ff.; 1 Cor. 10:4ff.; Rom. 15:4; Luke 24:27, 44-45ff.; and the obvious typography of the Tabernacle and offerings–whole book of Hebrews; see this category of posts for more information), so too the Song of Solomon may rightly be seen to describe the anti-type of which marriage is only a picture. Indeed all marriages are a picture of the abiding covenant love and joyful relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:31-32); and hence it would be proper to see Christ and His Church as ultimately referred to in this beautiful love poem.
Let me not fail to stress here that this really is an absolutely wonderful book on marriage. You need to get it and read it, especially if you are a husband—and even more so if you have already been married for some time. Below I will mention some specific points in the book which I appreciated, beyond what I have already written. But before I do, I should refer you to a more competent review that what you will see here. Tim Challies has a good review at DiscerningReader.Com, however he would not agree with my caution concerning Mahaney’s interpretational approach to Song of Solomon. Now on to my excerpts and comments on the last four chapters of the book.
More than “The Act”
Most of the book teaches us men how to romance our wives and how to communicate effectively our love to them. Yet it purports to be a book about sex. Mahaney stresses that this is no contradiction: sex is more than just “the act”.
You see, what we express…and how we behave toward our wives in the days and hours before we make love is actually far more important than what we do when the clothes come off…Everything I say to my wife teaches her something about how I value her. Every touch, every kiss on the cheek, every note and gift, every brief phone call—as well as every act of selfish neglect—expresses something about my heart….So, to talk about romantic communication and creativity is not to delay talking about sex. It is to talk about what makes for the best sex.
Communication and sex are inseparable. It’s not as though sex is one thing and communication is something else. Life doesn’t divide into neat little compartments like that, especially when it comes to the oneness of marriage. It’s all one thing. 
Carefully Composed Words
I found Mahaney’s chapter on “The Language of Romance” to be very interesting. I was challenged to be more intentional in how I communicate with my wife, and to stop neglecting poetry as a means of arousing her love. I used poetry frequently before we were married, I should therefore use it even more, now that we are. Listen to Mahaney on this point:
…[Song of Solomon shows us] a category of communication set apart from the stuff of daily life….It is highly intentional, creative, provocative, erotic language. It’s purpose is to arouse romantic passion—to inflame slowly and intentionally, all the while honoring and delighting one’s spouse….Long before they begin to enjoy one another’s bodies, they excite one another’s minds with tender, creative speech. They model for us what it means to feel sexual passion and to articulate that passion. The language is highly poetic, romantically expressed, and exceptionally creative and imaginative. It is also unmistakably sexual.
The best sex begins with romance, and the best romance begins with the kind of speech we read in the Song of Solomon. It begins with carefully composed words….
Far from scorning carefully composed words, I should accept the lesson of Solomon’s Song and learn how to use them. Poetic language is a gift from God that can help me promote godly romance with my wife!
…How many times in the past week or month have you spoken to your wife in ways that she found to be romantically and perhaps erotically arousing? 
Does Natural mean Not Spiritual?
Should lovemaking within marriage be considered a fundamentally spiritual activity? I believe the answer is an unqualified yes.
Is there a case to be made from Scripture that lovemaking is any less important to a marriage than praying together, studying the Bible together, or even attending church together? I don’t think so….
…let’s not see sex as merely a permissible part of marriage or something to be tolerated. Sex in marriage is mandatory and something to be celebrated! (See 1 Corinthians 7:35; Ephesians 5:31) Sex was created for marriage, and marriage was created in part for the enjoyment of sex. 
A Realistic Approach
…I am confident that a consistently God-glorifying approach to marital intimacy can improve any couple’s sex life significantly. But let’s keep in mind that we’re human, with limitations….On the subject of sexual expectations, Douglas Wilson has pointed out that while some meals are steaks, and some are macaroni and cheese, both are enjoyable. That’s wise counsel. So let your expectations be realistic, and enjoy. 
The Love Behind the Sex
Mahaney pointed out something about Song of Solomon that I had never considered. He stressed that Song of Solomon, while highly erotic, is a book about marital love. And he draws some important conclusions from that seemingly inconsequential point.
It’s remarkable how Solomon’s language, while obvious in its intent, is never biologically specific in a way that could be considered vulgar or clinical….that fact is itself full of meaning. Although sexual intercourse is certainly an ultimate expression of a married couple’s erotic encounter, it is not the outstanding central feature of this book. What is dominant in the Song is not any particular physical act. The book is not about sexual intercourse. Rather, it is about the remarkable nature of the couple’s overall relationship—in all its romance, yearning, desire, sensuality, passion, and eroticism….they do not desire to be together simply so they can experience sexual gratification. They want to be together because they are in love, albeit a powerful one…. 
A Word to Wives
I wanted lastly to mention that there is a great “word to wives” section written by C.J’s wife Carolyn. It is for the most part a reproduction of chapter 7 in her book Feminine Appeal. I read that section, too, and was impressed by Carolyn Mahaney’s wisdom. It like the entire book, is not so much a manual on how to make love, as it is an encouragement to have a deep and lasting joyful relationship with your mate which includes a proper valueing and enjoyment of sex.
 pg. 58-59.
 pg. 60, 69-70.
 pg. 74-75, underlined emphasis italic in original.
 pg. 87, underlined emphasis italic in original. The citation of Douglas Wilson is from Reforming Marriage (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1995) pg. 83.
 pg. 88-89, underlined emphasis italic in original.