The Meaning of Marriage

The Meaning of Marriage

I have had this book on the shelf for some time and recently got around to completing it. I was in NY when Tim and Kathy Keller were doing the promo work for the book. A certain Mark Driscoll was gaining headlines at the same time for his book on marriage but for altogether different reasons!

The first thing I would say about any book on marriage is that I feel a sense of conviction and belief about what is being written when I know the couple are mature and have been in “the fight” for many decades. It’s why I body swerved Driscoll’s book in favour of this. Let’s see what the old man (and his wife) has to say to us on this topic.

Firstly, and I say this with great respect, there is nothing new or groundbreaking in this book that you won’t find in many other Christian books on the market. He hasn’t found a key secret or some deep, new truth that is gong to blow you away. There are only eight chapters, although it does feel longer and somewhat repetitive in places. That being said, there is great truth it be found within its pages and needy reminders for our age which is currently lobbying to redefine the institution of marriage completely. It’s good to be reminded, for instance, that God ‘established marriage for the welfare and happiness of humankind.’ Tim is spot on when he reminds his readers that, ‘if God invented marriage, then those who enter it should make every effort to understand and submit to his purpose for it.’

There are some excellent insights, particularly concerning the nature of love, lust and attraction. Tom reminds us that, ‘when the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone.’ His whole chapter on the essence of marriage is a timely riposte to many in our culture who, guided by the media, have an overly subjective view of love. In the same vein, we read:

‘Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now – than can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstance.’

It’s a book that has been written (I suspect) with a largely skeptical audience in mind. It is a bit wordy for me to recommend to some of my people, although I have encouraged my wife to read it and I will recommend it wholeheartedly in a selective manner. The insights for single people, for instance, stand out as particularly good and the challenge to ‘rethink singleness’ is timely in an age when many are marrying much later in life than their forebears.

A good, solid read if you have not read much on the topic. Worth a punt.