In the past year or so I’ve read a number of really good books on marriage such as What Do You Expect by Dr. Paul David Tripp and Marriage Matters by Dr. Winston Smith. Following in this tradition is The Meaning Of Marriage Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Dr. Tim Keller. While the books by Drs. Smith and Tripp are excellent contributions on marriage, I believe that The Meaning of Marriage is even better than those books, not because those other books are bad, but because of how well-written and Gospel-drenched Dr. Keller’s book is. The Meaning of Marriage in my opinion is one of the finest treatments on marriage I’ve ever read, because it is thoroughly tied to and explicit on the Gospel.
Dr. Keller wrote this book, “for those spouses who have discovered how challenging day-to day marriage is and who are searching for practical resources to survive the sometimes overwhelming “fiery trials” of matrimony and to grow through them. Our society’s experience with marriage has given us the metaphor “the honeymoon is over.” This is a book for those who have experienced this as a literal truth and may have fallen back to earth with a thud.
Having experienced what Dr. Keller describes in the above quote, I can honestly say what Dr. Keller teaches in this book is my own experience in marriage. Being married is an incredible blessing, and being married, as I am to a godly wife is a gift from God. With that said, marriage is still hard and this book doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of marriage.
Being married, I’ve learned is hard work but it is worthwhile Gospel-work. At various points in my marriage to my beautiful wife Sarah we’ve experienced this difficulty especially in the first few years of our marriage. By the grace of God, as we’ve grown in our walk with God and closer to each other, our difficulties have become joys as we’ve learned from previous mistakes and repented of our sin. Marriage I’ve learned either humbles a man or causes a man to become proud and arrogant.
In my own life, marriage has humbled me by exposing my sin and pointing me towards the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not to say my marriage is perfect because it’s not, but by the grace of God my wife and I are in the best place we’ve ever been in the five years we’ve been married. I’ve been truly blessed by the love and prayers of my wife. I am deeply thankful that God sent her into my life as the Lord has used her in amazing ways to drill the Gospel deeper into my heart and life.
The Meaning Of Marriage is based on a well-known sermon series by Dr. Keller, and shows everyone-Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples and those about to be engaged- the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible. While many marriage books focus on how to improve your marriage, The Meaning of Marriage grounds itself firmly in the Word of God and exalts in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What makes The Meaning of Marriage such a valuable contribution isn’t just the fact that its grounded in the Gospel, but rather deals with beliefs that are unhelpful such as our modern culture would have us believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. Having read several books by Dr. Keller, in my opinion this book reveals the heart of a Pastor-scholar par excellence—one who understands what the Bible teaches but also what our culture teaches about marriage, friendship and relationships.
Dr. Keller writes neither as a novice, nor as an expert on marriage but as a man who has been married to his wife Kathy for thirty-six years. In this book Dr. Keller shows that God created marriage not to make us miserable but to bring us closer to Jesus and to bring more joy into our lives. Marriage is not a chore it is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious.
With a clear-eyed understanding of Scripture, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage will help couples whether they’ve been married a day or fifty years to know God and love more deeply in this life. I recommend you get a copy of The Meaning of Marriage and learn from Dr. Keller, as he not only sweeps away myths about marriage, but grounds his teaching in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus in order to help you to know and live out Gospel in your own marriage.
Author: Dr. Tim Keller
Publisher: Dutton (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Dutton. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”