Biblical Building Blocks
As a single person and a fan of HGTV, I thoroughly enjoyed Marry Wisely, Marry Well: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation. Dr. Ernie Baker—Professor of Biblical Counseling, certified conciliator with Peacemaker Ministries, pastor, husband, and father—has created a valuable tool for those desiring to be married. He uses the analogy of house-building to illustrate the process of building a future marriage. He states, “I want to help you build your future marriage house as wisely as possible” (p.134). Baker’s book does just that.
The subtitle, A Blueprint for Personal Preparation, suggests that there is a design plan to prepare yourself for marriage—before you even enter into a relationship. Dr. Baker’s book is a practical guidebook outlining the biblical building blocks from passages such as Proverbs 24:3-4,27 and Psalm 127:1, which teach that the Lord builds the house/marriage by getting one prepared and giving wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
In the introduction, Baker states that he has written Marry Wisely, Marry Well “to bring hope to those who are not married—in high school, college and beyond—a hope that you don’t have to experience a failed marriage—hope that the Lord, through Scripture, will give you wisdom to choose a spouse” (p. 7). Although Baker has not been single since he married the wife of his youth decades ago, he has earned credibility by teaching their six children how to prepare for marriage and doing premarital counseling as a professor at The Master’s University.
The Construction of the Book
Baker divides the book into three parts. In Part One he pours the concrete foundation in the first four chapters, emphasizing the importance of building on the biblical wisdom of Jesus Christ, learning how to handle one’s attractions wisely, and understanding God’s design for marriage. These are essential concepts to grasp in order to build a strong marriage relationship. Through his own life experiences, Baker has concluded that “good marriages don’t just happen, they are made to happen” (p. 37).
In Part Two Baker teaches the reader how to build the first floor properly in chapters five through nine. He covers much ground as he explores five key questions for the reader to contemplate:
- How should I use my single years?
- What relationship skills do I need to develop?
- How do I know when I am ready to be married?
- How will I know God’s will?
- What method should I choose to find a spouse? (p. 69).
These questions provide the reader with solid biblical principles to “strengthen the walls of your future marriage relationship” (p. 156). As a seasoned counselor, Baker accentuates the significance of having the right focus in your single years—making sure you are who the Lord wants you to be—before finding a spouse. He wants the reader to understand that good relationship skills and character traits are necessary to build strong relationships (p. 88).
Part Three of the book is the culmination of the marriage preparation project. Baker continues the analogy of house-building, describing the roof as the crown of the whole building project. He says, “According to Scriptural thinking, the roof that crowns your marriage house will be the glory of God” (p. 153). A marriage that glorifies God is the result of building wisely.
Marry Wisely, Marry Well is a highly practical resource that teaches you how to start building your future marriage even before you begin a relationship, culminating in a marriage that glorifies God. Baker’s expertise as a biblical counselor shines through as he includes real-world case studies, illustrative diagrams, self-reflective questions, and strategic questions for the reader, to ask about a prospective spouse. It also includes two appendices that comprise a study of Psalm 18 and a Marriage Preparation Project.
This book is a brilliant resource for pastors and counselors to help guide those desiring to be married and in need of godly understanding of how to go about it. It is also structured in a way to be used for self-study or group study. Readers would do well to spend time working through all the principles and answering all the questions to get the most out of this book.
Marry Wisely, Marry Well: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation provides exactly what its subtitle indicates—the design plan for marriage. It provides a magnificent biblical framework for marriage and I would even recommend it to those who are already married or are considering remarriage, who may have missed God’s design plan for marriage and desire to have a marriage that glorifies God.
Shannon is a biblical counselor at Valley Center Community Church in Southern California. She has a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA, and is ACBC certified. She is a retreat and conference speaker. She’s the author of Help! I’m A Slave To Food and contributing author to Women Counseling Women. She is currently pursuing future candidacy for the Ph.D. program in Biblical Counseling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.