I have to begin this review with a bit of honesty: I’ve read a lot of books on marriage, so when I first pulled out Biblical Marriage: Two Sinners and a Gracious God by John-William Noble, I thought to myself, “Another marriage book, huh? What is going to be different about this one?” I’m glad to give my answer in this review. This is an incredibly helpful book for Christian couples preparing for marriage or married couples seeking to grow in their marriage. In this book, Noble provides a biblical foundation for understanding how God designed marriage to function as well as giving wonderful practical guidance on how to do this in real life. It is biblical, clear, readable, and practical. It will definitely be on my list of recommended books when counseling married couples.
This little book (10 chapters, 112 pages) provides a ton of content. It begins with a dense chapter that lays the foundation for biblical marriage, primarily being a helpful exposition of Ephesians 5. He then moves to a chapter regarding expectations when entering into marriage, an absolutely vital subject that engaged couples must consider carefully. In the following chapters, he addresses subjects related to how couples relate to each other in marriage, such as blame and trust. This is followed by two chapters on sexual purity and lust before moving into the closing part of the book that addresses more practical matters, such as managing finances as a married couple, parenting, and how our cultures influence our marriage.
One strength of this book is the content that he addresses is so important for marriage is, unfortunately, so often missing from many of the books I’ve read on marriage (though maybe I’m just reading the wrong books!). For example, I’ve read many marriage books and also separate books on parenting and managing finances, but I can’t remember chapters in a book on marriage being about these subjects. This was very refreshing because it showed that these other important topics are vitally connected to the marriage relationship itself and cannot be divorced from it. I particularly thought his chapter on finances was very helpful and took away some practical application for my home.
I thought his handling of Scripture was accurate and clear without being burdensome or technical. I appreciated his ability to “get to the point” without going on and on endlessly. His illustrations were helpful and, at times, humorous! And as strange as it sounds, I found it refreshing to read a book on marriage by a young man that’s only been married a few years. Being 27 years old and having been married for four years myself, this book felt much more relatable because I am in a similar life circumstance. A few months ago, I was assigned to preach on marriage to our church family, and my inexperience made me feel quite intimidated. But I reminded myself then that our congregation’s greatest need was not my wisdom or experience (as helpful as those may be) but the clear teaching of the Word of God. That is precisely what Noble provides here.
I enjoyed this book, so these are admittedly a bit “nit-picky.” I think the organization could have been a bit clearer. There could have been “Part 1” dealing with doctrinal matters and then “Part 2” for the more practical matters. It could have helped the chapters to flow into each other a bit more smoothly, instead of each chapter feeling like a stand-alone work. Some of the chapters had content that was so similar that it could have been collapsed into one chapter (chapters 5 & 6 on sexual purity and lust, for example) to prevent a sense of redundancy. And this is a very strange criticism, but I came to the end of some chapters feeling like this book could have been longer. I almost never say that. I think most non-fiction Christian living books are too long. Nevertheless, the author very ambitiously tackles such a wide range of topics, many of which are entire books in themselves, that there just seems like there is so much more to be said. This book could certainly be revised and expanded in the future, and it would be welcome.
I enjoyed Biblical Marriage. I was fed from the Word of God on this vital subject, and I took away a great deal of practical application for my marriage. This will be on my list of recommended books for couples getting married in the future. It has a unique place among Christian marriage books for its brevity and willingness to tackle important and challenging issues that many other books neglect. I heartily recommend this book to you.
Many thanks to Wipf & Stock Publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. To get your copy of Biblical Marriage, click here.