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The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

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Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Songs of Jesus, Timothy Keller with his wife of 36 years, delivers The Meaning of Marriage, an extraordinarily insightful look at the keys to happiness in marriage that will inspire Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged. Modern culture would make yo Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Songs of Jesus, Timothy Keller with his wife of 36 years, delivers The Meaning of Marriage, an extraordinarily insightful look at the keys to happiness in marriage that will inspire Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged. Modern culture would make you 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; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong. Using the Bible as his guide, coupled with insightful commentary from his wife of thirty-six years, Kathy, Timothy Keller shows that God created marriage to bring us closer to him and to bring us more joy in our lives. It is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious. With a clear-eyed understanding of the Bible, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.


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Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Songs of Jesus, Timothy Keller with his wife of 36 years, delivers The Meaning of Marriage, an extraordinarily insightful look at the keys to happiness in marriage that will inspire Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged. Modern culture would make yo Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Songs of Jesus, Timothy Keller with his wife of 36 years, delivers The Meaning of Marriage, an extraordinarily insightful look at the keys to happiness in marriage that will inspire Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged. Modern culture would make you 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; that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. All those modern-day assumptions are, in a word, wrong. Using the Bible as his guide, coupled with insightful commentary from his wife of thirty-six years, Kathy, Timothy Keller shows that God created marriage to bring us closer to him and to bring us more joy in our lives. It is a glorious relationship that is also the most misunderstood and mysterious. With a clear-eyed understanding of the Bible, and meaningful instruction on how to have a successful marriage, The Meaning of Marriage is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.

30 review for The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

  1. 4 out of 5

    JR. Forasteros

    Shortly after I posted my review of Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage, which failed as a book on marriage, many sympathetic to Driscoll told me to get the forthcoming The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Tim is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the island of Manhattan. He’s also a New Calvinist and a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, which apparently believes you have to be Complementarian to be a real Christian. To say I was nervous to dive in would be an understatement, but dive in Shortly after I posted my review of Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage, which failed as a book on marriage, many sympathetic to Driscoll told me to get the forthcoming The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Tim is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the island of Manhattan. He’s also a New Calvinist and a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, which apparently believes you have to be Complementarian to be a real Christian. To say I was nervous to dive in would be an understatement, but dive in I did. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise to find the marriage book I’ve been waiting for! The Meaning of Marriage succeeds in just about every way Real Marriage failed, and then some. Summarizing a nine-sermon series on Ephesians 5 that he’s been using for years, Tim puts forth as his thesis that his goal is to, Put Paul’s discussion into today’s cultural context and lay out two of the most basic teachings by th e Bible on marriage—that it has been instituted by God and that marriage was designed to be a reflection of the saving love of God for us in Jesus Christ. The Romance Marriage script is under fire. We need something better. He begins with a great critique of Marriage as a Romantic institution, reminiscent of Pamela Haag’s Marriage Confidential. Writing from a Christian perspective, Tim goes further to ground marriage specifically in God’s saving work. Tim’s first several chapters lay out essential, counter-cultural principles for Marriage. Contrary to “soul-mate theology,” Marriage involves two whole persons whose individual identities are grounded in Jesus. This lets each person participate in the love of Marriage as an Other-oriented institution that imitates God. As Tim says, There is an “other-orientation” within the very being of God. He doesn’t quite get to the heart of Orthodox Trinitarian theology here, though it’s coming. Tim moves on to explore how choosing the Other-orientation in Marriage is part of God’s sanctifying work in us. Marriage becomes a vehicle God uses to save us, to make us holy. And this is key. If two spouses each say, “I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,” you have the prospect of a truly great marriage. Surely if these two can make it work, there’s hope for all of us! The middle of the book focus on the Other person we marry. Tim notes that no matter how much we love someone, when we marry them we don’t know them fully. We’re actually marrying an image of them, and the longer we’re married, the better we get to know the real person. As Tim puts it, we always marry the wrong person. For Tim, the goal of Marriage is friendship. He makes much of Marriage’s ability to sanctify us here, and challenges singles to “screen first for friendship”. Here’s where a larger picture of the Gospel would’ve benefited Tim’s picture of Marriage. While he paints a great picture of spouses as the person who complements our passions and calling, a Gospel that restores not only us but the larger world would’ve been more compelling. The Kellers’ marriage is a great model. Overall, this book works on just about every level. Tim mixes theology with sound, practical advice on how to implement his teachings. His own marriage provides ample illustrations that are both hilarious and helpful. Every page evinces a book that’s grown out of many years of teaching the Scriptures to both married and single persons. Oh, and speaking of Singles, Tim dedicates an entire chapter to the beauty, power and necessity of the Single person in the Church. Tim’s Singleness chapter is a pitch-perfect illustration of why no discussion of Christian marriage is complete without evaluating the importance of singleness. Finally, I can’t evaluate this book without noting how Tim addresses Gender. First, though he’s staunchly Complementarian, Keller often slips into Egalitarian language. For example, commenting on Paul’s instructions to husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church,” (Ephesians 5:25), Keller applies this advice to both genders, telling us we should, Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow. Tim’s picture of gender isn’t nearly as clear-cut as other Complementarians, at least partially because he recognizes that gender roles are a function of culture, and therefore relative. Even though the Kellers’ framework sounds like this… Tim’s wife, Kathy, writes the chapter on Gender because, in her words, she has “the most at stake in this discussion”. That sentence alone blew me away (and again is radically more self-aware than anything in Real Marriage). But as Kathy outlines complementarian gender roles, grounded in God’s Triune nature, she too sounded more and more egalitarian: In the dance of the Trinity, the greatest is the one who is most self-effacing, most sacrificial, most devoted to the good of the Other. Jesus redefined—or, more truly, defined properly—headship and authority… as servant-authority. Any exercise of power can only be done in service to the Other, not to please oneself… Both women and men get to “play the Jesus role” in marriage—Jesus in his sacrificial authority, Jesus in his sacrificial submission. …it actually LOOKS more like this. If men are called to sacrificial authority and women are called to sacrificial submission, we’re essentially playing semantics games. Both persons lived, embodied sacrificial living are going to look indistinguishable from each other. Certainly, the Kellers’ Complementarianism is immeasurably more biblical, more Jesus-like, more Trinitarian than what the Driscolls advocate in Real Marriage. Their pictures are different enough that one of them should stop calling themselves Complementarian. Call it whatever you want. The Keller’s picture of Marriage is one we should strive for. Bottom Line: A book on Christian Marriage that works on every level. I can recommend this book with no reservations. And that’s a refreshing change.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric Molicki

    Eric to Alice: Guess what? Alice: What? Eric: We've been doing this marriage thing WRONG for the past 20 years!! Alice: Keller's book was that good, huh? Eric: Yup. Has instantly become the first priority of my premarital and marital required reading lists. I have already planned to re-read it with Alice in the coming 3 months. I'm sooo excited to love my bride in a way that is richer and more glorious than anything we have tasted thus far. I actually leave the book so much more encouraged about what Eric to Alice: Guess what? Alice: What? Eric: We've been doing this marriage thing WRONG for the past 20 years!! Alice: Keller's book was that good, huh? Eric: Yup. Has instantly become the first priority of my premarital and marital required reading lists. I have already planned to re-read it with Alice in the coming 3 months. I'm sooo excited to love my bride in a way that is richer and more glorious than anything we have tasted thus far. I actually leave the book so much more encouraged about what God has done in my marriage over the past 2 decades and just plain excited to see what the next 20 can bring as we work through more deeply God's glorious plan and power for our marriage in the gospel!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barnabas Piper

    Simply the best book on marriage I have read. It is the most complete, the most balanced, the most comprehensive - all without dragging or bogging the reader down. It is not just a book about how to have a good marriage but a foundation for what marriage is, an ideal resource for both married and yet-to-be-married alike.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Promising as this book seems to be, "The Meaning of Marriage" turns out to be an overly general, repetitive, and flawed treatment of marriage. At first, I loved the book. Keller starts with an insightful analysis of the motives behind marriage (or the lack thereof) in contemporary America. Unlike previous generations, this generation sees marriage, if achieved, as 'self-realization': a relationship in which both partners are ideal, in need of no character development, and thus able to provide ce Promising as this book seems to be, "The Meaning of Marriage" turns out to be an overly general, repetitive, and flawed treatment of marriage. At first, I loved the book. Keller starts with an insightful analysis of the motives behind marriage (or the lack thereof) in contemporary America. Unlike previous generations, this generation sees marriage, if achieved, as 'self-realization': a relationship in which both partners are ideal, in need of no character development, and thus able to provide certain commodities such as sex, wealth, social status and the security of having a companion. Interestingly, I noticed how Keller's thesis played out in real life. A movie I like depicts two men (Tall Dark Handsome and Computer Nerd) pursuing the same girl; she chooses Computer Nerd. The webs are filled with people upset about this choice. I couldn't help but think that these fussbudgets are illustrating Keller's thesis for him: Tall Dark Handsome is the very much an ideal: in need of little character development, equally aggressive and gentle. Computer Nerd is arrogant and slightly overweight, though ultimately likeable. He, not Tall Dark Handsome, was the real man with real problems that women have to deal with in real life. After this chapter, however, Keller's book begins to fall apart. Keller's most obvious problem is his lack of detail. John Piper has been noted as a writer who tends to repeat himself (Indeed, the first three chapters of his book on missions are so exactly alike that I had to put the book down). Keller, who is also a pastor, experiences the same problem: He tends to repeat his main ideas without adding new information or examples to help readers retain the information in their minds. Chapters 2-4 described the biblical perspective on marriage (a solemn vow of mutual help and support, made possible only by relying on Christ), and by the fourth chapter all his material was sounding the same, and I was skimming very quickly.) Nor does he provide sufficient examples: Later chapters on singleness and on sex interested me greatly, but although his ideas were fascinating, he provided few examples to flesh out what his theories look like in real life. As a result, I haven't tried applying anything and his ideas are even now (less than a week after I finished the book) fuzzy. Good teachers will tell you that stories and examples are crucial to helping students retain information, and Keller does not provide those stories and examples. His first problem is that he says nothing that should be new to his readers. Following his analysis of marriage, he reminds married couples to put each other's needs and desires first. He reminds readers that even the efforts of one person can help heal the relationship. He reminds people to read their Bibles. In other words, he does a lot of reminding. I realize there is value in reminders, but reading a book demands a great deal of time and effort (I took two weeks to read this book) and so the book should offer its readers something new: at the very least, new suggestions to put all the old ideas into practice. Keller does not do this, and as a result, his book is familiar and slightly boring to anyone who has studied Philippians 2. Perhaps the lowest point in terms of repeating aphorisms is the chapter on gender roles, written by Keller's wife Kathy. I was especially disappointed by this: Gender roles and the Christian interpretation of these fascinates me, and Kathy deals with these in a familiar and even stereotypical fashion. At the beginning of the chapter, she tells her readers that embracing gender roles "did not involve me developing a taste for frilly clothing, nor Tim taking up car maintenance." I was astonished by how outdated these stereotypes were. Very few people still picture all women as having 'a taste for frilly clothing,' and so the reader is left wondering what Kathy's point is. Is she trying to debunk stereotypes that are 60 years old? In fact, Kathy persists in repeating old news throughout the chapter: Her next point is that men and women are inherently different. Even the most ardent feminists (with a few exceptions) celebrate this difference. Kathy's point surprises no one, which begs the question, "Why is she telling us this?" No real answer is given, because the few times that she does address modern problems, she fails to provide real analysis. She repeats common arguments for gender roles as they now exist (such as the argument that male headship does not make women inherently inferior) and refuses to attempt an answer at why the gender roles exist (she actually says that we cannot know). Finally, there are a few exceptional flaws in Keller's book which I want to point out. What troubled me the most was his treatment of what he calls "woundedness": the feeling of hurt left over by (according to Keller) those who have been hurt in dating relationships, or even emotionally and verbally abused by parents. (Thankfully, he leaves physical and sexual abuse out of the picture.) Essentially, Keller tells wounded people to 'get over it' in order to make their marriage work: He suggests "that woundedness makes us self-absorbed" and that the wounded partner should "determine to see [her] own selfishness and to treat it more seriously than [she] does [her] spouse's". While I believe that Keller makes some good points about not letting past hurts dominate the present and about taking action to heal these wounds, I think he far underestimates the pain caused by hurtful people, and the ease with which those who have been hurt can put their hurt behind them. Especially in cases of emotional and verbal abuse, the wounded person is not simply "making excuses for selfishness"; that person has been hurt as truly as if she were physically wounded and will need just as much care. Keller's treatment of "woundedness" is insensitive and predicts, in fact, future pain and frustration for people who cannot simply put very real wounds behind. Finally, Keller's treatment of singleness is contradictory and insufficient. At first, Keller points out that the church tries to explain singleness away by saying that those who are single can serve God more fully; he argues that, in fact, this reserves wholehearted service to God as something for a special class of people. By the end of the chapter, however, he reassures singles that their gift is one of "freetom . . . to concentrate on ministry in ways that a married [person] could not." His big piece of advice for singles is to rely heavily on the relationships in their church: While single people lack support and the impetus for personal growth provided by a married person, they can experience this in part, Keller believes, by befriending those of the opposite sex at church. Problem: Very few churches exist like this. As a single woman, I have been to exactly zero churches with a number of single, Christlike and friendly men to build me up. Lest anyone think my experience is abnormal, I live in the Bible belt! I am VERY familiar with the American church. Keller, despite giving some interesting and useful advice on how and when to pursue marriage, ultimately tries and fails to explain singleness. I think perhaps this is because Keller has not lived as a single (he was a college student when he married): As there is only so much help a single person can give her married friends, so there is only so much help that a married person can offer a single one. Without the practical, lived experience of singlehood, the married person will put forward ideas that do not, in fact, work in reality. Here's why Keller's book is so disappointing: I read somewhere once that all the books published on sex do not indicate that America has a handle on sex; the plethora of books in fact indicates that America has a problem with sex. I see the same thing in books on marriage and singleness for the church: We have a problem, and nobody knows (beyond a few common principles) how to solve it. Timothy Keller does not really understand the solution himself. He understands the problem, but his book does not offer any kind of new solution, or even a fresh or healthy take on the old solution.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Bonadies

    Let me begin with a confession: I'm not a big fan of books on marriage. Not that I don't think that marriage is important. On the contrary, it is ordained of God. My contention is that most modern books on marriage make little contribution to the subject (other than saying things in a slightly different manner than the others)and almost all of them ascribe to the 'mutual needs fallacy' ("If you respect him, he will love you. And the reason she doesn't respect you is because you are not loving he Let me begin with a confession: I'm not a big fan of books on marriage. Not that I don't think that marriage is important. On the contrary, it is ordained of God. My contention is that most modern books on marriage make little contribution to the subject (other than saying things in a slightly different manner than the others)and almost all of them ascribe to the 'mutual needs fallacy' ("If you respect him, he will love you. And the reason she doesn't respect you is because you are not loving her." Friends, where is the Gospel in this!). I say all of this to say, this book is fantastic! The content on commitment is the best that I have read. I not only recommend this book to couples, but singles who want a deeper understanding of what a healthy marriage entails. CB

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have teetered back and forth between rating this with 3 or 4 stars, but ultimately gave it 3 stars because of the latter half of the book was found repetitive and also lacking in regards to gender roles within marriage, sex, and singleness. I contemplated 4 stars because I do appreciate the overall picture that this book helps to draw in creating a realistic picture of marriage and appropriate expectations for what it should bring about in your life. In the first few chapters, Keller proposes I have teetered back and forth between rating this with 3 or 4 stars, but ultimately gave it 3 stars because of the latter half of the book was found repetitive and also lacking in regards to gender roles within marriage, sex, and singleness. I contemplated 4 stars because I do appreciate the overall picture that this book helps to draw in creating a realistic picture of marriage and appropriate expectations for what it should bring about in your life. In the first few chapters, Keller proposes some fair points about allowing your spouse to be the primary refiner in your life in shaping you to be more like Christ, which is agreeable since all relationships should take on this role and most specifically the marriage relationship. At times I did feel that this was overemphasized to imply incompleteness and thus a necessary secondary form of salvation that only a spouse can provide (rather than the Spirit's direct work in us). The first few chapters address western cultural views brought into a marriage, which are important to consider against the biblical intent of marriage as being a constant matter of submitting to one another instead of choosing a spouse for selfish fulfillment. But as this book nears the end, it seems quite repetitive and Kathy Keller's chapter on gender roles seemed to take on many views at once without reconciling them to one another while throwing in various worn out cliches. Also, she made what intuitively seems to be problematic analogy of gender roles in marriage the based on the model the Trinity; the wife resembles Christ in submission to the husband who resembles God the Father. The Trinity is one of the most complex mysteries of faith, so it is an difficult analogy to draw and lacks little if any Biblical context whatsoever. This deserves some further discussion, but I still have to do some further thinking before attempting to articulate it here. Ultimately, I'd recommend giving this book a fair shot; it has some valid points that other typical marriage books fail to discuss or even stereotype, but I think it does become rather unsteady while still trying to remain definitive without well thought out reasoning or counseling toward the end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    [Incomplete] In the introduction, Tim describes he and his wife Kathy, in the early days of their courtship, gradually realizing "that the other was a rare fit for [their] hearts." They shared, he says, the "secret thread" that C.S. Lewis says makes people good friends: "You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words:...Are not all lifelong friend [Incomplete] In the introduction, Tim describes he and his wife Kathy, in the early days of their courtship, gradually realizing "that the other was a rare fit for [their] hearts." They shared, he says, the "secret thread" that C.S. Lewis says makes people good friends: "You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words:...Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling...of that something which you were born desiring"? (The Problem of Pain). (I would tweak this slightly: as believers, this "something" is not a something we were born desiring, but rather a something that we were reborn to desire: Christ.) And this finding another person with the same "secret thread" is a very romantic picture and something most of us long for. But quickly, Keller reminds us, it becomes apparent that marriage--even a marriage rooted in the Lord--is much more difficult than expected. Hence this book, the purpose of which is "to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible." THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE Today we have magazines featuring "100 Ways to Please Your Man/Woman," "How to Make Her/Him Feel Loved/Respected," etc. And of course fulfilling one's spouse (and being fulfilled by one's spouse) at the sexual, emotional, and relational levels is a part of marriage (1 Cor. 7:33-34), but it's not the primary purpose of marriage, as our society would have us believe. Keller reminds us that historically, marriage has not been seen as a contract primarily for the benefit of two individuals, but for the benefit of the community at large (hence arranged marriages) and, among Christians, as even more than that: a contract made before God by which two people commit to pleasing him first and foremost through committing sacrificially to one another. Unfortunately, though, covenant has not been popular in the West; the marketplace is dominant; consumerism, not covenant, is king. (Thankfully, child-rearing, no matter how unrewarding, is still seen in strong covenantal terms; marriage is not [hence the divorce rate].) And in the midst of consumerism, people wait years for their "soul mate," someone with whom they are perfectly compatible, that they know is out there, for whom they will have to make no changes and will wait indefinitely. (Among Christians, I think, we call this type of worldly thinking "being picky"). "Never before in history has there been a society filled with people so idealistic in what they are seeking in a spouse." And at the end of the day, you have no idea who you are marrying. A quote from Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas sums it up nicely: "Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become 'whole' and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is...learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married." WE HAVE SUBSTITUTED ROMANCE FOR REDEMPTION In the past, people looked to the afterlife, to God himself, for hope, morality, and self-identity. Modern man, however, unsure if things like the afterlife and God even exist, has found a replacement: romance. Ernest Becker writes, "The love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one's life. All spiritual and moral needs now become focused in one individual...In one word, the love object is God...Man reached for a 'thou' when the worldview of the great religious community overseen by God died...After all, what is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to the position of God? We want redemption--nothing less." This thinking, of course, has crept (more like swept) into the church, and we will be horribly disappointed when we find that our lover is not the god we sought he or she to be. SCATTERED TAKEAWAYS Determine to see your own selfishness as a fundamental problem and to treat it more seriously than you do your spouse's. "I'm going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage." "How would we live if we instinctively, almost unconsciously, knew Jesus's mind and heart regarding things that confronted us? When you received criticism, you would never be crushed, because Jesus's love and acceptance of you is so deeply 'in there.' When you gave criticism, you would be gentle and patient, because your whole inner world would be saturated by a sense of Jesus's loving patience and gentleness with you." Sex should be done to give joy rather than to impress. "Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love." "Two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced."

  8. 5 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    I wanted to get a Biblical view of what Marriage means... what is expected and why marriage is important in the eyes of God.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Cutshall

    Finally finished this work after stopping it for nearly two years -- so glad I picked it back up when I did. So honest, so convicting, so encouraging.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jackson

    Splendid! Excited to see Clara's review! Splendid! Excited to see Clara's review!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    A "single person's review"... Read it!! It's not just because of the marriage insights. [But those are great!] Great reminders and challenges for me, even though not all of it was new. But still, is it relevant to single people *now*? [or wait until you're married] YES, it is! The Meaning of Marriage is gospel-centric [which got my interest and inclined me toward reading it in the first place]. Keller frames marriage in the context of living out the gospel, that the gospel is truly what allows u A "single person's review"... Read it!! It's not just because of the marriage insights. [But those are great!] Great reminders and challenges for me, even though not all of it was new. But still, is it relevant to single people *now*? [or wait until you're married] YES, it is! The Meaning of Marriage is gospel-centric [which got my interest and inclined me toward reading it in the first place]. Keller frames marriage in the context of living out the gospel, that the gospel is truly what allows us to 'do' marriage. That while a marriage can survive if the marriage partners are not Believers, the best marriage will have the gospel and the work of sanctification as the focal point. All true and spot-on. [For anyone married out there, even if you 'know this', I encourage you to read this... TOGETHER. Because Keller just unpacks it.] Another very important focus of this book is the in-depth look Keller takes on marriage in today's culture and time period. "The State of the (Marriage) Union", so to speak. Reading this section is either going to be extremely convicting or it's going to break your heart and increase your burden to pray for society's views on marriage to be healed. Or more likely, it'll do both of those things, as it did for me. I just found my heart breaking over the statistics and views on marriage in our culture, my generation in particular and have felt an increased burden to pray for healing for my generation, not just myself. It's not about finding the "perfect person" or our 'soul mate' as far as compatibility goes. And once you're married, it's not about that honeymoon image of your spouse that has to remain or else you consider chucking the whole thing. [For the record, Keller does not say physical attraction and compatibility aren't concerns, but that there's deeper attraction and purpose to marriage.] Marriage is about committing to a person (yes, with a certificate) who you are choosing to join in the process in their becoming like Christ, and what's more, you're excited and humbled by that opportunity. But then, the most personally convicting for the "now", and back to the Gospel-centric message. As I've read, I've been overwhelmed by God's grace to me. I accepted Christ as my Savior at 5 on my parents' bed in the tiny apartment we lived in in between houses. With 23 years in between, it is SO easy to forget the joy of your initial salvation, especially with the distractions and nitty gritty of life. This book is reminding me anew and blowing me away by God's grace and love toward me. And it's challenging me on just how well I love others. It's reminding me of my call and purpose to love others. To be *for* them, as Christ is *for* me. And that includes when it's not convenient or easy. So singles, marrieds, read this book! This is a vision and an unpacking of marriage that is biblical and people could rally around.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    Definitely some mixed feelings about the book. I sort of mostly liked it? Maybe mostly. I think I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The first chapter was oddly repetitive and something of a chore to get through. Chapters 2 through 5 were interesting, insightful and useful, and I would absolutely recommend them to anyone with marriage on the mind in any context. Chapter 6...was a bit of a mess. Poorly constructed, often confusing (in the "that sentence didn't actually mean anything" sor Definitely some mixed feelings about the book. I sort of mostly liked it? Maybe mostly. I think I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The first chapter was oddly repetitive and something of a chore to get through. Chapters 2 through 5 were interesting, insightful and useful, and I would absolutely recommend them to anyone with marriage on the mind in any context. Chapter 6...was a bit of a mess. Poorly constructed, often confusing (in the "that sentence didn't actually mean anything" sort of way), full of unfounded assumptions, and seemed to present one highly debatable interpretation of Biblical teaching as simple truth with no room for discussion, which is unfortunate. The last two chapters were ok, but I do worry I may have still been reeling from chapter 6 and not giving them due attention. (Maybe read 6 last and see what you think?) Also it felt like half of the text of the book was in footnotes, which for me just got annoying after a while. Anyway, I suppose I'd recommend the book in general, just not quite whole-heartedly.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Many good thoughts, but poorly written. Typical under-emphasis on romance and some belittling of the idea of falling or being 'in love' in favor of the 'select a spouse carefully because marriage is hard, hard work' theme. Not that I disagree, but can't somebody write a book that emphasizes the goodness and sanctity of both? Many good thoughts, but poorly written. Typical under-emphasis on romance and some belittling of the idea of falling or being 'in love' in favor of the 'select a spouse carefully because marriage is hard, hard work' theme. Not that I disagree, but can't somebody write a book that emphasizes the goodness and sanctity of both?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Igna Darius

    Best book that i've read on marriage Alright, i haven't read much on this. However, it uncovers a true biblical, healthy perspective on marriage with all its core challenges. It can be read by anyone interested in marriage, even those that are not actively in a relationship. You can find useful things to use in the relationship - marriage process. The book is well writen with the work of both Tim and Kathy Keller. I can clearly say that it helped me grasp many things on which i will come back to Best book that i've read on marriage Alright, i haven't read much on this. However, it uncovers a true biblical, healthy perspective on marriage with all its core challenges. It can be read by anyone interested in marriage, even those that are not actively in a relationship. You can find useful things to use in the relationship - marriage process. The book is well writen with the work of both Tim and Kathy Keller. I can clearly say that it helped me grasp many things on which i will come back to this book during my marriage.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris McGrath

    This goes on my must-read list for all unmarried Christians, and on my should-read list for all married Christians. No, seriously: if you're a single/divorced Christian, put this on the top of your list immediately. In his book Altar Ego , Craig Groeschel said, "If you don't know the purpose of something, all you can do is misuse it." Sadly, I see huge numbers of people, many of them Christians, misusing marriage because they don't know its purpose. They not only misuse it once they get marrie This goes on my must-read list for all unmarried Christians, and on my should-read list for all married Christians. No, seriously: if you're a single/divorced Christian, put this on the top of your list immediately. In his book Altar Ego , Craig Groeschel said, "If you don't know the purpose of something, all you can do is misuse it." Sadly, I see huge numbers of people, many of them Christians, misusing marriage because they don't know its purpose. They not only misuse it once they get married, but they misuse it during their single years by putting their hope in it for eventual self-fulfillment and missing most or all of the incredible and varied blessings marriage provides, most notably character growth. The Kellers do a phenomenal job of explaining God's complete design for marriage* as best we can understand it through the Scriptures and the experience of pastoring a church for many years. And although I am married and look forward to applying some of these principals to my own marriage, I believe the book is most valuable to the unmarried; those hoping to marry one day should know what they are getting themselves into, and those planning never to marry should know what they are missing. I came to this book primarily hoping it would help me teach others a Godly vision for marriage in order to understand the Christian doctrine of premarital abstinence. The book does make a good case for that, but offers so much more as well. The one unfortunate thing is that Keller's writing style is a bit "scholarly" and so may be difficult for Christian teens, who are in need of this book as much as anyone. I expect this will be a book I re-read and reference many times in the future. *This is not merely the accurate but very shallow definition many Christians publicly support: "Marriage is between one man and one woman." That is one small facet of marriage, but offers nothing about its purpose, only its regulation. The book addresses the way the two genders complement and challenge each other, but does not even put a toe into the gay marriage debate; that might likely be a worthy topic for an entirely separate book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I wish I had read this book years ago. I really and truly do. I think I'm going to lend my copy to some of my friends as well. It's that good. The Kellers tag team through the book, discussing love, sex, and marriage. They offer the cultural narrative, the "Christian" one, and offer an insight to what the Bible really has to say. Instead of being heavy, the book is incredibly life-giving. They talk about sex. They talk about gender roles. They talk about balancing expectations. They talk about divor I wish I had read this book years ago. I really and truly do. I think I'm going to lend my copy to some of my friends as well. It's that good. The Kellers tag team through the book, discussing love, sex, and marriage. They offer the cultural narrative, the "Christian" one, and offer an insight to what the Bible really has to say. Instead of being heavy, the book is incredibly life-giving. They talk about sex. They talk about gender roles. They talk about balancing expectations. They talk about divorce. They talk about what choosing to love like Jesus looks like. They talk about choosing a spouse. They talk about the daily choices to love someone. And it's great stuff. There are tons of books out there for singles. Many of them are good but not many of them are truly life giving. At times, the Christian narrative on singledom is cliched and stale. Well meaning people repeat the same mantras, never quite believing their words. The Kellers get beyond the cliches and into bold territory. They talk about marrying the wrong person, dealing with your spouse changing, and how your spouse is quite often the key player in your sanctification. I could go on. But just read it yourself.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    I hated this book so much I couldn't bear to finish it. If you're looking for a traditional, anti-feminist view of marriage that is Jesusy enough to make you barf, this is it. Our marriage counselor recommended this book for us to read as a newly married couple, but we couldn't stomach it and it definitely isn't "us." It seems like this is more for our parents' generation or people stuck in that mindset. I hated this book so much I couldn't bear to finish it. If you're looking for a traditional, anti-feminist view of marriage that is Jesusy enough to make you barf, this is it. Our marriage counselor recommended this book for us to read as a newly married couple, but we couldn't stomach it and it definitely isn't "us." It seems like this is more for our parents' generation or people stuck in that mindset.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keren Threlfall

    The front flyleaf of The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God makes a rather bold statement: "There has never been a book on marriage like The Meaning of Marriage." That seems a rather audacious assertion; but by the time I finished the book, I think I'd concede to read that claim on the back flyleaf, as well. Contents Many marriage books leave me scratching my head, banging my head, or really, really thankful I'm married to the man I am. This boo The front flyleaf of The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God makes a rather bold statement: "There has never been a book on marriage like The Meaning of Marriage." That seems a rather audacious assertion; but by the time I finished the book, I think I'd concede to read that claim on the back flyleaf, as well. Contents Many marriage books leave me scratching my head, banging my head, or really, really thankful I'm married to the man I am. This book did leave me doing the latter, but also left me thinking this would have been a very profitable  book to have read if it had been available as premarital reading (not to mention less head-banging). Timothy and Kathy Keller pack a lot of experience and exegesis into this book, packaged into eight chapters: One: The Secret of Marriage Two: The Power of Marriage Three: The Essence of Marriage Four: The Mission of Marriage Five: Loving the Stranger Six: Embracing the Other Seven: Singleness and Marriage Eight: Sex and Marriage (The book also contains an Introduction, Epilogue, Appendix: Decision Making and Gender Roles, Notes) Although I've yet to meet a Tim Keller book I didn't like, this book pleasantly surprised me in what it had to offer. The style is certainly Kelleresque, yet unique to his other published works. (It is co-authored with his wife Kathy, with Kathy writing the entirety of Chapter Six.) Unlike many marriage books, this book is not written with only married couples or soon-to-be-married singles in mind; it is written to a broad audience, but with particular portions of it specifically addressing singles. The Essence of Marriage One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciated was the Kellers's emphasis on the marriage covenant as the foundation of marriage. And really, this is the essence of marriage and the essence of the book. (Maybe that's why Chapter Three is entitled, "The Essence of Marriage." :)) While I think most contemporary Christians teaching on marriage would acknowledge the covenantal importance of marriage, there is often a subtle shift to teachings that seem to indicate that "keeping the passion alive" is the  way to have a healthy marriage. (This is what Keller includes in his assessment that we most prize "romantic fulfillment" [see quote below] as the key to a happy marriage in our culture.) This is spiritualized and then marketed in numerous ways, coming across in emphases including:"If you practice abstinence before marriage, you'll immediately have amazing sex on your wedding night and beyond," "If you have a weekly date night, you're sure to have a healthy marriage," "If your marriage has stopped sizzling, your marriage has failed and is doomed," and can this misplaced emphasis in parenting and marriage books can often make young parents perceive a dichotomy of the family into the couple vs. the children. And even while many of these books/teachings, if Christian in name, will attest that "love is a choice," it is often portrayed that choosing to love is best displayed by acts of romance. While Keller doesn't address all of these teachings individually, he clearly notes that this type of misplaced preeminence of romance detracts and confuses the essence of marriage. Keller speaks of some of the way marriage has come to be perceived in our culture (as well as comparing and contrasting with traditional societies): "Traditional societies made family the ultimate value in life, and so marriage was a mere transaction that helped your family's interests. By contrast, contemporary Western societies make the individual's happiness the ultimate value, and so marriage becomes primarily an experience of romantic fulfillment. But the Bible sees God as the supreme good--not the individual or the family--and that gives usa view of marriage that intimately unites feeling and duty, passion and promise. This is because at the heart of the Biblical idea of marriage is the covenant." (80-81) (Keller also quotes C.S. Lewis stating, "People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on "being in love" for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one..." (104)) "Sociologists argue that in contemporary Western society the marketplace has become so dominant that the consumer model increasingly characterizes most relationships that historically were covenantal, including marriage. Today we stay connected to people only as long as they are meeting our particular needs at an acceptable cost to us. When we cease to make a profit--that is, when the relationship appears to require more love and affirmation from us than we are getting back--then we "cut our losses" and drop the relationship...Covenant is therefore a concept that is increasingly foreign to us, and yet the Bible says it is the essence of marriage, so we musst take some time to understand it." (81-82) Personal Helpfulness For me personally, I think I had enough of a foundational understanding of marriage to hold the covenantal model of marriage above the consumerist model. Yet, hearing and reading in my pre-marriage preparation, I was often led astray by the syncretization of a covenantal view of marriage and the primacy of romance in marriage. One harmful message that came out during my pre-marriage reading/counseling classes was, "if you remain abstinent, then sexual relationships in marriage will come naturally, immediately, and amazingly." This, of course, was very confusing as a newlywed, specifically for someone whose conscience was bound to the point that when I felt we'd "gone too far" by holding hands before we were married, I felt that in order to avoid further "temptation" that my husband [then fiance] and I should no longer drive places in the same vehicle until we were married. Added to that dynamic, my husband and I also grew up in homes were "The Talk" did not take place, and when the discussion of physical intimacy was scheduled in our pre-marital counseling, we were told that we'd figure things out on our own. Although we weren't completely in the dark, I carried a lot of baggage from some puritanical ultra-purity teachings into our marriage, and carried a lot of guilt into the early years of our marriage when I couldn't flip the switch mentally to go instantaneously from to "purity/"shame to passion. Of course, neither could Tim and Kathy Keller, and neither can many who enter marriage similarly. Reading this book helped me in dealing with a lot of the self-imposed guilt and confusion I've felt over this area, in particular. Somewhat related, I was reminded in yet another and great way in which my husband's patience and gentleness has been manifested toward me over the years as I've wrestled with some of this baggage. And I more clearly see his faithful commitment to continue to love me in the way that Christ selflessly loves the Church. It was, as mentioned earlier, also a reminder to me of God's mercy in giving me the husband I have in Daniel. Though only a few days shy of six years into marriage, there are many aspects of our marriage vows that we lived out much sooner than we had anticipated. My husband has faithfully, selflessly loved and served me through those times, both tragic and triumphant, and this book gave me a deeper depth in the appreciation of his commitment and love. I remember at a time when we had just come through a painful, difficult season of life (from external sources), I saw an article in Time Magazine called "Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution." I remember specifically thinking, "I do. I needed my vows and I need that covenant." Though the storm we weathered didn't originate from our marriage, there were definitely some very deep and low times—times where we were both hurting so deeply we didn't even know how to help one another, and times when it may have been tempting to say "maybe you [and the world] would be better off without me." God's grace brought us through, and our marriage grew and flourished in ways we couldn't have even anticipated. (And yes, I know, our marriage is still quite young and has many, many more seasons of life to grow through, permitting death do not us part.) And while Time's article prompted me to think of how deeply we needed our commitment to one another,* I would have loved to have read this book at that time, as well. There were many additional areas in which the book was helpful, refreshing, encouraging, and challenging. I was glad to be able to read this at the same time as my husband, and it is one we think we will return to through the years. Final Thoughts Of course, the emphasis is not merely on physical relationships in marriage, and to draw that out as the bulk of the book really does disservice to what this book is all about. *Due to my personal emphases above (on covenantal commitment and the false importance of romantic fulfillment), I also want to clarify that Keller does not teach that the Bible claims divorce is never an option, nor does he teach that covenant commitment equals passionless, emotionless duty. Contrarily, he takes time to explain both in a way that brings clarity to some of the harmful and hurtful misapplications in both areas. Like many books by Keller, readers will be challenged to think about more than just the specific theme of the book, and to yearn for a deeper knowledge and walk with God. Some themes I grew from in this book were 1) growing in the Fear of the Lord (and an explanation of the Fear of the Lord), 2) a healthy (but not overzealous) explanation of how "love languages" and family upbringing can affect and/or create and avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings in marriage 3) the depth of the book without depicting opinion as law, 4) the emphases that neither the models of conservative approach nor the secular approach to marriage will lead to a satisfying marriage—only the Christian principle of Spirit-generated selfishness. I really view my first read as an overview/survey, and as I read through again, I know new and different parts of the book will stand out to me. Beyond a careful handling of Scripture, Keller also draws on the wisdom of theologians, philosophers, and numerous books, past and present. And, of course, not only does this book reflect the imprimatur of C.S. Lewis on Keller's teaching and writing, but he also shares how C.S. Lewis was a common thread in influencing the early relationship between Tim and Kathy. Certainly, there are aspects of the book with which I don't agree, Scriptural connections that I don't necessarily see, and analogies which I think break down. But, none of these are issues that I believe would detract from the overall message of the book, even in areas in which there are notoriously dichotomized perspectives among Evangelicals.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    Still the best book on marriage you’ll ever find

  20. 5 out of 5

    Logan Price

    A holistic, but approachable, overview of the biblical vision of marriage. You're in good hands with the Kellers as they are nuanced, thoughtful, and kind. I especially appreciated their chapter on singleness, which provided much-needed balance to some Christians' idolization of marriage. A holistic, but approachable, overview of the biblical vision of marriage. You're in good hands with the Kellers as they are nuanced, thoughtful, and kind. I especially appreciated their chapter on singleness, which provided much-needed balance to some Christians' idolization of marriage.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    Five stars because this is the best book I have read about marriage so far. It’s also the only book I have read about marriage so far. Well, maybe? A quote that meant a lot to me in it is - “One of the greatest expressions of love is the willingness to change.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Enright

    Jung said, “Beware of unearned wisdom.” The greatest merit of this book is Kathy and Tim’s collective, well-earned wisdom that 30 years of marriage has afforded them. This book’s pedestrian language, simple structure, and clear arguments markets itself to the Christian who is not so much interested in the theology of marriage so much as the fundamentals of it. Think of this book as Mere Christianity but less interesting and longer than it should be. Good, not great. Neither Keller is trying to gi Jung said, “Beware of unearned wisdom.” The greatest merit of this book is Kathy and Tim’s collective, well-earned wisdom that 30 years of marriage has afforded them. This book’s pedestrian language, simple structure, and clear arguments markets itself to the Christian who is not so much interested in the theology of marriage so much as the fundamentals of it. Think of this book as Mere Christianity but less interesting and longer than it should be. Good, not great. Neither Keller is trying to give some avant-garde insight on marriage; instead, it’s clear that Kathy and Tim just want to reveal the premise that marriage is a a commitment before God and the church to continue loving another person, even when that person evolves into a stranger over time. You marry then remarry a new iteration of that person everyday until death — and that commitment to “loving a stranger” is worthwhile and sanctifying. Marriage, understood and performed correctly, is a witness to the union we will have with Jesus in the Kingdom of God. Granted, I’ve got obvious problems with the book, particularly Tim’s reluctance to affirm the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ marriages, and Kathy’s insistence on traditional, complementarian gender roles. But you get what you buy. They’re both conservative Presbyterians, so there’s not surprise there. This is the sort of book your white, Southern youth pastor gives you that “totally changed his life,” but you’re embarrassed to say that you thought it was mediocre at most points—really only shining when Keller quotes other authors. I’m probably projecting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heidi'sbooks

    "This is an excellent book for newlyweds, singles and long married couples. The chapter on Loving the Stranger is worth the price of the book. I think many young people go into marriage believing it's all love and romance. They are surprised when they realize that they didn't really know their spouse at all. Also, the struggles of the early years of marriage are real. Here is some real encouragement to understand it's all part of the process of growing together. Marriage reveals character flaws "This is an excellent book for newlyweds, singles and long married couples. The chapter on Loving the Stranger is worth the price of the book. I think many young people go into marriage believing it's all love and romance. They are surprised when they realize that they didn't really know their spouse at all. Also, the struggles of the early years of marriage are real. Here is some real encouragement to understand it's all part of the process of growing together. Marriage reveals character flaws that go unnoticed in more casual relationships, causing distress. But, through working together in Christ, marriage can produce a much stronger character in both spouses. There is also a very good chapter on singleness and seeking marriage. The Keller's Christian viewpoint theologically is that the genders are complementarian, however they are practically egalitarian. The book is organized around the passage of Ephesians 5:18-33.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Can I give this book 6 stars?! This is a powerful, helpful, encouraging book because it brings the power of the gospel to marriage. "Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow". Typical Tim Keller -- warm, clear, addresses Christians and non-Christians equally, culturally well informed and relevant, speaking from firm theological convictions without seeming overly dogmatic. Kathy Keller's influence is evident, meaning the book should be accesible for both men and Can I give this book 6 stars?! This is a powerful, helpful, encouraging book because it brings the power of the gospel to marriage. "Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow". Typical Tim Keller -- warm, clear, addresses Christians and non-Christians equally, culturally well informed and relevant, speaking from firm theological convictions without seeming overly dogmatic. Kathy Keller's influence is evident, meaning the book should be accesible for both men and women. Good sections on singleness, friendship, sex and gender roles. Manages to be theological, practical and interesting, which is a tough combo. The only thing stopping me from blanket recommendation is Tim Keller's professorial style, which might lose a few people. But this is the book I will recommend on marriage from now on.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charisa Shin

    "When you see the problems in each other, do you just want to run away, or do you find a desire to work on them together? If the second impulse is yours, then you have the makings of a marriage. Do you obsess over your partner's external shortcomings, or can you see the beauty within, and do you want to see it increasingly released? Then move forward. The power of truth that marriage has should hold no fear for you." with full honesty, i went into this book skeptically. i mean, big memes, right. "When you see the problems in each other, do you just want to run away, or do you find a desire to work on them together? If the second impulse is yours, then you have the makings of a marriage. Do you obsess over your partner's external shortcomings, or can you see the beauty within, and do you want to see it increasingly released? Then move forward. The power of truth that marriage has should hold no fear for you." with full honesty, i went into this book skeptically. i mean, big memes, right. but instead, i found quite a lot of practical wisdom about what composes a truly Gospel-centered marriage. i wish i had read this at a younger age, but i can only be thankful to glean anything now. imagine upholding marriage as an utmost friendship, a partnership that both furthers and appreciates the other's pursuit of Christ! oh, to be in love with the work God is doing in the other person (and to be intimately involved in it!). i've decided that is what i would want most. keller also had some hard-hitting commentary on singleness, some of which i had never thought about before. in short: God is good through every season; there is no "explanation" for singleness, or conditions that necessarily justify it. the Lord is sovereign through it all. thanks timmy. i am grateful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamaal Williams

    This is the best book that I’ve read on marriage. It is a gospel treasure trove. I re-read it after sometime and found it as insightful and enjoyable to read as when I first read it. This work is instructive for singles and those who are married.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wes Gray

    Wow! Brooke and I went through this book with an older couple for premarital counseling and it was so perfect for that. It led to so many fun and also hard conversations about where we are and where we want to be heading into marriage! Highly recommend for anyone who is married, close to being married, or just wants a better understanding of what marriage is all about!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This is one of the wisest books I've read on marriage. Tim Keller is a pastor in New York City, leading a church of thousands that includes a large presence of singles. A few of the features that help this book stand out among the crowd of Christian marriage books are... 1) A clear and convincing assessment of our Western cultural values around sex, dating, and marriage. For example, he explores how people are increasingly and simultaneously cynical about marriage and idealistic about what they t This is one of the wisest books I've read on marriage. Tim Keller is a pastor in New York City, leading a church of thousands that includes a large presence of singles. A few of the features that help this book stand out among the crowd of Christian marriage books are... 1) A clear and convincing assessment of our Western cultural values around sex, dating, and marriage. For example, he explores how people are increasingly and simultaneously cynical about marriage and idealistic about what they think marriage is. Cultural expectations are both far too low and far too high. 2) Keller breaks through these assumptions with unforgettable one-liners that he justifies very well: "You never marry the right person." "Marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy." "Marriage brings out the worst in you." 3) This is a thoroughly biblically-based and Christ-centered approach to marriage. Among many other things, this means that Keller will not allow us to idolize our spouse or idealize "true love." He also helps explain exactly why we hurt the ones we love the most and how forgiveness actually plays out in relationships. 4) Another helpful feature, and one that is very counter-cultural, is his chapter (actually, written by his wife, Kathy) on gender roles within marriage. What they argue for (from their interpretation of scripture) is complementarianism. That is, that God created male and female differently, in such a way that marriage is a union of similar, yet different beings, for the betterment of both. While I don't follow the Kellers down every one of their implications, I do think this is the best place to go for a careful description of the best potential for husband and wife to serve one another in truth and love. The author/s leave no room to justify patriarchal dominance, and in fact, regularly underscore the radical views on marriage and family that Israel, and later, the Christian church, brought to their historical contexts. As one example, the Christian church honored single-hood as a God-blessed option for life. This in a pagan culture that generally frowned upon widows who hadn't remarried, and singles who had never married. 5) There is a nice chapter on singleness, with lots of practical advice for dating, etc. This chapter convinced me to teach much more about marriage itself when I teach youth about sex, dating & relationships.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sarah

    The Meaning of Marriage is a deeply profound, meaningful, and radical biblical understanding of marriage that everyone could benefit from (believers & nonbelievers alike). Readability: The book could have been shorter and filled with more interpretation of biblical text rather than excerpts of articles and research done by secular sociologists, but it gives good context to compare modern Westernized notions of marriage & compatibility versus what the bible says. There is also a lot of repetition The Meaning of Marriage is a deeply profound, meaningful, and radical biblical understanding of marriage that everyone could benefit from (believers & nonbelievers alike). Readability: The book could have been shorter and filled with more interpretation of biblical text rather than excerpts of articles and research done by secular sociologists, but it gives good context to compare modern Westernized notions of marriage & compatibility versus what the bible says. There is also a lot of repetition of bible verses (used in the same context with very similar examples), as well as quotes from C.S. Lewis (which I did not mind, but non-believers and others might not appreciate this as much). Also, I think the book did a fair job explaining our prospective roles as husband and wife in a way that DID NOT promote sexism, but it was done in somewhat of an apologetic way, under the umbrella of grace and an all-loving God, without taking into context that some readers may read this and criticize gender roles as oppressive to women. It could have been more direct and hard-hitting and unapologetic. Yes, the bible says that women should serve their husbands but it also says that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. It could be argued then that a husband's love requires MORE sacrifice, MORE understanding, MORE love, grace, and ultimately - SERVICE to their wives, thus reminding readers that the bible DOES NOT promote oppression of women & that the verse should not be twisted in such a way to demean women's roles as wives (and to show that people who criticize Christianity for being "sexist" are not quite right). But, I digress. Small points, but some things to keep in mind. Practicability (& what to expect): Everyone is unique and different and special. Therefore, we all face different struggles and hardships. This book is meant to supplement your understanding of the bible; it’s not to replace it. It’s NOT a guidebook that provides step-by-step directions on how to approach specific marital issues. There are some powerful and moving examples to help couples see how a particular couple (namely, the authors and some of their friends) overcame certain struggles, but there is no one size fits all solution. Don't go in assuming that whatever solution worked for one couple (per this book) will work for you. It takes hard work on both sides. It takes a rewiring of the understanding the purpose of marriage on both sides. It takes faith and prayer and service to each other. It takes loving the other when you don’t feel loving. It takes selflessness, sacrifice, and prayer. This book did a great job outlining the meaning of the sentiment I just expressed through the Word. Again, this all sounds pretty and lovely on paper, but *extremely difficult* to do in real life. The book essentially says that if you PUT GOD FIRST in your marriage, then you will have a deeply rich and fulfilling marriage that transcends superficial romantic notions of love. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE: there are no shortcuts. No magical solution. Only determination, grace, hard work, sacrifice, and commitment on both you and your spouse's end to make marriage successful within the meaning of the bible. If you keep that in mind while reading, and you have realistic expectations of what this book is meant to be: supplementary understanding of the biblical purpose of marriage, then it should be an enriching, rewarding reading experience for both you and your significant other. Highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christian Barrett

    Tim and Kathy Keller do a fantastic job of getting at the core of marriage. In a society that says marriage is lame, that gender roles are wicked, and that sex is about getting whatever you want the Keller’s desires to point readers back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ when it comes to marriage is a refreshing and powerful take. They demonstrate that marriage is not about us, nor was it ever supposed to be. Marriage is about God, the gospel, and pointing others (including our spouse) to His glory. Tim and Kathy Keller do a fantastic job of getting at the core of marriage. In a society that says marriage is lame, that gender roles are wicked, and that sex is about getting whatever you want the Keller’s desires to point readers back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ when it comes to marriage is a refreshing and powerful take. They demonstrate that marriage is not about us, nor was it ever supposed to be. Marriage is about God, the gospel, and pointing others (including our spouse) to His glory. The Meaning of Marriage highlights how marriage is to lead to Christ exhilaration and sanctification, and how God uses spouses to do this in the other’s life. I think this quote sums up quite nicely what the Keller’s would say marriage is all about; “What we should say to each other on our wedding day is, ‘As great as you look today, someday you will stand with me before God in such beauty that it will make these clothes look like rags.’” This book has been a blessing as I try to be a godly husband to my wife and I would encourage anyone married (or not married) to read it as they get to the biblical reason for marriage as God intended it to be.

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