Some reviewers seem to think Tim and Kathy Keller present groundbreaking new ideas in their book The Meaning of Marriage. They don't, but they do present ideas and principles just as alien to many in our postmodern culture as brand new ones—the Kellers present fundamentally biblical ideas about marriage, love, sex, singleness, and the nature of union.
As the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Timothy Keller has taught and counseled a very large congregation comprised mostly of singles since 1989. In that time, he's encountered and tried to dispel just about every imaginable myth and misconception about what marriage is and should be, as well as countering with the truth of God's Word.
He's also been married to his wife and co-author Kathy for 37 years, and experienced for himself the difficulty, occasional ugliness, and Christ-honoring beauty of Christian marriage. He proclaims at the outset: he's tired of sentimental hogwash about married life, and anxious to show people the everyday humanity and hard work that go into a successful marriage.
The most shocking chapter for those uninitiated to the realities of the married state is called "Loving the Stranger." No one knows, state the Kellers, who they're going to marry; true knowledge of the other only comes after the wedding, when they settle down to life together. The hard work comes when all the hidden character traits come to the surface and both parties must be selfless servants in order to flourish and sustain the relationship.
Throughout, the Kellers are frank and forthright. There isn't a lot of "extra" information, just the cultural mumbo-jumbo contrasted starkly with biblical truth in a way that's both accessible and direct. And in case you're thinking The Meaning of Marriage is only for married couples, the authors state explicitly at the outset that it's for singles, Christians, seekers, old married couples, and anyone in between who wants to know the truth about a subject so distorted and misunderstood by so many.
Having said that, this easy-to-read volume is particularly excellent for engaged and newlywed couples. The Kellers pack the wisdom of a long and healthy marriage as well as years of preaching God's Word into its pages, and while Christian couples certainly need the support of their congregations, friends and families, the profound insight offered here is nothing to take lightly or ignore.
In the interest of partnership and mutual submission, if you are married or about to become so, read this book as a couple. There's plenty to talk about, and being on the same page is essential to a godly relationship. If you aren't married, read this book to get a more realistic, thoroughly Scriptural view of how to find a mate, what they should be like, and what to expect once the two of you pledge your lives to one another.
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