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To those who know me personally, you probably know, but to those who do not, some big news recently happened for me: I am now engaged to my girlfriend- now fiancee. Being 22 years old, this was not just “something to do”, but was completely intentional. It frankly is not “normal” for a 22 year old guy to desire to “settle down” and get married this young. But it has always been my desire to find whom I would marry, and once I found her, well, why wait pointlessly when I know that I desire to be with her, and serve her, for the rest of my life?
But it wasn’t easy. And I did not make the decision lightly. I listened to many sermons on marriage, some being good, some being less than desirable, but the most benefitting wisdom came from listening to Paul Washer. But I wanted more than just an hour long sermon, or even a sermon series, I wanted something that I could chew and digest on my own time; something I could carry with me, and something that had sound biblical wisdom… I wanted to read a book on marriage. I wanted to overcome the apathy of my society by caring more about preparing for the marriage, than the wedding day.
And so, I started reading “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas after having it recommended to me at Hackman’s Bible Bookstore. The book was published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan in the year 2000.
The full title for Thomas’ book is “Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”. The title provides a good summary of what Thomas writes about; his main points revolve around what God desires for marriage, and he provides illustrations of what that covenant of marriage looks like; providing examples from others, as well as from his own marriage. The book tries to take the theological truths of marriage, and couple them with the application of those truths. Thomas brings a lot of his points back to Scripture, as well as concepts learned through the Gospel message such as “Reconciliation”.
I loved this book because it was a good mix of theological truths, and practical application. Through looking through the marriage book section, it seemed to be that there were a lot of books from the theological and applicational sides, but not as many that seemed to provide the mix that I desired from a marriage book. “Sacred Marriage” fits that bill.
Thomas does a lot to deconstruct selfishness, and show how harmful it is in a marriage. He pin points specific situations in which he, or those he knew, let their selfishness get the best of them. He does this most convincingly in talking about reconciliation, and how it needs to be lived out in our lives. He impressed me by his strong stand against Divorce, while still recognizing the biblical allowances for it to happen.
But the author also talks about the harder issues; specifically on how being single has long been seen, and still is sometimes seen, as being more committed to God than being married, or pursuing marriage.
The only negative that I found within the book is that some chapters seem to have a more noticeable biblical tie than others. However, I do not think it would be fair of me to let that impact my overall opinion of the book too much because the book was not written to define the biblical covenant of marriage, and all of its distinctives, but rather as a helpful, biblical, aid for couples, and those preparing for relationships.
“Everything I am to say and do in my life is to be supportive of this gospel ministry of reconciliation, and that commitment begins by displaying reconciliation in my personal relationships, especially in my marriage” – Thomas, pg. 34
“This is a fallen world. Let me repeat this: You will never find a spouse who is not affected in some way by the reality of the fall. If you can’t respect THIS spouse because she is prone to certain weaknesses, you will never be able to respect ANY spouse” – Thomas, pg. 69
“If there is one thing young engaged couples need to hear, it’s that a good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for. It takes struggle. You must crucify your selfishness. You must at time confront, and at other times confess. The practice of forgiveness is essential” – Thomas, pg. 133
“Our faith can infuse a deadened or crippled marriage with meaning, purpose, and – in what we so graciously receive from God – fulfillment. Christianity doesn’t leave us in an apathetic stupor – it raises us and our relationships from the dead! It pours zest and strength and purpose into an otherwise wasted life” – Thomas, pg. 151
Yes/No: Yes. In fact, I already have.
“Sacred Marriage” has become the book that I would recommend to any Christian I know who is married, engaged, in a relationship, or even someone who is single and desires a marriage relationship in the future. I would recommend it because it has such a high view of God, putting him first in your relationship, and Thomas does a really good job of convicting the reader of even the “little things” that we do, or think, that could be harmful to our marriage.
This book would be great to do for counseling sessions, church small groups, or even as a book a youth group looks at when discussing what a God-honoring marriage is supposed to look like. As a Youth Leader for several years, I have seen and heard of how churches talk about love and relationships, and honestly, most of the time its just “Don’t have sex until you are married”, and “Don’t get a divorce”, which are both true things, BUT more could be done in actually preparing our youth, and reminding our adults, about what true biblical love and marriage is supposed to look like. Sacred Marriage would be a benefit for this cause.
And I highly recommend this book to you.
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