Sacred Marriage: Book Review

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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.

Summary

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”.

For couples and groups, Thomas provides questions based on each chapter in the back of the book.  In addition, he has also published several helps, including a participants guide, and a devotional.

Review

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.

Favorite Quotations:

On Reconciliation:

“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

Recommendation

Yes/No:  Yes.  In fact, I already have.

For Who:

“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.

Please SHARE this blogpost to your own blogs, and your social media sites if you would like to.  Also, please COMMENT and let me know what you think!

-Jon

Links

To Buy the Book (and support a Christian Bookstore): Click Here

To learn more about the author: Click here for his website, Here for his facebook page

To learn more about the publisher: Click here for their website, Here for their facebook page

 

The Dream: A Revealed Purpose

In my last blog post, I challenged my readers to think about their priorities, their passions, and their dreams.  I also told them my own which I will restate:

“My priorities would be things that are most important to me, which would have to be my faith, my family, and my girlfriend; to be honest, a “career” to me is simply a way to allow a possible future family to exist…unless I find something I love.  My passions would be things that are at the root of my being, and/or things I get excited about, and they are helping people, building peace & community, and seeking to grow, spiritually.”

The thing is though, I can think of a career I would love.  Several actually. But there is one that hit me this past year that I can’t shake.   So what is that dream, you ask? I’ll get there.  But right now I want to lay out what led me to that dream.  Don’t worry, its just the next two paragraphs.

As I said before, I’m a Christian family man, and less focused on having a career where I make 6 figures but am rarely home.  As I have started to think more about getting married in the future, I realized how ridiculous a 9-5 (or more hours) job is.  You work most of your day because you (in my case) want to provide for your family, but your working takes a lot of time away from them.  There HAS to be a better way than that.  And with all that time working, that leads little time for ministry and faith growth unless I can do that at the workplace.

My passion is to help people. I am a people person.  And I can’t do that effectively by working a 9-5 at a company I am not passionate about.  I desire to be in the front of being able to help, and not the guy working for the guy, who works for the guy, that does more of the relational business things.  I am a youth pastor; I have been able to tell teenage boys an argument against sex before marriage that even made them say I had a point, so based on that event alone, I have some experience.

So where do my priorities and my passions intersect?

What if I could work with my wife in the future? What if my kids could grow up around us as well in that environment? What if I could help people, daily, and give them a place to come?  What if I could help tie families, friends, and even whole communities closer together?  What if I could help people deepen their relationship with the Lord? But for all of that to happen, I would probably have to be “the boss”, or at the very least have a lot of leeway as a manager..

So this is my idea:

I dream to own a coffee house. I like coffee, maybe even love it, but its not my “passion”.  However, through a coffee house, I could do my true passions, and give time to true priorities.  I also enjoy making things that people appreciate.

But the dream does not stop there.  The dream continues to include a coffee shop that operates as a community “hub”; a place people gather.  How often do you really feel comfortable to stay at a starbucks? Its too cold, too industrial…at least the ones I have been to.  What if you went to a coffee house that thrived with events like trivia night, open mic night, local bands, local artists work displayed..the typical great indie coffee shop stuff.  But there is more…

What if that coffee shop hosted a book club that read books that are popular that year? Like in the past year, The Hobbit, perhaps?  What if that same coffee shop also had a bible study?  These two clubs would meet on separate nights, but most likely, some members would come on other nights during the week.  A book club member, and a bible study member could come to the coffee shop on the same night to have a nice caramel Macchiato, and walk out with a new friend, who may have slightly different interests.  Community.

If the book club person is a Christian, the two Christians may have a nice talk on theology and/or Christian living, and possibly how the book the one guy is reading connects to the book the other guy is reading, and both could join the other club as well.  If the book club person is not a Christian, then the Bible study person has an opportunity of sharing they are part of a bible study, that bible study that would equip the person speaking on how to talk to people, share the gospel, and share the love of Christ.  At the end of the day, the non-Christian may have a Christian friend who is one of the few Christians they know, and/or of the few loving Christians they know. Community.

I could then talk to people about their lives, provide advice, or simply listen.  We would also have Christian support for us from the Bible study, as well as kind support from satisfied customers.

That’s the dream. To be an asset to a community. To blend Christian and secular culture, while retaining a common ground on being a family-friendly place to go.  A place not just open on weekend nights, or only geared towards youth (which those places have their place), but a place where all are welcome.  And a place that gives out free bibles to all who want and need one, as well as free soup to families or individuals in need…That’s what i want.

So how does that “dream” become a reality?

I have to practice my barista skills for sure…but there is more than that.  There is practical stuff like budgeting, strategic planning, market analysis, etc..

And guess who is doing a strategic plan for the company he is interning for? Yep. Experience.  I also drafted an estimated start-up capital needed spreadsheet, including an estimated 3 month advance in rent, as well as started brewing coffee and tea to sell in mason jars last year, making a website: http://www.baumanbrewers.webs.com.  I had/have a successful little business selling to college kids. Marketing and a good product will do that.

When is it (the big dream) going to happen?  I am shooting for 10 years or less from when I am 22 (next February, 2014).  I want to be young enough so that I can be with the business to see it grow, and financially suited enough to take the risk, or to find potential investors.

That’s my dream. And its a real dream. A dream that CAN happen. A dream that I am working towards, even now.   What is your dream?  What are you doing to work towards it?

-Jon