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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2014
I read this for a clergy wives book group, and I thought I would love it because I loved Prodigal God and Generous Justice, but I only liked rather than loving it. This is a book that focuses on the ‘theology’ of marriage and tries to minimise specific application. In some ways this is good, because there are so many Christian books on marriage that say ‘this is our marriage and what we’ve learnt, so all marriages should be like this’, so it is good to have more of a focus on the theology.

I found most of the Bible stuff helpful but familiar material. He and his wife believe the Bible teaches differing gender roles (ie men as ‘head’ over wife), so this may be difficult for people who disagree with this interpretation and I wasn’t completely sold on their application of these verses, although they steer clear from being overly prescriptive about what this would look like in individual marriages, and the examples they give from their own marriage indicate that the application they envisage is far from a 1950s stereotype. For me, the great strength of this book for me was the vision it gave of what a Christian marriage could be like: I liked that they took Ephesians 5:25-27 “husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, making her holy” (p.120) as an injunction for both partners in a marriage to “help each other to become our future glory-selves” – to see the person that God created us to be and helping one another become that person in the context of great friendship and sacrificial love. This did what Keller does best: present an apologetic for Christianity that is truly attractive.

However, I do wish he had said more about the possibility of abuse. We had an animated discussion about this issue in our book club – it is difficult to describe what abuse looks like, because there is a sliding scale, and it can seem obvious to outsiders that hitting or raping someone is abuse (in an appendix the Kellers say that the loving response of a wife who is being beaten continually would be to get her husband arrested). Yet most people who are victims of abuse don’t realise their relationship is abusive for a long time, because it builds up insidiously and has become normalised. They reason: “yes, he hit me, but it was my fault for provoking him. He’s always warning me he has a bad temper. If I had submitted maybe I wouldn’t have provoked him”, or “well, I did say I didn’t want to, and that it hurt, but he said I was his wife and I had taken a vow to give him my body, so – that’s not really rape…is it?’ For this reason I wish Tim and Kathy had dealt with the issue of consent and not assumed that abusive relationships were self-evident. For example, the Kellers say that loving someone means having sex with them even when you don’t feel like it. When they say this, I imagine they have in mind the husband or wife who just feels a bit tired and would rather watch TV that night but agrees to put their tiredness aside and make love even though they don’t really feel like it at first, (and probably assumes that once they embark on it, it will be enjoyable for them as well). I do wish they had specified that particular situation instead of leaving it open for victims of abuse to assume that the Kellers are saying you shouldn’t complain about being raped in a marriage. Violence against women is frighteningly common, even in church communities, and I think increasingly Christian books on marriage and sex need to take this into consideration.

Overall, it is a good book for someone wanting a somewhat dense theology of marriage (with a thoughtful complementarian approach to gender roles in marriage), but not for those who are looking for more practical application.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2014
My husband and I have been married for 30 years and wish that we had read this sooner! It is a very fresh, Christian view on marriage - what it's true purpose is and in general terms how to achieve that. Written by a couple who are not afraid to admit that they have had difficult times and written for everyone - whether married or single.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2013
I really enjoyed reading this book. It highlights both the joys as well as the difficulties of marriage. The thing I most liked was how the author shows how the difficulties encountered in marriage can actually have a profoundly positive effect on our lives and our growth as christians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2013
This is perhaps the most Biblical and comprehensive in-depth study on the meaning and purpose of marriage, and is such a helpful guide for singes, that I have just purchased two more copies to pass on to single, friends. An essential read!
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on 27 December 2014
An excellent resource for both couples exploring the possibility of marriage, and already married couples. Tim Keller outlines several important biblical concepts of love between a man and woman in a way that is accessible, intellectual and biblically sound. Working through this book has helped us learn much about each other's dreams, fears, character traits, preferences. It has given us plenty to discuss and consider with each other. It continuously points us back to God instead of each other for satisfaction, fulfillment and strength.

Even for non-Christian couples, the beginning of the book takes a closer look at often quoted and depressing statistics about marriage, questions the reasons for such high divorce rates and unhappiness in global marriage culture, and presents a counter-cultural approach to it based on years of experience in ministry.

Personally, we, and indeed some other couples, found the chapter on gender roles to be too strongly inclined in the complimentarian view. Having said that, the start of the chapter presents very good biblical principles of gender equality. As this issue is approached very differently in different cultures and times, studying it together should prompt further discussion and research into alternative views, should the couple's view be slightly different than the authors'. This then should generate an agreement, sacrifice or service into a view which both parties are comfortable with. There are other excellent resources out there for people who favor the more egalitarian view or wherever within the continuum of gender roles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2014
Extremely helpful book for understanding what marriage is, and the implications of that. I read this in preparation for getting married, and discussing it with my fiancee was a wonderful way of deepening our relationship. Keller sets out realistic expectations for marriage, helping us look forward to marriage without seeing it as the fulfilment of our lives. This book is a lifelong investment, and will no doubt be re-read over the years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2014
I'm about 1/4 of the way through this, and it's excellent! A great biblical basis, with sound teaching and advice that is well applied to the practical and every day. I would thoroughly recommend this to any one considering marriage, engaged, or married already!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2013
Marriage is all about the Gospel! That's all you need to know. But really, this book helps you put things into perspective. Read it!
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on 18 July 2013
Timothy Keller sets out a vary clear defence of traditional view of Marriage and speaks with a prophetic voice to the self centered Society that is redefining Marriage to fit their ME orientation. Hopefully some of the leaders on the world seen will listen.
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on 3 May 2013
Timothy Keller has really expounded the topic of marriage with this book. He explains it from a biblical perspective and in an easy to understand way. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone considering marriage.
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