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If you could sum up The Meaning of Marriage in three words, what would they be?
Three words? Gentle. Powerful. Truth.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Meaning of Marriage?
I appreciate how Mr Keller uses himself as the foil in his stories, showing us that he has learned many of these lessons the hard way himself. He is not preachy or professorial, but kind and very personable.
Have you listened to any of Lloyd James and Marguerite Gavin ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
The one chapter narrated by Marguerite Gavin is the only flaw in the book for me. Her voice seems stilted and unnatural, and I had to really lean into the content and try to ignore the voice. Mr. James' voice is much easier to listen to for long stretches. Mr. Keller has a very nice, relaxed tone himself, and I wish he might have read his own book.
What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?
The core idea in this book that helped me the most is the comparison of our submission to our mate, to Christ's submission to his Father. Nothing we can willingly defer to our spouse is as great as the gift He gave all of us in his death on the cross. We are not doormats or slaves, but loving, sacrificial gift-givers, imitating the way of Jesus. This contrasts dramatically with what our culture teaches today, namely, that marriage is all about me and my own fulfillment -- a sure recipe for frustration, pain, and failure.Mr. Keller says this all much better than I do...
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My wife and I have led two newly married small groups in the last two years. And given my proclivity to over reading, and reading as one of my primary ways of processing, I have read a number of marriage books in our 15 years of marriage, especially in the last two years. Given that introduction, I think this is the most balanced, most thorough explanation of the purpose and meaning of marriage I have read.
The number one thing I like about this book is that Timothy and Kathy Keller discussion is well reasoned, biblically based, and culturally aware. The Kellers are not advocating for a throwback to some never existed culture or a blind acceptance of current cultural norms around marriage. Instead every time I felt that they started to lean one way or another, almost immediately there was a caveat that brought the discussion back in line.
I also really appreciate that Keller starts the book with a realistic portrayal of the state of marriage without being apocalyptic about the impending doom that will come on the world if we do not radically change.
Toward the end of the book there is also a very good chapter on singleness and dating, which is not often done well in marriage book. This is a book that can and should be read by singles, which is rare. The main advice that I think should be taken by singles and married is that there needs to be more intentional community between singles and married in order that singles get a realistic and open portrayal of what marriage is actually like, that marrieds can speak into the lives of singles about their dating choices (because before marriage is the time to put a stop to bad relationships) and that singles can help remind marrieds that marriage is not the only viable way for Christians to be. There is a lot more practical advice on singleness and dating, but that is primarily for those that are actually single, which I am not.
Personally there were two insights, that while not completely new, I think I heard in a different way. Both were are part of the discussion of gender roles and Ephesians 5. The first is that both husband and wife are to model Jesus to the other and both are to model after Jesus for their role. So based on Eph 5, men are supposed to look to Jesus to learn how to love their wives. And women are supposed to look to Jesus to learn how he submitted to the Father to understand what submission means in the context of the marriage. The second thought follows right after. That if the wife feels oppressed in her submission, then she is not be loved as Christ loves. And if the husband is feels like he is constantly fighting his wife, then one or both are also not acting as Jesus either. Essentially the Keller’s point isn’t that there will not be any conflict if we really are looking toward Jesus as the model in our marriage, but that a marriage that striving after following Christ will not be either avoid conflict inappropriately, nor embrace conflict inappropriately.
I am going to read this again, and I am going to seriously consider how to try and incorporate this into our newly married small group. But this is not a book only for newly marrieds. Highly recommended.
(originally published on my blog bookwi.se)
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