This year I will read all of the Timothy Keller books I own– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto.
The fifth and final book up on my list is Timothy Keller’s ‘The Meaning of Marriage“. Once again, Timothy Keller hits it out of the ballpark. This book, “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” explains marriage in such a way that I had never even thought of before, in a fuller, richer manner that makes so much sense it now seems illogical to approach it any other way. I recommend it to everyone- married couples and singles like myself alike. This book looks at God’s invention of marriage and the many complexities that go along with it and presents God’s plan, and practical solutions to issues in such a way that we can apply it to our own lives.
In today’s culture there are many different views of marriage, but the truth is that once you have found a partner who is on the same spiritual path as yourself, the marriage is the statement- or the covenant, that this man and woman will support one another in their walk. Marriage is not something one person goes into alone- in fact many issues in a marriage can be found rooted in self-centeredness. ‘When the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone.” So what is marriage for? “It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have.” For a happy and successful marriage, we must see that marriage is designed to make us holy. “You see even now flashes of glory. You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be.”
In fact, the wedding itself is not just a celebration of a couple’s love and promise to spend the rest of their lives together. “Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now- that can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstances.” And as I hear, all married couples will feel this way. Take a look at any relationship. You have to work at it. Together, hopefully- and alone at first if you have to.
There is even a chapter for us singles. Keller attacks those preconceived cultural notions that someone who is single is somehow less than others for being so. The Bible says that being single and being married are both good states to be in. In fact, Christianity affirmed the goodness of single life as no other faith or worldview ever has. “If singles learn to rest in and rejoice in their marriage to Christ, that means they will be able to handle single life without a devastating sense of being unfulfilled and unformed.” In fact- married couples must do this as well, because there is not ever a single spouse who has not let the other down. Keller goes on to explain the goodness of singles seeking marriage, and practical advice for those seeking it.
Also included in Keller’s book is spiritual advice on how to love your spouse when they are not loving or even have turned into someone you don’t know, sex in (and out) of marriage, and an in-depth look at how marriage mirrors our covenant with God. This book neither idealizes nor rejects the institution, but continually points us back to the relationship between God and man. It is a hopeful and helpful look at single life and married life for anyone from singles wanting marriage to those who don’t, to couples getting married, to newlyweds, to those with years of marriage under their belts. It’s a truly refreshing look at both what to expect and (for me) what to look for in a potential future spouse. Please please please, read this book!