The Meaning of Marriage; by Tim and Kathy Keller

Erica and I picked up this book in the middle of last week, because we decided to read it together. That meant she read it in two days, and I took almost a week.

The book is indeed about marriage, but I strongly suggest it to anyone, regardless of relational status: single and ambitious to marry, single and reluctant, single and perfectly content, newly in a relationship, engaged, married (whether for a long or short time,) and whether your marriage is healthy or struggling.
The whole book is an examination of marriage as it relates to and demonstrates the Gospel, as the subtitle indicates: “Facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God.”

Every page of this book carries weighty wisdom to apply to our perspective, philosophy, and/or practice of marriage. A perpetual underliner, I have marks almost everywhere. But the one quote I’ll put down as, for me, the summary of the book, reads as follows:

“when over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known but not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

I think that sums up well the heart of the book, which gets to the point of what marital love is like: it is humble and serving, like Jesus was humble and served us. It is about loving someone despite how they may hurt us, just as Jesus loved us though our sin crucified Him. It’s about loving each other not because of how attractive we are now, but because we see in each other what God wants to do, and we are attracted to the “glory-self” of the other – the person God is creating through sanctification.

If you read it with a tender conscience, this book holds the potential to radically redefine what we mean when we tell our spouse or potential spouse, “I love you.” It’s made me re-evaluate what I mean when I say those words. And since I can’t begin to fill in the most important gaps, I simply suggest you read this book as soon as possible.

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