The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God was written by popular pastor Timothy Keller (from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) with his wife Kathy, and is based on an acclaimed sermon series he delivered on the topic of marriage and Christianity. It is hands down, without a doubt, the best work on marriage I’ve read.
I’ve long been appreciative of the teaching of Tim Keller. I was first exposed to his work via The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, a book that played an important part in confirming my faith during a time of serious doubt and questioning. I was immediately impressed with Keller’s ability to communicate profound concepts in a concise and clear way, without oversimplifying.
Although clearly written from the Christian worldview, any married couple could benefit from reading The Meaning of Marriage. Indeed, any single person would benefit from reading this book, because it so deftly turns the tables on the conventional wisdom and deeply ingrained cultural norms regarding marriage. It should be required reading not only for those that are currently married (no matter for how long), but also for that are pursuing marriage and anyone seeking a deeper understanding marriage.
Tim and Kathy Keller tackle some really tough issues in this relatively short work (about 200 pages) but they’ve done the research. Their claims on what constitutes a Biblical marriage and how marriage has historically been understood are well documented and the notes in the back are very helpful.
I was particularly impressed with the brief history of marriage. The Kellers' assertion that humanity has rarely known a time when marriage did not exist primarily for the common good of the community is fascinating. Their discussion on how “old marriage” is actually more freeing than new cultural norms alone makes The Meaning of Marriage worth reading.
Add to this a thoughtful, non-legalistic treatment of gender roles, a robust affirmation of singleness (an idea we can’t emphasize enough as a Church these days), frank discussion on the role of sex in marriage, and you get what I think is probably the most readable, comprehensive, biblical book on marriage that’s out there.
This is going to be my go-to engagement-slash-wedding gift.
You can read one of my favorite sections of the book, “You Never Marry the Right Person,” here.