A Review Of William And Aida Spencer And Steve And Celestia Tracy. “ Marriage At The Crossroads: Couples In Conversation About Discipleship, Gender Roles, Decisions Making And Intimacy” -- By: Heath Lambert

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 18:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: A Review Of William And Aida Spencer And Steve And Celestia Tracy. “ Marriage At The Crossroads: Couples In Conversation About Discipleship, Gender Roles, Decisions Making And Intimacy”
Author: Heath Lambert


A Review Of William And Aida Spencer And Steve And Celestia Tracy. “
Marriage At The Crossroads: Couples In Conversation About
Discipleship, Gender Roles, Decisions Making And Intimacy”

Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 2009.

Heath Lambert

Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling
Boyce College
Louisville, Kentucky
Executive Director, National Association of Nouthetic Counselors

Marriage at the Crossroads by William and Aida Spencer and Steve and Celestia Tracy is well-described by its thorough subtitle as “Couples in Conversation About Discipleship, Gender Roles, Decision Making and Intimacy.” The book is an effort to take those topics and discuss them from the vantage points of two separate perspectives in the gender debate. The Spencers write on those topics from an egalitarian perspective, and the Tracys write from a, so-called, “soft complementarian” perspective (51).

The couples take turns providing their perspective on the issues listed in the sub-title above, and then they collaborate on an interactive review of each other’s treatment where they discuss areas of agreement and disagreement. The goal of such a dialogue is to “leave the polemics behind and strive to be fair, reasonable and irenic with each other’s view” (12). I love that spirit of fairness, reasonableness, and irenicism and so will try to replicate the format of agreement and disagreement used by the book’s authors.

With regard to agreement, there is much to celebrate in Marriage at the Crossroads. First, both couples agree that marriage is not about marriage, but about growing together as disciples of Jesus Christ. Some disagreement exists between the authors (and will exist between both sets of authors and complementarians) about how this truth gets fleshed out, but there is consensus that Jesus is the priority for marriage. This joint commitment is represented well by the Tracys, “Jesus jolts us by teaching us that the highest good isn’t our marital bliss, self-actualization, or happiness, but being a faithful follower of Christ” (38).

Second, both couples make lengthy arguments about the importance of relational intimacy preceding sexual intimacy in a couple’s physical relationship. The authors note how strikingly similar were their respective treatments in this regard (182). In a sex-saturated culture where even Christians can be obsessed with the erotic, it is a happy reality that the Spencers and Tracys paint a beautiful picture of the sexual delights of marriage on the larger canvas of a close relationship outside the bedroom.

A final area of agreement and commendation is the beautiful accounts of marital affection that are sprinkled ...

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