An Edifying Vision Of Marriage -- By: Andrew David Naselli
JBMW 17:2 (Fall 2012) p. 48
An Edifying Vision Of Marriage
A Review of Timothy Keller, with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. New York: Dutton, 2011.
Research Manager for D. A. Carson; Administrator of Themelios
Moore, South Carolina
There are dozens of good Christian books on marriage. Why another one? Because our cultural context has changed so drastically.
Tim Keller has witnessed this change from a front-row seat since 1989, when he planted Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, which he still pastors. He penetratingly understands how non-Christians and young Christians tend to think about the Bible’s counter-cultural teachings on marriage. His church reflects the demographics of center-city Manhattan: over 80% of the people are single. Keller has found that singles are very interested in the topic of marriage, and this book is based on his most listened-to sermons: a nine-part series he preached on marriage in 1991.
This is Keller’s sixth book published by Dutton. The first five are The Reason for God (2008), The Prodigal God (2008), Counterfeit Gods (2009), Generous Justice (2010), and King’s Cross (2011). Like the previous ones, this book’s target audience is broad. Keller successfully reaches his “primary goal”: “to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible” (12). This is a book I would give to Christians and non-Christians, married and single, older couples and newlyweds, engaged couples and singles—including singles who are not interested in getting married. Keller weaves the gospel throughout the book while disarmingly exposing harmful views on marriage, realistically explaining how God designed marriage to work, and powerfully demonstrating how glorious marriage is. He anticipates objections (e.g., regarding homosexuality or the role of women), probably states them better than the objectors could themselves, and respectfully responds.
In contrast to some of Keller’s previous books (e.g., Counterfeit Gods or King’s Cross), Keller’s exegesis is easy to follow straight through to his theological statements and applications. Sometimes Keller shares a brilliant insight but bases it on a text that I’m not convinced supports it. But this book straightforwardly explains and applies Ephesians 5:21-33, and Keller shares, “I follow closely [Peter T.] O’Brien’s exegesis of the Ephesians 5 passage throughout this book” (253 n. 53).
The book’s argument unfolds ...
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