Amazing! Contemporary Book on Christian Marriage Says Something New!

Okay, so I’m over-sensationalizing that a bit. Do you blame me? Sensationalizing garners page views and sells books. But in all seriousness, I was mightily impressed by this book, Are You Waiting for ‘the One’?: Cultivating Realistic, Positive Expectations for Christian Marriage.

{full disclosure: my forthcoming book shares a publisher with this one–InterVarsity Press (IVP.) }

Margaret Kim Peterson and her husband, Dwight N. Peterson both teach in the theological studies department at Eastern College in St. David’s, PA, a school which, if I could roll back the clock, I would’ve gladly attended as an undergraduate. (As long as I could still have Tim, whom I met at the college we both actually attended.) One of Eastern’s most popular classes is co-taught by the Drs. Peterson on Christian marriage, and the book takes shape from the interaction with these students over the years.

Their intense and thoughtful interaction with Christian (largely evangelical) young people accounts, I suspect, for their compelling description of the Christian alternative-romance genre of books–I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Passion & Purity, When God Writes Your Love Story. These books–and books like them–proffer a myth of ‘perfect love,’ in which, if the boy and the girl “puts God first,” God pitches in by giving them everything on their “lists.” The perfect romantic fantasy is dramatic, assumes good health, smooth sailing, and plenty of money. By contrast, say the Petersons, real love is unitive, community-forming, and “has room for the fact that life is not perfect and we are not either.”

And the Petersons’ words ring with authenticity, for their marriage is a second marriage for each of them. Margaret tells the story of her first marriage to Hyung-Goo Kim, who died of AIDS just four years after they wed, in her book Sing Me To Heaven. Dwight’s first marriage ended in divorce. And so they come to the subject with humility and a big dose of common sense, without none of the arrogance of people who’ve done everything ‘right’ and then have sat back to watch God rain down blessings in the form of a ‘perfect’ life. But the real strength of this book is that it presents a vision for Christian marriage:

“Marriages and families that participate in and reflect the redeeming love of God in Christ.”

because

“Marriages and families are not ends in themselves, rather they are forms under which human beings can be members of the family of God”

because, when you come down to it,

“The Biblical family is the church.”

Amen!

They go on to discuss at some length the qualities of a Christian family–hospitality, compassion, justice, and reconciliation, with the ultimate goal that the family is a peaceable community that makes room for others–

because

“the intimate and exclusive bond…between husbands and wives is designed to bear fruit in the form of a home and a life that are open to relationship with those children or others whom Christ may lead to our doors.”

More than simply a “Christian book on marriage,” this is a book on Christian marriage, and it is theologically rich, Gospel-centered, generous, and gracious. Definitely worth your time.

{Yes. And I love this line contra newly popular conceptions of ‘Biblical’ headship: “The New Testament has very little to say about leadership-as-power and what it does say is not positive.}

Whether you’re married or not, I think you’ll find this book a refreshing change from the same old spiel.

One thought on “Amazing! Contemporary Book on Christian Marriage Says Something New!

  1. Rachel,

    Sorry to get in touch with you this way.

    I would like to interview you on the topic of your most recent her.meneutics blog post, if I may. I am a radio feature reporter who writes and produces segments of the radio feature Inside Out for Family Life, a radio network with a radio broadcast listening area in New York State and Pennsylvania, and an internet stream at http://www.fln.org.

    I can tell you more if you are interested. And I hope you are.

    Martha

    MarthaManikas-Foster@fln.org

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