Book Review: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

Last week, I read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. If you ask around for recommendations on marriage books (in the Christian community), chances are this book will be mentioned more than once. It’s been on my list of books to read for about…the last seven years…so I am ashamed to say I just got around to reading it.

From the cover…

Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully, and love him more deeply. Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. But what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy… but holy? And what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?

Let me start by saying, I enjoy good writing. I could disagree with a book in every form but still enjoy quality writing. Thomas is quality. Self-preclaimed “serious” in all matters spiritual, his tone can be quite dry at times, but still maintaining a high standard of language. If you do not enjoy historical, lecture-sytle writing, you might have a hard time perservering through  this book. Not because the ideas are not interesting, but because the style is a bit dry. That being said, I particularly enjoy this type of writing. I felt like I was sitting in a class of a great professor and I could’ve listened all day long. Thomas writes with a wisdom beyond his years and I very much enjoyed learning from him.

There were a few ideas that I found to be pivotal to my view of marriage. First, I have never thought of marriage as a spiritual discipline. In the same way that I train myself in the study of scripture, prayer, meditation, fasting, etc., I can also train myself to be a good wife (my paraphrase of his idea). I’ve always made the conscious decision to continually work on bettering our marriage, but not necessarily for the goal to make it more holy. He presents this idea in a very thought-provoking way, that you will just have to read to understand:) He also talks about the “holy couple.” Instead of worrying about how you will present yourself (singular) to the Lord when it is finished, think of yourself as a unit…a holy couple.

He also brought in a lot of Christian historical tradition, which I particularly enjoyed. Side note: Thomas is an excellent storyteller. This book was full of stories: both historical and modern, that were extremely helpful both with the flow and overall theme of the book. He contrasted the historical Christian view of the most holy saints dedicating their life to the Lord in the form of celibacy to the rest of Christians who chose to marry. Who had more potential for holiness? Monks whose sole responsibility was to serve the Lord? Or a person married to another person, serving them as unto the Lord (as well as the many other responsibilities that come along with marriage)?

Interesting stuff.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to anyone really…married or not. The book is not overly practical, but will train you in a good theology of marriage and its role in the life of the Christian. If you are new to reading books with a more academic tone, but want to read a book on marriage, I might start with something a little easier to read. It’s not that this book is a difficult read, just a tad on the dry side. This book will challenge you, make you think seriously about issues in your marriage, and encourage you to perservere as unto the Lord.

 

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