An Unexpected Love

Here in the U.S., we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day this week.  With that in mind, I’m sharing my re-telling of this love story from Old Testament times.  For all David’s ups and downs, he knew what it was to be mightily loved by God — and he was fortunate enough to have the love of one very wise and very strong woman . . .

Oh, how she had grown to hate him. Ten thousand offenses, both small and large, had accumulated over the years since their arranged marriage.

Practical and traditional, Father had seen a prosperous match:  “Abigail, you will marry a descendant of Caleb,” he had exulted. Abigail had found no delight, no dignity in the homeland of this husband whose given name would be forever lost beneath the wreckage of his character:  Nabal –“The Fool.”   

Playing hostess to his drunken friends and enduring his loutish company, the loneliness was excruciating. Even so, she thanked Yahweh every day that there were, as yet, no children from this unfortunate match. “I am your servant,” she prayed each day at sunrise and found, over time, that the God of Israel had become her comfort in this desert-life.

When hope for love has left a marriage, what remains?

. . . unless the rattling husk becomes a place for something new to grow.   Slowly, Abigail began to notice the workings of Nabal’s household. Her quick mind took in the details of the livestock business, the buying and selling, the shearing and marketing of fine wool. She had long ago stopped hoping for love, but one day, she realized that the respect and confidence of the family servants had become her consolation, a gift from Yahweh. 

The season of shearing was upon them with its steady hum of activity, but Abigail welcomed the challenge and the stimulation, planning meals for the shearers, managing the bountiful output, and arranging for its transport. During a lull in the chaos, she was catching a breeze in the doorway when Othniel, her faithful steward, appeared, wild-eyed, breathing like a frightened creature.

“What is it, Othniel?” she asked.

“You know that David, the chosen of God, and his men have been protecting our flocks and our shepherds for some time.” 

Abigail nodded.  “Go on.”

“They have been like a city wall to us and to our herds, and so David sent his messengers to request protection money and provisions, a part in our feasting . . .  They were taken to the master.”

Abigail dropped her face into her hands and listened, knowing that what followed could only be bad news.

And it was: 

Disrespect.
Greed.
A refusal to provide reasonable compensation for services rendered.

When Othniel’s words confirmed her fears, she asked, “Have they gone?” 

Perhaps it was not too late to undo The Fool’s damage.

“The master has sent them away empty-handed.  They promise revenge, that everyone in the household will feel their anger.  . . I have said nothing to the master.”

“That is well,” she replied, flying into action. “We must move quickly.”

From shearing season’s full larder, Abigail rattled off a hurried and portable menu and directed Othniel to load it onto donkeys and to lead the way to David and his men.

“I will follow close behind,” she assured him.

Hurriedly, she changed out of her work clothes, mounted her own donkey, and followed. But suddenly there they were, rounding a corner with strapped-on swords like a military detachment – headed toward her home.  David was in the lead, but he stopped in his tracks when Abigail dismounted and fell on her face at his feet.

Her words tumbled out:

“Do not listen to my husband, The Fool;
As his name is, so is he;
If your men had only come to me,
they would have found a welcome and feasting.”

Abigail lifted her eyes in time to see surprise register on David’s tanned face.

“Therefore, I have brought the feast to you.”  She gestured toward the loaded caravan.  Was it just her imagination, or did David’s eyes move reluctantly away from hers?

Emboldened by his attention, she continued with words that she scarcely recognized as her own:
“Please do not let your name be associated with revenge and bloodshed, but accept these gifts. Because you have fought Yahweh’s battles, He will wrap up your life with His treasure and will certainly make for you an enduring kingdom. He will cast aside your enemies like a stone hurled from a sling. When Yahweh has brought these words to pass, remember me His servant.

Then, tearing her gaze from his, she turned to leave.

With one hand, David stopped her, for the other hand was raised in blessing – a blessing over Abigail.

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She did not recall mounting the donkey.   She did not recall the journey home, for her ears and her heart were full of David’s words:

“Blessed is your advice, your good sense.

Blessed are you for keeping me from murder, for looking out for my reputation.

I hear you.

I respect you.”

Not since coming to the House of Nabal had she heard such words, and they carried her into the house. They sustained her through the night as The Fool slept off his evening’s wine.

At first light, Abigail approached Nabal, eyes on the floor, reporting mechanically:  “You recall that David’s men were sent away from your presence yesterday . . .” 

Describing David’s promise of revenge and her own actions, Abigail was startled to hear choking sounds from Nabal’s throat, but she continued with her report until a thud and sounds of alarm from the servants caused her to her lift her eyes. 

There lay The Fool, on the floor.

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The ten days between his fall and his death passed quietly, and Abigail wondered how the demise of her own husband could affect her so slightly.  She had been aware of the shriveled condition of her heart, but marveled at the cool poise with which she had wrapped up the end of shearing season and notified Nabal’s near kinsmen.  They would be arriving soon to take over his property.

And what was to become of his widow?  The memory of David’s blessing fanned a small hope that perhaps one day she would find a place of love and respect, but she did not know how that could be.  She only knew that she must flee before The Fool’s family arrived and engulfed her as if she, too, were a possession.  Gathering a small packet of provisions, she made ready to depart. 

Hearing footsteps, she whirled, ready to bolt from the room, but instead she froze. 

Othniel stood in the doorway, announcing the servants of David:

“David has sent us to you – to ask you to become his wife.”

Rising, Abigail bowed, and her words to David’s men were also a prayer to Yahweh:

“I am your servant.”

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And such is the glory of unexpected love. 

Each of us in our turn has been married, in some way, to foolishness —
but then redeemed by an unexpected love so strong and so wild
that all we must do is rise and follow,
placing our hand in His
and trusting for a better future.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us . . .” (I John 3:1)

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Be sure to check out the context for this Old Testament love story!

Photo credit:  Tiago Muraro

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No Sanction for Domestic Abuse

Ruth A. Tucker is a story teller.

I have vivid and fond memories from my experience of reading her Dynamic Women of the Bible when it was released in 2014.  As she unfurled and then analyzed the story of each Biblical woman, tiny shards of her own story would poke through the narrative fabric:  an abusive husband, the humiliation of his ministry gaffes and trail of deceit, an unwanted but life-saving divorce.  All of this contributed to Ruth’s sensitivity in sharing the ancient tales, and I closed that book with an enriched understanding of God’s female protagonists — but there was a nagging curiosity, a sense that there was so much more story-behind-the- story that had contributed to Ruth A. Tucker’s strong voice and convictions about the importance of every woman’s story.

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife tells Ruth’s  frightening tale:  an intelligent, well-educated young woman marries a charming but deeply dysfunctional man who, almost from the very beginning of their marriage, uses the Bible’s teaching on marriage as a club with which to beat her (and all women) into submission.  Alongside this personal memoir, Ruth steps back to provide historical and theological perspectives that she has gained, and to ask startling questions about how and why she and other women in her position and with her resources would have hidden their husbands’ abuse beneath long sleeves — and lies.

Statistics show that more than 30% of “all women murdered in America are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands, or lovers,” and yet women continue to receive counsel that they should “submit” to their abusers — or hints that the abuse they are experiencing may be the result of their own lack of submission.

Careful research probes case studies as diverse as Catherine Dickens (wife of Charles) and Meredith Vieira (television personality).  Actual accounts of court cases and stories of battered wives reveal that present-day unhelpful thinking is built on a history of weakness in defending women from domestic abuse.  Even some of today’s most discerning leaders and thinkers are finally realizing that they have missed the boat.

Ephesians 5 provides a blueprint for family life that is frequently distorted by abusive males or controlling and fearful church leaders.  A careful reading will reveal the truth that:

  1. Patriarchy is not about power.
  2. Leadership does not involve domination.

Truly Biblical teaching will not silence a wife who cries for help, and it will not sanction inappropriate behavior by men who use Scripture as a cloak for their sin.  The issue that hangs like a barbed question mark over the entirety of Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife is whether a complementarian reading of Scripture actually leads to abuse of women, or whether the theological abuse and misinterpretation of legitimate Scriptural guidelines are merely a convenient cover for men who would abuse women within (or without) any faith context.  Having been on the receiving end of this misuse of Scripture, Ruth Tucker is understandably leery about “the ‘s’ word.”  My own experience of Ephesians 5:21 mutual submission within marriage from day one has formed my thinking about and reading of Scripture in a different direction, so while I may not agree with Ruth on every point, at the same time, I’ve never had to defend myself against an enraged, Scripture-spewing, out-of-control husband.

Balancing the Biblical scrapbook of family dysfunction, Ruth shares examples from Scripture of strong and decisive women and of men who, like the Apostle Paul, much-maligned “misogynist,” who actually praised his female co-workers for their faithfulness.

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife is a call to grapple with and to evaluate motives behind theological positions on the family, to provide support to women who are experiencing abuse, and to speak out publicly against domestic violence.  Upheld by a high view of the sovereignty of God, Ruth found hope, and her strong voice rings out with the tough questions that will spark conversation and challenge leadership to look squarely at the issue of the respect and safety of women.  I applaud Ruth for reliving the painful years in order to share in and hopefully to dispel the shame and humiliation of other women who are enduring the “often silent epidemic of domestic abuse” — and its aftermath.  Whatever conclusion one reaches about roles and relationships within the family, there is no Scriptural sanction for domestic abuse.

 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God . . .  21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:1,2,and 21)

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This book was provided by Zondervan through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

The Art of Being a Wife

“What’s that, Mum?” asked my son, pointing to a small plastic something-on-the- ground.

“That’s just a barrette,” I replied, off-handedly.

“What’s a barrette?” he asked — framing in one simple question the deeply entrenched boy-culture and the essence of the testosterone-laced air that I have breathed for the past two decades.  With this as background, I approach Barbara Rainey’s Letters to My Daughters with a degree of awe and irony, for I am in the process of solving the other half of the marital equation by raising sons who will also bring to their marriages a high view of the sovereignty of God and a determination to make things work.

Mystery is a major theme in the Bible’s treatment of marriage, and this mystery is tied in with the image of Christ and His bride, the church.  Barbara helps her readers to see through her written replies to questions from her daughters and daughter-in-law that marriage is NOT  a mystery to be solved, but, rather, a mystery to be lived — through great faith and a steady flow of grace and forgiveness, which “keeps the windows clean and clear.”

Drawing on metaphors from art, music, gardening, and even cooking, the Rainey family dialogues on a wide range of subjects including the pros and cons of egalitarianism vs. complementarianism; intimacy and lack of desire; respecting a husband who is not acting respectable; and the gritty process of living a hard-scrabble life beside another sinner.

  • Having logged forty years of marriage, mothered six children, and lived most of those years in the spotlight as a ministry wife, Barbara has earned the right to speak out against “fairy tale” theology in which God owes us a happy ending.  She has learned the hard way that it is possible to offer helpful input to one’s husband without becoming his mum.  Ending every disagreement in their marriage with a restatement of their promise to stay together has been glue that has held them in love, along with the truth that the wife is NOT her husband’s moral custodian.  Husbands are responsible for their own hearts before God – and we wives have plenty of our own junk to take care of, anyway.
  • Having endured through some wintry years in her married life, Barbara offers the encouragement that spring can come again.  Without syrup or sentimentality, and with sensitivity toward those who truly are in unhealthy (or even dangerous) relationships, Letters to My Daughters comes alongside young wives with encouragement to believe in their husbands, to exercise verbal self-restraint when tempted to criticize or bad-mouth, and to understand that as dark shadows anchor the objects in a painting, so our shadowed experiences of struggle, and sacrifice anchor us to the God who is solid and unchanging.  He does not send difficult circumstances to “see how much you can bear, but so that you can experience His sustaining strength holding you up.”

As I read this heartfelt exchange between a wise mum and her dear girls, I became even more thankful for the daughter-in-love who has become a precious part of our family.  As daughters of Eve, each of us needs a daily recommitment to trust the Choreographer as we move in harmony with our partner, to embrace the glorious differences between men and women as we follow God’s recipe for reflecting His image so that our marriages can become “a statement of wonder to the watching world — statements of the goodness, the power and the beauty of God.”

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This book was provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Divine Design

“As Christian women, we desire to honor God by living countercultural lives that reflect the beauty of Christ and His gospel to our world . . .”

These powerful words lifted from the True Woman Manifesto are a wake up call to women, an invitation to enter into a life based on truth, and to view womanhood as a glorious gift that puts the creativity and wisdom of God on display.

In True Woman 101:  Divine Design, Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth), share their own very unique stories of following God into ministry —  Mary as a wife and mother, Nancy as a single woman at the time of the book’s publication.  Certainly, marital status is no barrier to active and meaningful ministry.

While many in the church waste valuable time quibbling over what women should do or may do, the word of God is clear in its teaching that, although marred by the fall, the role of a godly woman is to exhibit wholehearted devotion to Christ, to display purity of heart and a quiet spirit in her use of the unique ministry gifts that God has granted.

When Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, he forever exalted the role of those who come alongside to assist. This is a powerful message for women who want their homes to be launching pads for the next generation of world-changers, for women who are called to meet the needs of others outside their family circle, and for women of all ages and of all giftings who desire to be intentional and purposeful in living a countercultural life that puts others first.

The words of Elisabeth Elliot are a magnificent mission statement:

“We are called to be women.  The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.  For I have accepted God’s idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be.”

True Woman 101 is an eight-week study that serves as an invitation to throw away the cookie cutters and delight in the differences between men and women as well as the differences among women of diverse temperaments, at various stages in life, and with different callings.  We live our lives before God “to the end that Christ may be exalted and the glory and redeeming love of God may be displayed throughout the whole earth.”

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This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

10 Words to Consider Before Becoming a Husband

In matters of relationship, a teaspoonful of doing is worth more than a bushel- basket full of knowing.

We’ve all read Dobson and Chapman and Eggerichs until we’ve become so accountable before God with all our knowledge that we are clearly without excuse.  So, while it’s become a tired cliché, it is no less true:  love is an action verb.  Darrin and Amie Patrick have given us a collection of ten more active verbs to get marriages moving in the right direction — more specifically, to get husbands (and future husbands) thinking about the skills that are needed in order to love a wife.

The Dude’s Guide to Marriage is bound to make the rounds here in the Morin compound — we have four beloved “dudes,” and one has already launched into marriage and a family. ** (You should be impressed that I have exercised restraint and not put a picture of the adorable grandboy here.) ** Marvin Olasky summarized the book well in his review for World Magazine:  “Despite the silly title, [it] isn’t a silly book.  The maxims it offers in 10 chapters with titles like ‘Listen,’ ‘Provide,’ ‘Serve,’ and ‘Pursue’ are sensible.”

Yes, sensible.  With a light touch and a big brother’s wisdom, Darrin Patrick shares active wisdom while Amie chimes in with womanly advice (her words are italicized in the book).  Their combined counsel is a call to the male of the species to get off the couch, to own some adult-level aspirations, and to stop living “beneath your masculinity.”

With tips as simple as “pick up after yourself” and as profound as “self worship gets boring,” The Dude’s Guide to Marriage has all the marks of a book that was written from the cauldron of everyday living.  Darrin and Amie were high school sweethearts and have parented four children in the midst of an urban church planting ministry.  They share honestly about the melting pot of their own marital conflicts.  Appendices A-D are an arm around the single guy, the guy who is spooked over counseling, the spiritual light-weight, and the four people who haven’t read Chapman’s book on the love languages.

It is not for nothing that Paul’s teaching on marriage in the book of Ephesians is quickly followed by teaching on spiritual warfare.  God’s design for marriage involves two sinners who enter into an agreement to deny their selfish tendencies for the good of a relationship that is intended, mysteriously, to portray the perfect unity between Christ and His bride.  But, as with all things pertaining to the Christian life, we live out these huge verities in little moments through tiny deaths to self, and we find that the ability to do what needs to be done comes at the moment that we admit our helplessness and reach out in faith to the One who designed marriage in the first place.

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This book was provided by Thomas Nelson through the BookLookBloggers program,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with these communities on a regular basis:   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and TruthStill Saturday, Weekend Whispers, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, Playdates with God,  A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace, Three-Word Wednesday, Word-filled Wednesdays, Faith ‘n Friends, Essential Things, 100 Happy Days, His Purpose in Me, After My Coffee, Thankful Thursday

A Love Like No Other

About twenty-six years ago, a handsome young man in a tux stood before me and recited loving words of commitment that began like this:

“Michele, joining my life with yours in the covenant of marriage . . .”

And so our love story began with strong promises about loving and listening, respecting and revering.  By God’s grace the covenant is still in effect, and after all these years, the more I learn about myself and my all-too-obvious weaknesses and failures, the more a love based on strong promises sounds really good to me.

God’s love is like that, too – based on strong promises that have been recorded in His Word, and as I read through the book of Hebrews, I’m reminded that God’s covenant with us, His people, is firmly based upon grace.  Rather than giving up on us in our stubborn disobedience, He perseveres in relationship with us and makes stunning promises:

  1. “I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.” (Hebrews 8:10)   This is a promise of internal change.  Since God’s commands were written on tablets of stone, any attempts to uphold the law in our own strength will only leave us crushed and without hope.  However, in Christ, the standard is written with love on the lining of our hearts, and the Holy Spirit directs us toward true righteousness.
  2. “I will forgive and remember their sins no more.”  (Hebrews 8:11, 12) On the basis of grace and mercy, God “forgives and forgets” our failures – not because of any deficiency in God’s memory, but because He chooses not to hold them against us any longer.  Given that experience of having been forgiven, it is possible for me to uphold my promise to “forgive and forget” in my relationship with my husband and to extend grace to my children when they are the repeat offenders, for certainly this is what I have experienced from the hand of our forgiving God.
  3. I also made a series of strong promises to my husband on the day that I wore satin and lace and was surrounded by the scent of gardenias.  Standing in the kitchen in my jeans and surrounded by the scent of garlic and St. Bernard, I may (occasionally) forget those promises “to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving, as God in Christ has forgiven me.”  However, reading Hebrews 8, I am reassured that God will never break His promises.  The strength of my covenant relationship with God is based upon His faithfulness – not my own.

Furthermore, the love of our covenant-keeping God which never fails has made possible a relationship like no other.  Throughout history and around the world, humanity seeks the divine.  In the search for meaning or significance, there is a struggle to somehow transcend the mortal “box” and to commune with the higher power.

By contrast, the truth of the Bible is that the God of the universe has already entered our “box,” becoming like us through the incarnation.  Then, rather than demanding our obedience through fear and threats of punishment, He has offered to write His law – not merely on our doorposts, or on our Sunday-morning smiles — but on our hearts.  We follow Him and live in obedience out of love and gratitude – not because we are looking for a way to heaven.

This is a love like no other.

Amy Carmichael said it well:

“Love of all loves, in Thee I know Love Divine.”

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God!”  (I John 3:1)

This post first appeared at Faith ‘n Friends.

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Photo credit

Thanks for joining us in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book.  These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday. We’d love to have you continue with us, and if  you’re interested, here’s last week’s blog post.

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will enjoy reading the work of some fine writers and thinkers

Marriage: A Spiritual Discipline?

How has Gary Thomas sold half a million copies of a book about marriage that does not promise readers a happier marriage?
No promise of six steps to more intimate pillow talk.
No descriptions of three tips for more zip.
The fact is that Sacred Marriage – The Revised Edition talks about the challenges and disappointments that come with married life, our ugly attitudes and our selfishness, and it asks this important question:

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Bucking centuries of church tradition, Gary Thomas puts forth the notion that, just as monks and nuns have used celibacy to grow their service, their obedience, and their pursuit of God, marriage can be a platform to spiritual growth — not an obstacle to be overcome.  I first encountered Gary Thomas’s writing in the late 90’s when Seeking the Face of God challenged me to become more intentional in the life of Thirsting for God (the book’s updated title).  The same depth of appreciation for the church fathers and the importance of spiritual formation is folded into the pages of Sacred Marriage.  The pursuit of God is the lens through which Gary views marriage, and, therefore, marriage becomes:

  • an analogy to teach us about God Himself;
  • a spiritual discipline to create space in which God can work;
  • a mirror of our desire for God — or of our own selfishness;
  • an opportunity to practice faithfulness and perseverance “for acquiring,” in the words of Francis de Sales, “the true and solid virtues.”

Gary dissects a number of marriages — chiefly his own — to demonstrate the truth of his assertion that marriage is the ideal context for growing in Christ-likeness.  In a multitude of ways, we need our pride assaulted and our eyes turned toward the advancement of God’s kingdom.  The natural tendency in marriage is just the opposite, but as a couple begins to seek purpose and meaning outside their marriage in a commission from God, the marriage is infused with deeper meaning.

Perhaps the most valuable (and certainly the most unique) content in Sacred Marriage is Gary’s blunt acknowledgement that this broken world is and always will be littered with marriages that are lop-sided and limping.  In the case of a Christian marriage, this provides an opportunity for both spouses to become “God-dependent rather than spouse-dependent,” an occasion to persevere, and a moment to have our flaws exposed and expunged.

Here’s another challenging theory that no one wants to hear:  “Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies un-repented sin.”  Sit with that one for a while and let it come to mind the next time you mutter a complaint against your spouse.

Is it possible for even a difficult marriage between two polar opposites to awaken our souls, to become a signpost pointing to God?  Yes.  The image of God’s presence resting between the two cherubim on either side of the Ark of the Covenant is a powerful visual reminder that “the presence of God comes to us as two beings are joined.”   What if, instead of seeking God mainly in solitude, believers began to consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:19,20:

“I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Even if a marriage has not previously been characterized by purposefully seeking God, Sacred Marriage builds a road for going forward on that basis, allowing God to enter into and sustain marital love and companionship.

Gary Thomas is challenging engaged, married and single people from all ages and stages to join an on-line community with the goal of exploring the connection between marriage and worship.  This invitation to pursue an honest conversation about the joys and frustrations of marriage comes with the hope that your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God.


This book was provided by Zondervan, through the BookLookBloggers Program, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link up with these communities on a regular basis:  Looking Up,   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith