The Meaning of Marriage

June 20, 2013

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Tim Keller founded and currently pastors Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. With his mission being to reach cynical New Yorkers, he often has to refine what culture espouses to be true, replacing it with the Biblical perspective.

When dealing with marriage, he is coming against the idols of self, image, and money. Look through these grids and the statements he and his wife, Kathy, make about marriage become radical and even more profound.

Here are a collection of what they offer in the book, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

On the purpose of marriage:
“It is for helping each other become our future glory selves. Putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches.”

On falling in love:
“Within this version of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating and say “I want to be apart of it. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking. Each person says, I see your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, and dependencies, but underneath them all I see growing the person God wants you to be. This is radically different than compatibility.”

“If you don’t see your mates flaws you are not even in the game.”

“Your spouse has got to be your best friend or you wont have a strong rich marriage which endures and that makes you both vastly better people.

On submission and roles in marriage:
Their discussion on submission within marriage does come from one stylist perspective, but is the most thoughtful and well-formed I have heard, constantly pointing back to Jesus.

“In Jesus we see all the authoritarianism of authority laid to rest and all the humility of submission glorified.”

On singlehood: For a congregation made up largely of singles, likely due in large part to a distorted view of marriage, Keller offers the following.

“Single people cannot live their lives well as singles without a balanced and informed view of marriage. If they do not have that, they will either over-desire or under-desire marriage, and either of those ways of thinking will distort their lives.”

“How different seeking marriage would be if we were to view marriage as a vehicle for spouses helping each other become their glorious future-selves through sacrificial service and spiritual friendship. What happens if we see the mission of marriage to teach us about our sins in unique and profound ways and to grow us out of them through providing someone who speaks the truth in love to us?”

Keller acknowledges marriage is difficult, and the failure of so many have contributed to the modern view of disdain and avoidance.

On the complexity of marriage:
“Marriage does not consist of just one form of human love, it is not merely romantic passion or friendship, or acts of duty and service. It is all these things and more. It is overwhelming. Where do we get the power to meet the seemingly impossible demands of marriage?”

A few pages later, he draws the answer to his own question.

“Christ’s love is the great foundation for building a marriage that sings.”

“The admonition to love one another starts and is most demonstrated in the marriage relationship.”

The Meaning of Marriage, takes a different approach than Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage. Yet, I would add both Keller’s book, as well as Driscoll’s to any list of recommended reading.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God