If your marriage was a shape, what shape would it be?
Maybe you're in the stage of littles, or in the midst of a transition, and your relational points of connection are like a star, close one minute and far apart the next. Perhaps you feel like it's a circle, the issues you're working through seem to go around and around...and around. Or you find yourselves in a season of unified growing together like reaching the tip of a triangle.
Wherever you find your marriage lately, the good news of the gospel impacts what we believe about marriage and how we live within it. In, Gospel Shaped Marriage: Grace for Sinners to Love Like Saints by Chad & Emily Van Dixhoorn they teach us how this special relationship is shaped by scripture to help us love our spouse.
The first two chapters give us a biblical foundation for God's intended purposes for marriage and the realities of living in a fallen world. We are sinners and ought to expect sin in our marriages. The authors write, "on the one hand, our relational problems are a universal consequence of the fall, married or not. On the other hand, God promises to use the troubles of Christians to make us more like Christ every time that we turn to him."
This gives us hope in our struggles because God's redemptive purposes for our relationships are for his glory and for our good, pointing us to the last marriage between Christ and His bride-the church. "Marriage is eternal in its significance, not because it lasts for eternity, but because it can be used to equip us for eternity."
Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 reflect on grace and submission in marriage, which can be a prickly - but truly significant - topic in our relationships, affecting both our spouse and our relationship within the church. There's a chapter that addresses wives and another addressing husbands, their approach is gracious as they share truth. In the sixth chapter there's practical advice for both spouses on how to navigate times when things gets worse and arguments prevail.
The authors address the role of parenthood in chapter 7, both as spouses relate to their parents and as we take on raising our own children; to imitate Christ, so that as our children imitate us they too are emulating Him.
Chapter 8 takes on the topic of sexual intimacy, which they tell us is "intended to strengthen and maintain the bond of marriage," as we share ourselves and enjoy each other.
Lastly, the authors talk about how we can leverage our marriages for service to Christ, helping us focus not only on ourselves, but also on others. This challenges us to continue growing spiritually, because the issues of foolishness, shame and sin can easily start to creep in.
Marriages that mirror the gospel is a beautiful goal, because the gospel is truly beautiful. We are lavished in grace and forgiveness as the redeemed children of God and those united to another sinner in the covenant of marriage will be supplied ample opportunity to grow in belief and practicing these characteristics.
There's a collection of discussion questions at the end of the book for each chapter which are helpful for reflection or for small group discussion. If you're looking for a marriage resource with a strong biblical foundation this would be a great one to add to your library!
# of pages: 160
Level of Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
My Rating: 4 stars
*A big thanks to Crossway for the complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to post an honest review!