JUST FINISHED TIM KELLER’S new book, The Meaning of Marriage, “Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.”
Having enjoyed Keller’s previous books I opened this volume expectantly. The first chapter covered the state of marriage in the Western world, and was helpful. Keller described and analyzed the “Me-Marriage” syndrome and its damaging impact on people’s willingness to marry. He suggested the gospel as the solution.
Another plus was Keller’s emphasis on the need to build marriage around friendship. Following up on this idea was a chapter on singleness with unusually
helpful tips on what to look for in a mate.
However, the book fell short in a couple of key areas. I had no problems with anything that Keller said. It was all useful and helpful. It was what he didn’t emphasized that bothered me. In my view he did not place enough emphasis on Ephesians 5:22-34.
The New Testament only has two passages on marriage––Ephesians five and 1 Peter 3. Ephesians five is the most important. Keller emphasized companionship as the purpose of marriage. But Ephesians five is very clear. The purpose of marriage is to glorify the relationship between Christ and his church through the love of the husband and the submission/respect of his wife. Although Keller mentioned this in the first chapter, he did not emphasize it.
This book also contained an excellent chapter on wifely submission. In light of our contemporary climate, I appreciated the courage required to discuss this. However, a disturbing weakness was a lack of corresponding emphasis on Eph. 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Although Keller briefly mentions it in chapter one, he does not camp out on this crucial subject or emphasize it. I found this tragic. The husband’s love is the engine that powers the Christian marriage. I would have liked one or two chapters applying this to daily experience. For me this was a gaping omission.
For someone looking for great pointers on how to overcome selfishness, etc. I recommend this book. But for someone eager to dig deeply into the theological mystery of marriage, there are better books on the market.