I pray that we will all recognize the deepest and highest meaning of marriage – not sexual intimacy, as good as that is, not friendship, or mutual helpfulness, or childbearing, or child-rearing, but the flesh-and-blood display in the world of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church.
This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper was an amazing book. I haven’t read scores of marriage books, but this one is one of the best of the few that I have read. I really enjoyed Piper’s frank approach to several important but sometimes difficult issues in marriage.
I think that sometimes I want to read marriage books that will allow me to think that marriage is about the two of us, and making us happy, and how to make life the fairy tale we wish it were. This book was not that at all, and it was actually a breath of fresh air. It was so encouraging to read because it was constantly reminding me of the true purpose of marriage and why we marry in the first place. Marrying Jeremy was something that I was so excited about, and that has been so good for the last three years, but when you really get down to it, we married because God put us together and because God wanted us to create a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church.
That relationship between Jesus and the church is not always beautiful. The church turns away, she does things to disappoint her Savior, she fails over and over again, but that never severs the tie between the two. Jesus put Himself out there to redeem the church and to keep her. He has given her a covenant that He will not leave her, and that is a promise that we can count on. In the same way, the relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of this. Regardless of how hard a marriage may be, how painful, disappointing, or unfulfilling it may be, it is not about us at all. Christ does not forsake us when we mess up, when we disappoint Him.
Piper uses this foundation to build his philosophies on other aspects of marriage. He reminds us at the end that we must have the primary things – our underlying philosophy of marriage – down before we can worry about the secondary things. Taking care of the primary leads to taking care of the secondary – not the other way around. So, of primary importance then, is that we understand that marriage is something that God does, and it is something that is for God’s glory. After that we can start to consider how those truths affect money and families and service and careers, but not before.
In this book, Piper addresses biblically several key and heavy issues in marriage. He talks through biblical sex, singleness, hospitality, having and raising children, and divorce and remarriage. The thing I love about this book is that Piper always uses the Bible, and he explains things simply and clearly. He doesn’t fudge or walk around difficult issues, he simply addresses the problems that we face with biblical answers.
I would highly recommend this book for any couple, or a single man or woman as well. Again, I felt like it was a breath of fresh air. It let me take away the responsibility I sometimes feel for making our relationship perfect. That’s not what we are called to, we are called to faithfulness and accurately displaying Christ’s covenant relationship with the church. These are very important issues, especially in today’s Christian marriage sphere. These issues need to be talked about and addressed, and I feel like this book provides a very good foundation for a Biblical philosophy of marriage.