When I first read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller, three thoughts occurred to me:
- Where was this book when I got married?
- I’ve never read something about marriage that might be even more helpful to singles.
- Someone needs to turn this book into curriculum for group study, especially in premarital counseling.
So I’m delighted to say that Zondervan has recently released a six-session DVD and group study guide for The Meaning of Marriage. Anyone who’s spent time with Tim and Kathy knows how insightful and funny they can be together, so those interactions themselves are worth picking up the DVD.
But in keeping with the Kellers’ ministry in New York City, this study offers something I never considered when I first read their book: group discussion that includes non-believers. As Kathy has previously discussed when writing for The Gospel Coalition, marriage between men and women who don’t share religious beliefs has become increasingly common, even in evangelical churches. No issue has been so frequently challenging in my own personal ministry, as I seek to counsel and lead such couples. This study, then, can help you talk with these families about what difference Jesus makes in relationships. As the Kellers write in The Meaning of Marriage:
According to the Bible, God devised marriage to reflect his saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole-life union.
Earlier this month a couple from my church asked me to conduct their wedding ceremony next summer. I’ve known this couple since they first met last year; the bride-to-be was baptized as a believer several years ago while she was a member of the home group my wife and I led. They asked me to conduct the ceremony because I understand their situation; neither one of them grew up in a believing, churchgoing home. I’m delighted, then, to commend this study for their premarital counseling in the absence of a family model for gospel-centered marriage. And as I prepare for next summer, I’m eager to examine it more closely myself for additional counsel on how to testify to God’s grace on display in marriage.
Marriage is anything but easy when sinners get involved. Since we’re all sinners, we need help: whether we long to get married, plan to get married, or married a non-believer. Even if you and your spouse have been married a long time and share common faith in Jesus Christ, you still need help as you work out the one-flesh mystery of marriage. I don’t know any other single resource that addresses all of these scenarios. As you seek to display for the world Christ’s love for his church (Eph. 5:22–33), put this new group study to work in your family and church.