The Meaning of Marriage: Covenant, Glory, Friendship & Sex

In light of upcoming changes in my life, I’ve been reading more about dating, relationships, and marriage. Of the material I’ve read, one book stands above the rest. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy and Kathy Keller is honest, deep, and practical all at the same time.

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Books about marriage frequently draw practical tips and relational psychology into focus, but what’s often lacking is the substance of truth beneath it. The Meaning of Marriage provides a rich bedrock of foundational insights and biblical truths. Here are some of the outstanding concepts shared in the book. Buckle your seatbelt.

Highlights from The Meaning of Marriage

Covenant

“Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.”

“Why do we say that marriage is the most deeply covenantal relationship? It is because marriage has both strong horizontal and vertical aspects to it. … The covenant made between a husband and a wife is done “before God” and therefore with God as well as the spouse. To break faith with your spouse is to break faith with God at the same time.”

“God’s saving love in Christ is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.”

Holiness

“Within this Christian vision for 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 to say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that.'”

“What keeps the marriage going is your commitment to your spouse’s holiness.”

“Seek to serve one another rather than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness.”

“If two spouses each say, ‘I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,’ you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.”

“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? How different it would be if we were to fall in love especially with the glorious thing God is doing in our spouse’s life?”

“Both women and men get to ‘play the Jesus role’ in marriage – Jesus in his sacrificial authority, Jesus in his sacrificial submission. By accepting our genders roles, and operating within them, we are able to demonstrate to the world concepts that are so counter-intuitive as to be completely unintelligible unless they are lived out by men and women in Christian marriages.”

“…Let’s call this ‘cross-gender enrichment.’ In this way, male and female ‘complete’ each other and reflect the image of God together (Genesis 1:26-28).”

Friendship

“Put friendship development before romantic development.”

“Like a surgeon, friends cut you in order to heal you. Friends become wiser together through a healthy clash of viewpoints.”

“There are two features of real friendship – constancy and transparency.”

“The paradox is that friendship cannot be merely about itself. It must be about something else, something that both friends are committed to and passionate about besides one another.”

“Married Christians should look for ways to share their marriages with the singles and other married couples in their community.”

“So often today’s relationships careen from each person being blind to one another’s serious flaws to being angry, disillusioned, and blind to one another’s strengths.”

Sex

“Sex is for whole-life self-giving.”

“Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.’ You must not use sex to say anything less. So, according to the Bible, a covenant is necessary for sex. It creates a place of security for vulnerability and intimacy. But though a marriage covenant is necessary for sex, sex is also necessary for the maintenance of the covenant. It is your covenant renewal service.”

“…Every sex act is supposed to be a uniting act. Paul insists it is radically dissonant to give you body to someone to whom you will not also commit your whole life. C.S. Lewis likened sex without marriage to tasting food without swallowing and digesting. The analogy is apt.”

Headship

“It is never kind of loving to anyone to make it easy for him or her to do wrong.”

“Assuming the role of headship is only done for purposes of ministering to your wife and family.”

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What are the best insights you’ve heard on marriage?

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See more highlights from books I’ve read:

Plan B and Facing  Unexpected Changes in Life
Augustine’s Confessions
Thy Kingdom Connected
Life Kerning and Creating Space 

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2 responses to “The Meaning of Marriage: Covenant, Glory, Friendship & Sex

  1. Love watching you fall in love with the idea of… well, being in love – and what love truly means when put into a biblical context. It’s truly an exciting thing to be engaged and heading toward that ultimate covenant, and through that scary process learning what God truly intended for us.

    Who woulda thought Weirick would settle down? Loving and praying for you, brother.

    • Thanks for your words, Bradley. I’m excited for you and Kate as well.
      If you haven’t yet, dive into this book with her as you both start the journey together. Such a rich resource for a rich relationship. Congrats!

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