Thursday, May 13, 2010
This Momentary Marriage
I just finished reading John Piper's book This Momentary Marriage. This is probably the best book about marriage I've ever read. The basic premise is that marriage is "the display of the covenant-keeping love between Jesus and his people."
There are 15 chapters:
1. Staying Married Is Not Mainly about Staying in Love
2. Naked and Not Ashamed
3. God's Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace
4. Forgiving and Forbearing
5. Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant
6. Lionhearted and Lamblike--The Christian Husband as Head: Foundations of Headship
7. Lionhearted and Lamblike--The Christian Husband as Head: What Does It Mean to Lead?
8. The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission
9. Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters
10. Singleness, Marriage, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality
11. Faith and Sex in Marriage
12. Marriage Is Meant for Making Children...Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute Is the Duty to Procreate?
13. Marriage Is Meant for Making Children...Disciples of Jesus: The Conquest of Anger in Father and Child
14. What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Radical New Obedience
15. What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Divorced
The main points from chapter one:
1. Marriage is God's doing.
2. Marriage is for God's glory.
From page 25, Staying married...is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. "Till death do us part" or "As long as we both shall live" is a sacred covenant promise--the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God's eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part, but Christ keeps his covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the ultimate thing we can say about it. It puts the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display.
Here's an excerpt from chapter three that was convicting to me. Page 46:
Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
"As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" your spouse. As the Lord "bears with" you, so you should bear with your spouse. The Lord "bears with" us every day as we fall short of his will. Indeed, the distance between what Christ expects of us and what we achieve is infinitely greater than the distance between what we expect of our spouse and what he or she achieves. Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Bear with as he bears with you. This holds true whether you are married to a believer or an unbeliever. Let the measure of God's grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.
In the last chapter Piper deals with four questions regarding divorce and remarriage. I have to say that he deals with the issue with grace.
1. Does death end a marriage in such a way that it is legitimate for a spouse to remarry?
2. If a divorced person has already married again, should he or she leave the later marriage?
3. If an unbelieving spouse insists on leaving a believing spouse, what should the believing spouse do?
4. Are there no exceptions to the prohibitions of remarriage while the spouse is living?
I've just given a tiny taste of the book. I highly recommend it to anyone, single, married, divorced, remarried. Clicking on the link above will take you to the Desiring God website.