It is my firmly held belief that each spouse in every marriage ought to perpetually have on his or her nightstand a good book on the topic of marriage.
This is not to say, exactly, that John and I are both devouring a new marriage book every day, nor that my primary reading is necessarily books on marriage, but every few months we remind each other how much better our already strong union seems to become when each day we’re both reading a chapter or even just a few pages of a good, solid, scripture-filled discussion on the topic of the most important earthly relationship we’ll ever have.
It would stand to reason, then, that I’ve worked my way through a good number of such books and developed an affinity for certain re-readables. Give me a solid foundation! Give me strong basics! Give me practicality! Drown me in the applicable and correctly used words of the Author of marriage! Please don’t give me watered-down talks of feelings and sparks and how to make everyone happy and comfortable–be assured I can think up all of that on my own, which is precisely why I need a good marriage book! After breezing through a particularly weak specimen, I find myself having to pull one of these favorites from the shelf to redeem the one I’ve just finished.
My current pick? Lasting Love: How To Avoid Marital Failure written by Alistair Begg.
Having listened to Alistair Begg on the radio off and on since girlhood, I knew I had acquired a gem when I found this in a very large stack of books recently given to me, a fact certainly true. But one of the things I’m most excited about in this particular book isn’t even the excellent marital teaching.
It’s the third chapter. On singleness, to be exact. Soon my 18 year old brother going off to his Bible institute, my as-of-yet-unmarried bestest girlfriend and my “little sister” in Alabama will all be taking a good thorough trip through this chapter… even if they don’t exactly, you know, know it yet.
We’ve all known a number of young women (and young men) who are rushing into marriage as soon as possible with other people who haven’t necessarily grasped the concept of wholly living for the Lord individually, simply because they think marriage to be the ultimate goal. In doing so, they’ve equated being focused on the Lord with being focused on marriage, not realizing that the two are both inclusive as well as exclusive–a marriage can never be complete without being founded on Christ, but a relationship with Christ and life of complete service to Him SHOULD be complete without a marriage.
The beginning of Lasting Love’s second chapter emphasizes this:
When we think about relationships, we should be very clear that our relationship to God must come first. We may well have to pause immediately and ask ourselves just where we stand when it comes to this aspect of our lives. Have we entered through the narrow gate, taken up our cross, and begun to follow Jesus? Or are we simply being kept afloat by the faith of our family? Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and endeavoring to do the right thing, or are we just living to please ourselves? Until we settle this matter, we are unprepared to make the right decision about other relationships.
Marriage is not an “end all” goal and, while certainly a high and holy state established by God, cannot be viewed as the beginning of our real life.
We must also recognize that our significance and fulfillment in life is not to be determined by whether or not we have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. You will know of sad stories involving friends who rushed into relationships driven by fear of what others would say about them if they were not “dating” or “involved.” Settle the matter right now. There is no good thing which the Lord will withhold from those whose walk is blameless. There is no need for panic. It is He who makes everything beautiful in His time.
The chapter moves forward, simply overflowing with golden nuggets of biblical wisdom on the topic of getting married. Begg outlines the qualities and characteristics important to find in a potential spouse–even suggesting it right and good to put oneself in places where such a (godly) person might be found!
I’m drinking up the following chapters on marriage itself, but I’ve been particularly thrilled to find this excellent bit on purposeful singlehood. It’s not often, in my experience, that we find a solid, balanced view of the topic.
This last quote sums up much of my own (and, might I say, the rest of the YLCF Team’s) thoughts and goals for all of us, married or single.
Wisdom comes from God (James 1:5). Don’t leave a decision about whether or not to get married to instinct and logic. Be sure to see what God has to say about the matter. He may want to use you as a single person. . . or He may want to use you as a married person. Regardless of your marital state, you can be sure He wants to lead you through life and achieve all the potential with which He has gifted you.
Read your own copy of Lasting Love: How To Avoid Marital Failure. Married or single, you won’t regret it.
And tell us, what are you favorite books on marriage and/or singleness?