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The Meaning of MarriageWith a title like The Meaning of Marriage, this book promises a lot.  And it doesn’t disappoint.

An indepth study of marriage and how it refines and grows us, this book by Timothy Keller and his wife Kathy is neither a relational self-help manual nor a feel-good book.  It sets truth and fact squarely against the more traditional ideas and beliefs about romance, soul mates, and the gift of singleness.

With frequent quotes from C.S. Lewis, this book almost feels like a modern version of The Four Loves.  Using words like “penultimate”, Keller not only set me thinking but sent me to the dictionary!

This high view of marriage tells us that marriage, therefore, is penultimate…  Even the best marriage cannot by itself fill the void in our souls left by God… If singles Christians don’t develop a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Jesus, they will put too much pressure on their dream of marriage, and that…same idolatry of marriage that is distorting their single lives will eventually distort their marriage lives if they find a partner.  So there’s no reason to wait.  Demote marriage and family in your heart, put God first, and begin to enjoy the goodness of single life. (The Meaning of Marriage, page 198)

The Meaning of Marriage was incredibly convicting for me as a married woman.  But I couldn’t help but thinking that it would be equally encouraging and helpful for my single friends.  Now I understand why the radio host whom I first heard mention it said that he bought a copy to give to each of his children.  It’s that good.  It’s the kind of book that challenges you in your thinking about marriage, whether or not you’re married.  And it’s the kind of book that has the depth to inspire future generations.

If you’re single, have you found books on the theology and purpose of marriage to be helpful reading?  If you’re married, what are your favorite titles on marriage?

in the case of good books... [graphic by Chantel Brankshire]


  1. Hi there! I stumbled upon your blog and being that I am newly married, clicked on the “marriage” tab. It’s really funny because I am staring at the book “The Meaning of Marriage” sitting on my dining room table but have yet to pick it up and read it. I feel encouraged & excited to finally get to it now after reading your post. How long have you been married? I’m 5 months in now and have grown so much through the challenges marriage brings out. It is a delight though! I’m excited to read more of your marriage posts. 🙂


    Nicole Cascio

  2. After reading tons of books on relationships, courtship, a single woman’s role in family life, and church, after hearing people both extol and decimate the ideas I’d grown up with, I wanted to know what God really said. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about people’s personal experiences or the historical facts, but that I wanted to know what the Bible said. I wanted my mind to be at rest. I conducted my own overview of the Bible accounts of marriage and read Andreas Kostenberger’s book, God, Marriage, and Family, which was a great help for me. If the goal is to live life as God wants us to live, then the theological foundation is where we must start. A theological foundation is not a formula for behavior but a base from which everything else grows. The theology of marriage is exactly what we single women need to know to have an accurate view of marriage and singleness and order our lives harmoniously with God’s Word.

  3. As a single Christian woman, I used to question why I had such a deep, overpowering desire for marriage. The Lord brought some wonderful books into my life during that time and they really helped me understand my feelings and they taught me how to deal with them in a positive way. These books included “Captivating” and “Your Captivating Heart” by authors Jim and Stasi Eldridge, “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy, and “Lady in Waiting”. I would highly recommend these books to those who are struggling with being single. I know it can be a lonely battle, but God knows what is best for us and I am here to testify that He will help you every step of the way.

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