Review of This Momentary Marriage by John Piper
This Momentary Marriage gives a cosmic, eternal perspective on marriage. It brings our thoughts of marriage out of the mundane and into what God intends us to see it as. It is a picture of the covenant keeping relationship between Jesus and His church. This view empowers us to live well in our marriages.
A quote from the first chapter sets the stage for what to expect in the rest of the book:
I pray that this book might be used by God to help set you free from small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage. (p21)
Published by Crossway
Each chapter begins with a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a passage of scripture.
Foreword (by Noël Piper)
Chapter 1 – Staying Married Is Not Mainly About Staying in Love
Because marriage is from God, about God, and for God’s glory, staying married is a display of Christ’s covenant love for His church.
Chapter 2 – Naked and Not Ashamed
Husbands and wives can be free from shame from one another because of the nature of covenant love. The fall has broken this freedom, but redemption points to its restoration.
Chapter 3 – God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace
Since marriage points to the grace that Jesus has poured out on His people, each marriage should display grace as husbands and wives graciously forebear with and forgive one another.
Chapter 4 – Forgiving and Forbearing
The foundation and source of our ability to forgive one another is Christ’s work for us. Husbands and wives should constantly remind themselves of this and strive to forgive one another.
Chapter 5 – Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant
Husbands and wives are brought into greater conformity with Jesus by the love, gracious forgiveness and forbearance, kindness, and words spoken to one another.
Chapter 6 – Lionhearted and Lamblike – The Christian Husband as Head: Foundations of Headship
The husband’s role is to be a servant leader to his wife.
Chapter 7 – Lionhearted and Lamblike – The Christian Husband as Head: What Does It Mean to Lead?
Husbands perform their role of servant leadership by providing for and protecting their wives and families spiritually and physically.
Chapter 8 – The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission
Wives submit to their husbands by following his leadership and facilitating that leadership by using their own gifts.
Chapter 9 – Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters
Singleness is not inferior to being married. There are unique blessings to being single. And Jesus is greater than singleness or marriage.
Chapter 10 – Singleness, Marriage, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality
Jesus is a greater treasure than singleness or marriage. Because married and single believers share the same great treasure, they have a unity with one another and should share their lives through hospitality.
Chapter 11 – Faith and Sex in Marriage
Sexual intimacy within marriage is a beautiful gift to us that points to something greater. When pursued in faith, it can defeat past guilt and future temptation.
Chapter 12 – Marriage is Meant for Making Children…Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute Is the Duty to Procreate?
While making babies is a glorious gift, we should be more concerned with making disciples. Also, a home where husband and wife are modeling the covenant-keeping relationship of marriage is the ideal place to bring up children.
Chapter 13 – Marriage is Mean for Making Children…Disciples of Jesus: The Conquest of Anger in Father and Child
Fathers have a particular responsibility to not unnecessarily stir up anger in the hearts of their children.
Chapter 14 – What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Radical New Obedience
Divorce is wrong primarily because marriage represents the unbreakable covenant relationship between Jesus and His church. Piper recommends against all remarriage while the divorced spouse is still living.
Chapter 15 – What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Divorced
This chapter primarily addresses issues around remarriage.
I would recommend this book to three groups of adults. The book deals with sexual topics, so it probably isn’t the best for children.
The first group is those who are already married. This book can either teach or remind you what your marriage really is.
The second group is those who are single, but actively desiring to be married. It would benefit you greatly to get the truth into your heart that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His church. Most of this book seems most relevant to these first two groups, so they may get the most benefit from it.
The third group is those who are single and not interested in marriage. If you are content in your singleness and you believe that this is where God wants you to stay, that is wonderful. There are a couple of chapters that speak specifically to you for your encouragement.
The biggest ideas in this book revolve around the meaning of marriage. Marriage is a picture of the covenant relationship between Jesus and His church. This book seeks to exalt marriage to the place that God intended for it to have. With the limitation of language and the limitation of our minds to understand, we will never have as high of a view of marriage as God does. But Piper did an admirable job of pointing us to such a vision of marriage.
Why It is Timely
Our culture has a horrible understanding of marriage. Divorce rates and out-of-wedlock births are staggering. But those staggering numbers are just a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is that people have a weak view of what marriage is. This book is timely because of the widespread small view of marriage. Piper gives us a much needed cosmic view of the beauty of what marriage represents. If we can get that truth deep inside of us, it will help us not only just stick together, but seek to make marriage reflect God’s glory by letting it be what God intended it to be.
What It Gets Right
I can’t emphasize enough how right Piper is on the meaning of marriage. But he is also right on how marriage sanctifies us. And on gender roles. And having an emphasis on making disciples and not just babies.
What It Gets Wrong
There is nothing in this book that I think is just wrong. I’m not sure I totally agree with his thoughts on remarriage. I haven’t thought it through as much as he obviously has, so I don’t have any scripture passages to contradict him. But this is an area that I don’t completely agree, but I don’t have strong reasons to disagree.
This is a great book that I recommend without reservation. I think it would benefit me to pick it up from time to time to remind myself of what this thing called marriage is really about.