All posts by jeremy

Book Review of The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Review of The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

The Meaning of Marriage upholds the Biblical standard of marriage and offers practical advice that can help marriages function more Biblically. It also provides guidance and wisdom for singles, whether they are seeking marriage or not.

Book Details

Copyright 2011

Published by Riverhead Books

330 pages

8 chapters




Chapter One – The Secret of Marriage

Our culture is simultaneously overly romantic and overly pessimistic about marriage. Since marriage is a divine institution and it points to the relationship between Jesus and His church, neither pessimism nor romanticism are appropriate.

Chapter Two – The Power for Marriage

Power for marriage comes through the Holy Spirit enabling us to serve the other and find our value in what Christ has done for us. Spouses should seek to serve rather than use one another.

Chapter Three – The Essence of Marriage

The intentional commitment of the marriage covenant provides an environment where intimacy and romance can flourish.

Chapter Four – The Mission of Marriage

The purpose of marriage is to move us into closer conformity to Jesus. Our spouse should be actively helping to sanctify us. And we should welcome them to do that.

Chapter Five – Loving the Stranger

Married couples help one another become more like Jesus by using the powers of truth, love, and grace toward the other.

Chapter Six – Embracing the Other

Kathy Keller (Tim Keller’s wife) wrote this chapter. She sets forward a complementarian interpretation of gender roles. Husbands are to be servant-leaders and wives are to submit to their husbands.

Chapter Seven – Singleness and Marriage

Singleness is valuable. There is some history of dating and courtship and some suggestions for dating for the purpose of marriage.

Chapter Eight – Sex and Marriage

Sex is not dirty, or just an appetite, or solely for individual pleasure. It is “a foretaste of the joy that comes from being in complete union with God through Christ” (p260).



The Meaning of Marriage is targeted at married people and single adults (both those seeking and those not seeking marriage).

Big Ideas

Keller centers on the Biblical understanding of marriage as a picture of Jesus and the church. While it starts with a heavenly view of marriage, the emphasis tends to be on the interaction between husband and wife. It is very a very practical book.

Why It is Timely

Marriage is being devalued all around us. There are very few today who hold to a Biblical understanding of marriage who can also articulate it well. The Kellers incorporate both of these capabilities into the book. This book is timely because of the thoughts and attitudes around marriage in our world today and the lack of people able to address those thoughts and attitudes well.

What It Gets Right

It is dead on with what marriage represents – Jesus and the church. It lays out a complementarian understanding of gender roles. Their explanation of gender roles denies that men should be domineering and that women should be overly passive. The book gives a lot of beneficial insights of how husbands and wives can function together in a God-glorifying way.

What It Gets Wrong

One thing that I thought was odd was the chapter on singleness. That chapter spends little time on how good singleness is and more time on how to date. The (possibly) unintended consequence of that is to undo the words regarding how good singleness is.

There is an unfulfilling line of thinking in chapter 6 (starting on page 209) about the sometimes controversial topic of women working outside the home. Kathy gives some justification for women working outside of the home, but doesn’t deal with any of the standard scripture passages that are used on both sides of the argument. Regardless of where you stand on women working outside of the home, you probably won’t feel particularly challenged if you disagree with her or justified if you agree.


Even though the “What It Gets Wrong” section of this review is a lot longer than “What It Gets Right,” my complaints with the book are very minor. This is a solid book that will help married people enrich their marriages. There is a lot in it for singles, as well, especially those singles who are seeking marriage. John Piper’s This Momentary Marriage (my review here) resonated with me more than Keller’s book, but I don’t hesitate to commend Keller’s book to you, as well.

Book Review of This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

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)

Book Details

Copyright 2009

Published by Crossway

191 pages

15 chapters



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.

Big Ideas

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.

Why Do Our Lives Have Value?

Our lives matter. The lives of those around us matter. We all know this intuitively. But do we know why lives matter beyond that intuitive feeling? And do we understand just how valuable our lives really are? I think that most people don’t know. And I get the feeling that they don’t care, either. But knowing why your life is valuable will do you good. Here are five reasons that life is valuable.

First, we were created in God’s image. In the garden, God made Adam and Eve. The Bible says that God decided to “make man in [His] image, after [His] likeness.” (Gen 1:26) That statement, “in His image”, says so much about our abilities to create things, interact socially, reason, and govern ourselves. But the statement “in His image” also implies that our lives have inherent value. (If God Himself is inherently valuable, then when He created us, He created us similarly, therefore having value.) The value is so high that later in the book of Genesis, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Gen 9:6) God created man in His image and because of that, our lives have such value that if one of those lives are killed, God considers it a great offense.

It is amazing to think of being created in God’s image. But there is Someone who far surpasses us in their likeness to God. That Someone is Jesus. Jesus is God’s exact image, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Heb 1:3) He chose to live among us so that He could save us. (I’ve written about what “saved” means here.) That God would stoop low to come to earth on a rescue mission shows how valuable we are to Him.

Second, we were created with a purpose. I’ll quote a few verses and you can see a recurring thought in Scripture.

God said, “…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isa 43:6-7)

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col 1:16)

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. (Psa 57:2)

We all were created by God, for God, with a purpose. And that purpose is to bring Him glory. Bringing God glory means to show how valuable He is. Having that purpose stamped on our very being gives us inherent value.

The thought of having a purpose becomes even weightier when we consider something beyond a general “purpose,” or “calling.” We who know Jesus and are known by Him will be drastically changed. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1Co 15:53) This is where every life that knows Jesus is headed. And it isn’t just that we will be unable to die. We will be without sin, which is what brought about death in the first place. Our purpose, our destiny, is to one day be made like Jesus. Do you feel the weight that adds to our value?

Third, God does not rejoice in death. Here is a quote from Ezekiel:

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Eze 33:11)

We can hear the fervency in this verse. God does not take sadistic pleasure in even the wicked dying. He points out to Israel that there is an alternative to death. And He points out that the alternative (them living) is what He takes pleasure in. God’s lack of rejoicing in our dying and happiness in our living gives value to our lives.

It is good to point out that God is not reveling in the pain, suffering, and death of anyone. It is also good to point out that because of God’s attitude toward life, our lives have value. But we can go beyond that. One day, He will destroy death. “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1Co 15:25-26) He loves and values life so much that He will one day destroy death. Doesn’t this show the value that our lives hold even now?

Fourth, God is mindful of man. Out of the vast universe, out of everything that is, God is aware of and concerned about human kind. The thought is staggering. King David phrased this beautifully:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psa 8:3-5)

If there is a nearly unmeasurable universe to consume God’s thoughts and He is not only aware of us, but His attention is fixed on us, that should tell us something. It says that our lives are of value to Him. Out of all of creation, our lives are valuable and precious to Him.

But He isn’t just aware of us, or thinking about us. He is active in our lives. “[I]t is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Php 2:13) And this only happens in Christ. If God is working in us for His good pleasure, doesn’t that escalate how valuable our lives are?

Fifth, God is the giver of life. In the beginning, God breathed life into man. And He continues to give us breath for as long as we live. The fact that He originated and daily maintains life speaks to us that He valued and continues to value life.

We can all appreciate the gift of life. But there is an aspect of living that not everyone experiences. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1Jn 5:11) We may have not just life, but eternal life. Eternal life is not just life without end. It is life that will endure forever at such a quality that we can’t understand. If life one day will never cease and can be of incomprehensible glory, then life now has value.

Life matters. All lives matter. And they matter to a degree that we don’t consider well every day. Don’t waste your life. And don’t be content to see those around you waste theirs. Your ultimate purpose, everyone’s ultimate purpose, is to live the life that you have been given to the glory of God. Are you doing that?

What is Biblical Christianity?

I’ve been wanting to blog lately about various issues and how I approach them from a Christian world view. Before I do that, I thought it might be helpful to explain a few of the things that I (and other Biblical Christians) believe.

First, we believe the Bible.

You have probably heard Christians mentioning a verse here and there. And you may have inferred that we give a lot of weight to what it says. But it is more than that. The Bible is our ultimate authority. We believe that it speaks to every situation that we find ourselves in, either specifically or through principles. We believe that it is the word given to us from God.

You may think that we consider it something like a cosmic rule book, containing a bunch of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” It does have rules and laws, but it is much bigger than that. If I were to summarize the Bible in one sentence, it would be this: The Bible is the unified story that shows how God glorifies Himself by redeeming His fallen people. It is a wonderful story. And we believe that it is true.

Second, we believe that we are saved by grace through faith. That is a pretty full statement. Let me break it up.

We are saved. You may have heard us use that word before and wondered what we mean by it. Why do we need to be saved? What are we saved from? It is unpopular, but we believe that our sin has broken any chance we have of a relationship with God and has brought His wrath to us. Paul’s epistle to the Romans says this: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom 1:18)

What do we mean by sin? We mean any violation of God’s law. We have done things that have violated this law in one way or another: lying, lusting, coveting, stealing, being wrongly angry with people, etc.  And what do we mean by wrath? Wrath is God’s perfect hatred of sin that results in a never-ending punishment.

By grace. We believe that we can not possibly do enough good to earn ourselves into a right relationship with God and out of His wrath. Grace means that in God’s kindness and love, He made up His mind to save people, not because they are worthy, but because He is kind. None of us can fully understand such grace because we are accustomed to trading for things or making payments. But we believe that we can’t buy God’s approval of us with anything that we have or anything that we can do.

Through faith. We believe that our only confidence in escaping wrath and having a repaired relationship with God is what God Himself has done. And what has He done? We believe that Jesus, even though He never sinned, took the punishment that our sins deserved. We could not do what He did. We cannot work hard enough to become righteous. Our only confidence is in what Jesus has done for us, not in any thing that we could do for ourselves. And we lay hold of that by believing that it was enough.

Third, we proclaim truth. We believe that because we are His and because Jesus has saved us and because He has defined the ultimate standards of this world, we should speak negatively when we see wrongs being done. And we should speak positively when we see things being done in a way that is consistent with the Bible. Sometimes this comes across hypocritically. I understand that. But we feel compelled to speak, nevertheless.

Fourth, we love. Christians have not done as well with this as we should. Everything we say should be “seasoned with salt,” yet some Christians seem more interested in picking a fight and being right than being kind. When we are unloving, it is wrong. I won’t give us a pass on this. Sadly, we often fail.

But it doesn’t change the truth that God’s love is in us and it is working its way out of us. And even when we love incompletely and show it poorly, we are still trying to love.

You love, too. But your reason for loving isn’t because you have been loved with an eternal, all-powerful, redeeming love. Perhaps you love because it feels right. Or maybe it’s because you have a philosophical conviction that it is good. Or maybe you don’t even know why, but you love anyway. But we love because we believe that we have been loved first by the author of love and the redeemer of our lives. We love because He first loved us.

Fifth, we worship. Our hearts yearn for something that isn’t in this world. We seek (and find) ultimate satisfaction in God alone. Worshiping God in everything that we do and say is our reason for living. Obviously we don’t achieve this goal, but we strive for it nonetheless.

Sixth, we are inconsistent people. The previous three points really bear this out. We proclaim the truth inconsistently. We love inconsistently. We worship inconsistently. Everything that we do is imperfect. But that does more to confirm what I am writing than to disprove it. We believe that this world is broken by sin and will that way until God restores all things. That brokenness includes us. We are saved from the wrath of God and we are being made new, but we are not perfect yet. We strive for perfection, but we will never attain it – not in this life, anyway. Our hope is not in ourselves to save ourselves, but in God who saves us through the work of Jesus. And while we are inconsistent, He is not.

This is just a partial summary of what we believe. Volumes have been written over the years detailing all of these points – and many more. But I think this is a good foundation for what I hope to write in the future.