For those that know my wife and I, you know that we love to read. We read a variety of books dealing with theology, history, marriage, family, fiction, and biblical counseling. We are often asked for good resources to read from our friends and loved ones. We will periodically post book reviews that we believe will be helpful for you as you seek to study and grow more through reading. With that said, here is a book review on a book that I (Josh) have recently read on the issue of marriage.
Marriage is viewed as a “social construct” that must be fought against and is often renounced all together in today’s society. Our culture has watered down the idea of marriage and it has caused catastrophic results. Chip Ingram, in his book Marriage that Works, argues, “What we do need in this day of sexual confusion, pop psychology, and addiction to narcissistic personal fulfillment is some very clear biblical truth from the Author of marriage-the One who created and designed it. And we need practical application of that truth (p.11).”
Ingram, pastor and CEO of Living on the Edge argues that in order for us to have a biblically centered marriage, Christians must “learn God’s design for the marriage relationship and be committed to following it (p.11).”
Marriage that Works is a book that seeks to get back to the biblical root of marriage. The book covers a wide variety of topics such as: manhood, womanhood, mutual submission, God’s blueprint for marriage, and gender roles in the relationship. It should be noted, that this book is for Christians. The reason I make that statement is that it will be impossible for one to be faithful and obedient to the call/design that Christ gives to men and women without them first being followers of Jesus Christ. We can have godly marriages Christians, because we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God that is sanctifying us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Ingram states, “Everyone has troubles; that’s juts part of marriage. What you do with them makes the difference (p.14).” He adds, “Marriage isn’t easy to maintain, but neither is anything else that is valuable or worthwhile (p.15).” Ingram makes the argument that “mutual submission is the only way a marriage can work (p.16).” Too often, Christian men and women believe that the man is to lead, while the wife is simply called to submit. Although these are the roles that the Apostle Paul spells out in Ephesians 5, we often run to these roles while neglecting the first aspect: mutual submission. Both men and women are called to submit to one another in their marriage relationship.
Ingram states, “The closer you grow to God, the closer you and your spouse grow to each other (p.24).” This is the key to mutual submission in the marriage. As the husband and wife continuously submit to the headship of Jesus Christ and live under His authority, they will begin to live and love one another they way that Christ commands. He adds, “The greatest thing you can ever do for your marriage is to live as a committed, passionate follower of Jesus (p.25).”
Men, if we wish to be the leaders of the home that Christ calls us to be, we must become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This takes time and work. Women, if you wish to be obedient in submitting to the leadership of your husband, you too, must be committed to live in conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.
In this book, Ingram does a great job of outlining the blueprint of a biblical marriage. He traces the institution back to its core as we see in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2). Ingram does a great job outlining the evolution of men and women through the cultural norms we obtain from entertainment. We have seen a decrease of biblical manhood and womanhood in recent years and it has had drastic affects on our marriage and families.
This book is convicting, yet encouraging. It has great discussion questions placed at the end of every chapter that serve as instruments to help the reader examine themselves. Ingram calls men to “step up” to provide (Ch. 7), protect (Ch.8), and nurture (Ch. 9) their families. He also calls women to nurture (Ch. 11), protect (Ch. 12), and provide (Ch. 13) their families, while grounding his principles in Scripture.
This book was a great encouragement for me as I seek to be obedient to the call that God has placed on my life as the spiritual leader of my household. It was convicting as well, in the sense that it challenged my views on the way I seek to apply what I feel the Lord calling me to do. If you have grown up in a home where there was not a biblical example of marriage, this book will help you as you seek to change that in your own homes. If you have been blessed to grow up in a home where a biblical model of marriage and family was shown, this book is also an encouragement to continue that trend as you seek to live out God’s call on your lives.
Although I do not agree with all of the available resources that Ingram provides in this book for helps, I do believe that this book can be instrumental in bringing our marriages and families back to their core as God intended. If you are married, buy this book. If you are engaged, buy this book. If you are single, buy this book, as it will serve to be a great instrument for you as you prepare to be the husband or wife that God may call you to be one day.
Ingram ends his book by saying, “You will probably never feel as if you have arrived, but that’s okay. You may never feel as if you started early enough, but that’s okay too. It’s always a process, and God will bless any effort you make to move toward the destination. He will meet you at any point along the way and guide you with loving encouragement, correction, and strength. You can do this not because you are highly capable or smarter than the average person but because he says you can. Bring your willing heart to him, receive the guidance and power he gives you, and I am confident you will experience the satisfaction and fulfillment he designed you to enjoy (pp. 239-240).”
You can purchase the book here.
Soli Deo Gloria