Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

This was a challenging, yet inspirational book that I think all married couples should read sometime after the honeymoon period. Many of us seem to go into marriage thinking that it will be different for us than it is for other people. We keenly observe the downfalls in the marriages of others before we say, "I do." Once we the vows have been pledged and the bills are due we start viewing the marriages of others as perfect or close to it and our own as lacking. Look around your church some Sunday morning and count the smiling faces - it seems as if they don't have a care in the world. Then look inside your own heart and see the turmoil that you disguise with your mask much like the masks of those around you. I'm not saying we are all a bunch of frauds, but at times it is easier to paste on the smile than it is to share your heart. If only we had people willing to be authentic... But being authentic is risky and you could get hurt.

In his book, Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More than to Make Us Happy?, Gary challenges the reader to consider that marriage is a tool to bring us closer to God and to transform our character to be like Jesus.

Some powerful quotes from the book:

Once we enter the marriage relationship we cannot love God without loving our spouses as well. (page 42)

Marriage is a spotlight showing us that our search for another human being to “complete” us is misguided. When disillusionment breaks through, we have one of two choices: Dump our spouse and become infatuated with somebody new, or seek to understand the message behind the disillusionment – that we should seek our significance, meaning, and purpose in our Creator rather than in another human being.”
(page 83)

What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and to grow in godliness. (page 93)

I wouldn’t be surprised if many marriages end in divorce largely because one or both partners are running from their own revealed weaknesses as much as they are running from something they can’t tolerate in their spouse. (page 97)

If mountain climbing were easy, it would lose a great deal of its appeal. Our relationships can be looked at the same way. Instead of immediately thinking about how we can take a helicopter to the top, we might take a climber’s approach and think, This is really tough. This is a challenge, no doubt about it. How do I keep loving this person in the face of this challenge? (page 131)

I reach out to people because God has loved me and has asked me to love others in return, not because the people I am loving are “worthy” of love or because they’ll thank me for it in the end. It’s not for me to make judgments about their “worthiness.” I don’t know how I could do that anyway. It’s for me to love God by loving others. (page 188)

I could go on and on listing meaningful quotes from this book, but instead if you are married I urge you to get a copy for yourself and read through it with your spouse or another couple and work to make the applications that are shared throughout the book become reality in your marriage. If your marriage is already all God desires it to be, consider mentoring young or struggling couples and work through this book with them. Gary Thomas provides
discussion questions at his website. This is an incredible book with an even more incredible message - we can make it though whatever life brings us (marriage or singleness) and become the man or woman that God dreams for us to be if we apply the principles set forth in this book and in the Word of God.

For more information on books, conferences and more check out
Gary's website.

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