Tim Chester is a church planter and writer in England. I appreciated the way he elevated Christ, His church, and how he applies the gospel in every facet of married life. The chapters designed for couples and small groups are concise, biblically and theologically based, Christo-centric, thorough, practical, and tailor made to promote discussion and application.
Some of the features of this book that are highlighted in each chapter are the following sections:
Consider this – “A scenario—often based on a real-life—situation which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in marriage.”
Biblical background – “A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.”
Read all about it – “A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.”
Questions for reflection – “Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.”
Ideas for action – “Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.”
What I have done below to give you a taste of the book is to give the principle elaborated on in each chapter and the key Scriptures covered in each chapter.
Part One: Gospel-Centered Marriage – The Five Chapters in this section are on:
Chapter One – “Marriage and the passion of God” illuminates the principle: “Your marriage is an illustration of the relationship of Christ to His people.” The key passage in this chapter is a study of Hosea 1-3.
Chapter Two – “Marriage and the purposes of God” states the principle: “The purpose of your marriage is companionship and partnership in mission.” The biblical background for this principle is found in Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:18-24.
Chapter Three – “Marriage and the kingdom of God” contends the principle: “Your marriage is to demonstrate that it’s good to live under God’s reign.” The biblical basis for the thesis of this chapter is from Ephesians 5:22-33.
Chapter Four – “Marriage and the Submission of God’s people” states the principle: “As the church submits to Christ, so wives put their husband’s will before their own.” The background for the principle discussed in this chapter is from 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Chapter Five – “Marriage and the Loving authority of Christ” discusses the principle: “As Christ loves the church, husbands put their wife’s interests before their own.” The basis for discussion in this chapter is from Mark 10:40-45.
Part Two: Gospel-Centered Relationships – The Five Chapters in this section cover:
Chapter Six – “Grace” – The principle on grace is that “grace means we can always begin again.” The key passages are Titus 3:3-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 2:11-14; and Ephesians 4:26-27.
Chapter Seven – “Love” – Enumerates the principle: “daily thoughtfulness matters more than grand gestures.” The biblical content for this chapter is based on John 13:1-17.
Chapter Eight – “Conflict” – States the principle: “Conflict begins when my selfish desires are denied by my spouse.” The passage dealing with conflict is from James 3:13-18.
Chapter Nine – “Reconciliation” – Focuses on the principle: “Reconciliation begins when my selfish desires are denied by me.” The biblical basis of discussion for this chapter comes from James 4:1-12.
Chapter Ten – “Forgiveness” – Highlights the principle: “Trust must be earned and forgiveness must be given.” The key text on forgiveness is from Matthew 18:21-35.
Part Three: Gospel-Centered Sex – The five chapters in this section are on:
Chapter 11: “Enjoying sex” on the principle: “it’s our duty to enjoy marital sex.” The featured passage in this chapter is Song of Songs 4:12-5:1.
Chapter 12: “Loving sex” elaborates on the principle: “Good sex begins long before you take your clothes off.” The primary passage for this chapter is Song of Songs 4:1-16.
Chapter 13: “Transforming sex” develops the principle: “We get sex wrong because we get God wrong.” The key biblical passage developed is Romans 1:18-25.
Chapter 14: “Gospel-centered beauty” hones in on the principle: “Love finds us beautiful and love makes beautiful.” The numerous passages developed are Song of Songs 1:5-6, 8-10; Romans 12:2; Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Peter 3:3.
Chapter 15: The conclusion of the book “Marriage is not forever” solidifies the principle: “Find your identity and joy in God rather than in marriage.” The main biblical passages developed are John 4:4-26; Mark 12:18-25; Revelation 21:3-4.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I will be using it in the context of counseling and coaching couples who desire marriage; those who are already married; and be using it in the context of small groups in the church. I highly recommend this book because it is indeed gospel centered; it covers the major bases of a Christian marriage; and is not overwhelming for those who are not readers. I especially recommend it for guys (and gals) who don’t enjoy reading, or simply don’t have a lot of time on their hands. Each chapter is only a few pages long, and you can get a lot of substance and help in a short amount of time if you just want to read on a specific topic in the book. It gives excellent food for thought and discussion and will be very beneficial to any couple no matter how long they have been married.