Tim Keller has written an interesting book on marriage. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the complexity of commitment with the Wisdom of God.
I highly encourage you to pick up this book if you want to strengthen your marriage or even prepare to be married. I wanted to share some reflections on the fifth chapter of this book.
In Chapter Five, Tim Keller points out that marriage involves marrying a stranger. While there is much that can be known about someone before marriage, it is not until marriage and following where much about a person becomes known. This means that there is an element of mystery regarding the other person.
Keller warns that if the purpose for marriage is anything other than spiritual friendship that is mentioned earlier in the book, both partners will be shocked to find out that there is more to the other person than expected. Because of this, it is important to follow the suggested key principles for establishing understanding and commitment. These are The Power of Truth, The Power of Love, and the Power of Grace.
The Power of Truth
The Power of Truth means that marriage has the power to show you who you really are. Marriage confronts you with yourself and reveals your heart. Marriage opens the previously hidden faults and weaknesses of the heart. Keller reminds the reader that this is a good thing as it allows people to deal with those hidden faults they never would have noticed (155). This is a gift that is hard to receive. For many seeing the raw unfiltered elements in their spouse will be alarming. However, it is precisely because someone can see this and has made a commitment to that person that this gift helpful for the spouse. The importance of this principle is that the only way to see the change God is working in life is through continuing to be with that person in spite of and because of the truth being revealed.
The Power of Love
Hand in hand with the Power of Truth is the Power of Love, love that is able to heal the wounds and hurts of life (162). The result of growing close to another person such as your spouse is that the words and opinions of him or her mean more than the hurts the world can put on you. The power of love in marriage is a small picture of the power Jesus has in us. There is a skill to giving this same love that Keller explains to his readers. Keller calls it the currencies of love, or love languages (169). This goes into understanding the ways that love is conveyed or expressed. It is more meaningful to some people to have love expressed a certain way, in marriage it is important to understand the love language of the other person.
The Power of Grace,
Grace makes it possible to practice repentance and forgiveness (182). How do you get this power of grace? Keller says that you cannot make it yourself, but you must reflect it (185). Our sins put Jesus to death and yet we are forgiven by him, our spouse’s sins may feel painful to us, but we can forgive as Christ because he first forgave us. Without the power of grace in our lives truth and love in marriage will collapse. Keller explains the need for grace and love and truth in our lives as key to developing a healthy relationship with a stranger.
Do you have any books on marriage you would recommend?