Gary Thomas is one of my favorite authors. He clearly ennunciates what it means to be a Christ-follower in our culture. His books are NOT filled with simplistic 5-step how-to-be-a-better-Christian pablum. Instead, he takes us deeply into the Word of God with challenges that cannot be ignored. Sacred Marriage is a classic volume on a radically biblical view of marriage that ought to be required reading for every engaged or newly-married couple in order to help them keep the typical selfish and juvenile conflicts that plague most marriages at bay.
Thomas asks, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” and then proceeds to demonstrate how marriage is the perfect crucible for progressive sanctification – enabling us to become conformed to the very image of God through our relationship with our spouses. Thomas writes:
If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me “happy,” then I’d have to get a “new” marriage every two or three years. But if I really wanted to see God transform me from the inside out, I’d need to concentrate on changing myself rather than on changing my spouse. In fact, you might even say, the more difficult my spouse proved to be, the more opportunity I’d have to grow. Just as physical exercise needs to be somehwat strenuous, so “relational exercise” may need to be a bit rigorous to truly stress-test the heart.” (p. 23)
This is a book that will take some time to read. You may need to re-read some sections and take time to wrestle with what Thomas writes. He covers new territory that will challenge your culturally influenced misunderstanding of marriage. My wife and I have led numerous groups and classes through the study of Sacred Marriage and have always discoverd something new to apply to our own marriage of 31 years. If you are married, or are contemplating marriage, please get your hands on this book. Sacred Marriage is available at Amazon.