You should read this book if you…

…want to gain a better understanding of how marriage can train you to be more Christ-like.

“In a nut shell” …

This book explains how marriage reveals God and His love to the world. This is done by comparing the marriage relationship to our relationship with God. It points out similarities in both, and how marriage teaches us to love, forgive, and respect each other.

Key Ideas…

  • Marriage is a training ground for a holy life. We can’t just pray harder and try different tactics—and hope everything will work out. We need to see the challenges and struggles of marriage as a way to draw closer to God and grow in our Christian character.
  • Marriage can be a platform for evangelism when it values commitment to another person, just as God is committed to His promises to us. Divorce is the easy way out, but it also demonstrates that commitment does not mean anything. If the purpose of marriage is always to be happy, people would get new marriages when they are no longer happy with the current one. “Sticking it out” demonstrates the principle and practice of reconciliation.
  • Loving another person is not always easy, but marriage teaches us to stretch our love and enlarge our capacity for love. We are selfish by nature. It takes effort to give up our selfishness, share ourselves with another person, and put that person’s needs above our own.
  • Marriage teaches the importance of respecting one another. When we spend so much time with one person, we can become “comfortable” with our spouse and find it easier to highlight faults than give respect. We are called to honor each other even when we know each other’s deepest character flaws.
  • Marriage exposes our sin. Our spouse knows almost everything we do, including our deepest desires and our temptations. This spotlight of closeness in a marriage exposes our sin. Thankfully, we have an opportunity to address it before the Lord.
  • When you enter the marriage relationship, you commit to moving toward one another. Any step back or attempt to retreat is an act of fraud.  We must learn to move toward our spouse; God has given us this person to teach us how to love.
  • One of marriage’s primary purposes is to teach us how to forgive. If you can forgive and accept your spouse—the person closest to you—then you are well equipped to offer forgiveness to others. It may be unnatural for us to forgive, but the practice will be invaluable.

Action Steps…

  • It is important to humble yourself before your spouse and learn servanthood. To fully sanctify the marital relationship, we must live as Jesus did—with sacrifice and service daily. Just as He laid down His life for us, we need to selflessly put aside our energy, wants, and desires to serve our spouses, regardless of how they treat us.
  • Persevere through the difficulties and learn to be quick to forgive. With an eternal outlook, this life of self-denial is a preparation for eternity.
  • Embracing difficulty builds character. God won’t remove the struggles, but He will enable you to walk through them victoriously.
  • Learn to communicate always. Although this calls us out of ourselves, it helps foster unity and will be the foundation for a meaningful prayer life and a meaningful marriage.
  • Live in continual dependence on the Holy Spirit. This take practice and is a discipline, for sure. We need to continually talk to God. It will become more natural over time.

Quotables…

  • “The reason God became flesh was so that we might know Him; correspondingly, God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution for the benefit of humanity. He planted marriage among humans as yet another signpost pointing to His own eternal spiritual existence.” Pg 30
  • “Contempt is born when we fixate on our spouse’s weaknesses. Every spouse has those sore points. If you want to find them, without a doubt, you will. If you want to obsess about them, they’ll grow—but you won’t!” Pg 70
  • “With heaven as a future hope, spiritual growth as a present reality, and, in many cases, children for whom our sacrifice is necessary, an intact marriage is an ideal worth fighting for.” Pg 115
  • “A good marriage is not something you find. It’s something you work for.” Pg 133
  • “We can’t control how our spouse will act or how the world will act, but we can control how we will act and how we will respond.” Pg 144
  • “Marriage based on life in Jesus Christ invites us to divorce the lie (an idealized view of our spouse) and embrace reality (two sinful people struggling to maintain lifelong commitment).” Pg 165
  • “The beauty of marriage is that it confronts our selfishness and demands our service twenty-four hours a day.” Pg 186

How this book has changed my marriage…

This book has given me more of an awareness of how marriage can make me holy. It is still too early to see dramatic changes, but it has opened my eyes to see my selfishness. I am learning to daily humble myself and serve my husband, giving him respect even when I don’t think he deserves it. It has not been easy, but I can see a difference in our interactions with each other, moving closer toward each other again.

Book Information:
Book Title | Sacred Marriage
Author | Gary Thomas
Year of Publication | 2000
Publisher | Zondervan
Pages | 268
Author’s Website | www.garythomas.com/books/sacred-marriage

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