Married for God
By Christopher Ash
Married for God, Making you marriage the best it can be, is published by IVP, price 7.99. It is a shorter version of Christopher Ash’s excellent first book, Marriage, Sex in the Service of God, and will bring his insights to a wider audience.
It offers an accessible study guide for individuals, engaged or married couples and church leaders to reflect on God’s purpose for marriage. There are helpful questions at the end of each chapter and in the bibliography the author links each chapter back to the deeper explanations given in his first book, meaning the book can be used for individual study, group work or back up for your own preparation course.
There are many books and courses which purport to help us to communicate better, to be happier in our marriage or make it last. Christopher Ash’s book starts unashamedly from the question, “Why”. For Christians discovering the answer to why God made marriage and what he wants for it, must surely be crucial. It enables us to be obedient to Him and to follow his will for our lives. “If we get our aims clear, then we shall see why marriage has to be what it is, and we will be well placed to see how to build a strong marriage.”
Christopher Ash has gone beyond the usual issues of relationship building to unpack the true nature and purpose of marriage in God’s eyes. In our selfish culture, it is so easy to become inward looking and to focus only on what we can get out of our marriage, but when serving God together is at the heart, then marriage takes on its true role in his purposes. God is looking to married couples to give fruitful service overflowing from a passionate, faithful, grace-filled commitment to each other and to Him.
The first chapter looks at what we bring into marriage from our pasts particularly in the area of sex and how grace and forgiveness play a part in enabling us to make a fresh start to live God’s way in our marriage. The author then goes on to examine why God made us male and female and established marriage in the first place, and comes up with three biblically based answers to this question: having children, displaying faithfulness rather than selfishness, bringing order rather than chaos into family life and society. His conclusion is that sex truly is intended for the service of God. Subsequent chapters unpack these ideas by looking at what is the point of children, sex and intimacy and the marriage institution. He also looks at the pattern of the marriage relationship which is revealed by the bible tackling such difficult issues as submission and the call for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. A chapter is also devoted to singleness. The final chapter proposes that faithfulness is at the heart of marriage and why this is important to God.
This book is eminently readable and firmly based in the bible. Some may find what it has to say challenging, but it is worth facing those challenges and reaching a richer understanding of the maker’s plans.
Arguably the greatest role for this book will be to challenge Christians to consider the true nature and purpose of marriage in an age where many have lost sight of this. It should enable the church to articulate the truth about God’s plan and provision for marriage and bring hope and direction to many who have set out or are about to set out on the adventure with God and each other which is married life.
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