"Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World" methodically hikes it's way through the thorny bushes and briers to blaze a clear trail for others to follow. This 448 page hardback, edited by Curt Hamner, John Trent, Rebekah Byrd, Eric Johnson and Erik Thoennes, guides pastors, parents, partners and parishioners down many expected trails, but also takes surprising turns that pick up scenic views of a greater landscape just over the rise.
"Marriage" is a Christian book packed full with sixteen chapters and eighteen "Continuing Insight" précis all written by different contributors: men, women, theologians, pastors, counselors, psychologists, older, and younger, to name a sample of the variety of authors. The chapters move at different paces, depending on the subject and the writer's style. And the four sections, Foundation, Description, Challenges, and Mission, spread out to engage with plenty of subjects. Truly, "this work isn't meant to provide a sprint through a theology of marriage but rather, a deeper dive than many have ever taken before into just why marriage is so important and wonderful as God's creation" (20).
Many of the authors stay on familiar turf, giving muscle and breadth to those subjects. Other writers happily go into areas least expected, such as marriage and natural law, how marriage is an important part of the mission of God, and marriage-divorce-remarriage. Of all the good chapters, the one I found especially surprising and significant was "Reclaiming Beauty Amidst Brokenness" by Andrew J. Schutzer. This chapter is primarily focused on safety, sexual abuse, shame. There were many helpful insights on the topics, as well as the damage of sexual abuse, and a good many recommendations and encouragements for those married to survivors of child sexual abuse. But underneath this chapter's theme are some deep perceptions, such as the "biblical notion of "self" is always a relationally embedded self, rooted in an extended web of relationships...The biblical person is always a being-in-relationship" (232). I will be referring back to this chapter for quite some time.
"Marriage" is almost a textbook of information, digestion, and application. College and seminary libraries need to snag a copy. Pastors, elders, and counselors will find this a must. It is a volume that will also make a delightful gift for that favorite seminarian in your life. If you can't tell, I'll say it clearly: you need this book, for yourself and significant others in your life!
I am very appreciative that Moody Publishers sent me the book used for this review when I requested it. This review is freely given and freely expressed. The publisher made no demands on me whatsoever, except that I put forth an honest review, which has been given heretofore.