Reviews > Books

Books: Love and marriage

Books | Covenant relationships, courtship, and wedded bliss

Issue: "Motel 1600," Sept. 6, 1997

Alas, the family is still under siege in American society and life. Despite all that has been said and written over the past two decades, despite all the seminars, conferences, video series, reform initiatives, community outreaches, sermons, counseling programs, recovery programs, television specials, and educational programs, our covenantal relationships are in more trouble than ever before.

The litany of woes is by now all too familiar. We have watched in horror and disbelief as the number of illegitimate births has climbed nearly 400 percent, as divorce rates have more than quadrupled, as the reported incidence of domestic violence has increased 320 percent, as the percentage of children either abandoned or left to their own resources has nearly quintupled, and as teen suicides have skyrocketed 200 percent.

It is for all these reasons and more that these two new books by Douglas Wilson are welcome. Neither is a mere restatement of the obvious. Together, these books provide us with a profound examination of the holy duties inherent in family life from an unswerving biblical perspective.

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In Reforming Marriage Mr. Wilson gleefully sketches the practical and covenantal theology of Christian wedlock. What is surprising about that is not the practical or covenantal part, but the gleeful part. This is a book over-brimming with contentment, satisfaction, and joy.

Even when detailing the biblical instruction on such thorny issues as submission and headship, finances and faithfulness, birth control and children, the delight of holy matrimony and its divine provisions are always kept at the center of the discussion.

Though I've read untold dozens of marriage books during my more than two decades of wedded bliss, I learned much from these pages. But more than anything, I was refreshed. Mr. Wilson's commitment to a Reformed worldview, his broad grasp of biblical orthodoxy, and his obvious joie de vivre combine to make this compact volume a real treasure.

In his brief but satisfying Her Hand in Marriage, Mr. Wilson tackles one of the stickiest aspects of family life: a father's responsibility to prepare his sons and daughters for the blessing of marriage.

There have been a growing number of fine books written recently about the issue of dating and courtship. As a concerned father, I have read them all and this is the best yet. Balanced, biblical, accessible, and practical, it is filled with the great liberty and happy fidelity that characterizes Christian truth.

If you've sworn off reading yet another book on the beleaguered family, swear off your swearing off-each of these fine volumes merits your fullest attention.

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