Many books exist to help couples work through marriage problems, but Keller's excellent book connects a big scriptural picture-What is God's plan for marriage and how does it connect to the gospel?-to the personal: How should this change me? It begins with a brief history of marriage and a snapshot of its current state before shifting to a discussion of the mystery described in Ephesians 5. So what is marriage for? "It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us." That overarching vision provides a framework for chapters on gender roles and sex. Examples drawn from the Kellers' 36-year marriage help flesh out the chapters.
After a chapter in which the Driscolls talk about their lives and sometimes rocky marriage, the book divides into a section on marriage and another on sex. Whether dealing with friendship or sex, the book is practical, drawing from their experience and the lives of those they've counseled. In the chapter "Can we ______?" they deal with specific sexual topics by drawing two important questions from 1 Corinthians 6:12: Is it lawful? and, Is it helpful? The first asks whether God permits a practice, and the second asks whether it draws a couple together or drives the spouses apart. The language is blunt and the content is probably too graphic for some folks.
The Sumners come from different backgrounds: Sarah is a theologian, and Jim-before he came to Christ-was a male stripper. In marriage, they also had to overcome personality and work differences. This slender book shows how understanding the biblical metaphor of headship is key to working out many marriage issues. Half the book focuses on teasing out the meaning of the metaphor, and shows how some common understandings don't hold up when subjected to careful scrutiny: They say the metaphor highlights the connectedness of a head with a body. The second half of the book covers many practical topics, using anecdotes from their marriage and showing how a dynamic of submission and sacrifice can provide a way through marriage thickets.
If marriage problems stemmed primarily from lack of knowledge, this little book would have a great chance of success. But since the problem we bring to marriage is our sinful selves, it's unlikely that four days is enough to fix us. Nonetheless, the Smalleys address important topics that contribute to marital happiness: loving words and actions; communication and resolving anger; affection and intimacy; and trials and treasures. The book includes global statements and sloppy writing: "Women tend to be better at honoring their mates than men do." Still, the Smalleys have been married more than 40 years. They've weathered many storms and share some of the practices that helped shelter them.
Opposing crony capitalism is an issue upon which both the right and left in American politics should be able to agree. In Throw Them All Out (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), Peter Schweizer documents with mind-numbing detail how politicians get rich by using information they are privy to because of their public office. He names both Republican and Democratic officeholders, detailing specific trades, land purchases, and other profitable deals. For example, John Kerry made millions trading heavily in health-related stocks during the debate over reform. As Schweizer states, "This stuff is completely legal and, according to Senate rules, ethical." He advocates making politicians abide by the same rules that govern the rest of us: "Crony capitalism has a corrosive effect on our politics, our economy, and our character."