Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: This Momentary Marriage

Perhaps the title of this recently published book by John Piper gives you a shock, just as it shocked me when I first saw it. Is he really saying that marriage is momentary, and arguing that divorce is inevitable for some marriages?

As with the rest of his books, Piper is faithful to the Bible, and this is an excellent book on marriage which could be useful for marriage prep or in assisting struggling couples. Piper, in his own forty-year-long momentary marriage, argues rightly that no matter how long our marriage may last, they are all, ultimately, momentary in the light of eternity. An eternity where there is no marriage between husband and wife, where they are never given or taken in marriage, as Jesus makes clear. Rather,

The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and his glorified Church.'

Clearly and persuasively, Piper shows that marriage, every marriage, is a picture (however imperfectly) of the Lord Jesus and his bride in heaven. Every marriage is looking forward to the final marriage between Jesus and his church. Through the successive chapters, he builds on this by going back to first principles to show that marriage is the doing of God (he designed it and gave it as a gift) and the display of God (it shows what God's eternal purpose is).

There are useful chapters on forgiving and forbearing each other, pursuing conformity to Christ in the covenant (first in yourself before your spouse), headship and submission, singleness, sex, and making children disciples of Christ. Throughout, there are also quotations from Dietrich Bonhoeffer which illustrate and complement what Piper is teaching.

This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence is a very good book, and comes highly recommended for pastors who may use it as the basis of a teaching series on marriage, as the course book for marriage prep, or simply as a great pastoral resource to refer to repeatedly. It is suitable for all people, not just marrieds, and will be profitable because of its faithfulness to the Scripture and the God of marriage.

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