January 8th, 2010
Piper, John. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 192 pp. $17.99. Purchase at Westminster.
John Piper has once again set before us a God-honoring, Christ-exalting book that will cause the Christian to think deeply about marriage. An easy read, This Momentary Marriage is divided into 15 chapters, each able to be read in a day as a substantive devotional.
Piper sets forth the truth of marriage as something that is a doing of God as well as something that is for the display of God’s glory. With that as his foundation, Piper builds a biblically-saturated understanding of what a Christian marriage looks like…for better or worse.
He spends a few chapters detailing the covenantal aspect of marriage and how we must honor that covenant. He then moves into the roles of each in the marriage. The man, of course, is the head of the marriage while the woman is to submit to the man’s authority. Granted, these two concepts, while biblical, will cause some (egalitarians) to completely disagree with the author.
After detailing the biblical roles in the marriage, Piper moves on to discuss singleness and preparing for marriage. Next, he delves into the always controversial discussion of children. Finally, he delves into even more controversy by discussing the issue of divorce and remarriage. With the ultimate conclusion to both being rooted in his understanding of Ephesians 5.
I found this book to be extremely well thought out and executed. His Gospel-centeredness is to be commended even though it takes him to some hard positions–especially where divorce and remarriage is concerned. He argues that if a believer is divorced (whether it was initiated by an unbelieving spouse or not) the believer cannot remarry as long as the ex-spouse is alive. I tend to disagree with that stance but, given his Scripture as a launching point, Ephesians 5, I can understand why he claims this to be so. After all, he does say that he believes we do not have as radical an understanding of marriage as God does and therefore we will struggle to apply some of the biblical teachings on the subject.
There are some aspects of the book (see above) that will ruffle some feathers and not everyone will agree with the positions Piper takes, but the charge cannot be leveled that John Piper does not carefully and prayerfully arrive at his conclusions without first studying the Bible. As a minister, I can see this book being developed into a pre-marital counseling course. If you are newly married or going to be getting married in say the next 30 years, pick up a copy of This Momentary Marriage and read through it with your spouse or spouse-to-be. If you are not newly married, but want to be challenged to be more Christ-like in your marriage, then you, too, need to pick up a copy of This Momentary Marriage.