I did not intend for this to be the Winter of Tim Keller, but here we are with three books by him in a row (…ish). Thankfully, he quoted Jane Eyre in the final chapter, so I already know what I’m reading next. (JANE EYRE! REASON TURNED TYRANT! That wasn’t the section he quoted, but the section he did quote is equally disciplined, and he named yet another reason she is THE BEST and I LOVE HER THE MOST and then I spent the moments before sleep recapping, for myself, in dramatic fashion, the plot of the book, and IT IS SO DRAMATIC AND GOTHIC AND MY EVERYTHING!) (This is going to kick off a Spring of Bronte, since one of my friends is currently reading a Charlotte Bronte biography, AND I realized there are works I haven’t read available free for my kindle!)
Ahem. Back to this book. It has sparked so many good conversations and intellectual side pursuits in the past two weeks that I have been referencing it constantly! I couldn’t avoid talking about it if I tried.
Though, can we have this conversation with a dose of humility (on my side) and…ummm…restraint? I don’t miss the irony of finishing and posting this near Valentine’s Day. And I was reminded just yesterday, by a dear friend, that I’d REFUSED to consider reading this book last fall, even though my church community was reading and discussing it, at first because I was single and didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation about marriage, and then because I was starting to date someone and didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation about marriage. (Is there an echo in here?) Now, a few short months later, I’m seriously dating someone (here’s where the restraint comes in, folks – please refrain from winking and joking, because this is a vulnerable place), and realized that any idea I had about how that might look was totally off base, that this is a lot more work and vulnerability than I expected, and that I need a point-of-reference more comprehensive than Not A Chick Flick. (Because I will eviscerate a chick flick swiftly and mercilessly – apologies to housemates for whom I’ve ruined the viewing experience – but rightly naming something as shallow doesn’t necessarily mean you understand depth.)
“It is hard to get a good perspective on marriage. We all see it through the inevitably distorted lenses of our own experience.”
Welp. This book was awesome. I appreciate SO MUCH that Keller attacks our common idols – he points out all of the ways that society and culture and the church have wrongly viewed marriage (both historically and in the present), and he brings us back to the Bible, to what God says, to what Jesus says. It’s so refreshing that he acknowledges these influences but doesn’t necessarily engage with them, or pick a side, but instead offers a third choice.
I should definitely pull quotes from this. [Update: I tried.] Especially about the work of, the commitment to, the reasons for marriage. So level-headed. So realistic. So much more sustainable than romantic notions. [Yes. All of this. I tried to pull quotes, but realized that anything taken out of context was going to sound incomplete. And I don’t think it’s appropriate, or legal, to transcribe entire chapters onto my blog.]
“In this book we examine the Christian understanding of marriage. It is based, as we have said, on a straightforward reading of Biblical texts.”
That’s a fairly thorough summary. If you’re interested in that, I highly recommend this book.
Marriage haiku, based on the lessons of this book:
not a fairy tale.
no consumer transaction.
it’s tough, but fruitful.