Saturday, December 15, 2018 | site map | contact | FSJ

Subscribe to Salvo magazine today! Take a look at an issue online and if you like what you see, SUBSCRIBE at a discounted rate.

Featured Blip

Love Actualized

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

reviewed by Terrell Clemmons

Ssometimes perspective is everything. Against a cultural backdrop in which feminists declare marriage outdated and no longer necessary (Newsweek, "I Don't," June 11, 2010) even as LGBT couples clamor for it to be redefined to confer on them its benefits, New York City pastor Timothy Keller, along with Kathy, his wife of 37 years, offers another perspective on marriage.

Historically, marriage has been viewed as a duty to family and society. In post-Enlightenment times, as individual freedom gained currency, marriage came to be viewed as a way to achieve personal life goals, such as emotional, romantic, and sexual gratification. This "marriage as a means of self-actualization" view fairly well captures the contemporary construction of marriage, but the biblical picture, while it encompasses both sets of desirable ends, reveals it to be much more. This is what the Kellers present, starting with Genesis, where God himself conducted the first marriage ceremony.

Marriage was established by God to reflect his nature in the world. The essence of God's nature is his agape love, which means a sacrificial commitment to live for the good of another. "Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love," writes Timothy. In a wedding, "you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful, and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstances." It is an act of embarking on becoming a larger, more mature person. Agape is the caliber of love God himself has bestowed on humanity, but when fallen and frail people undertake to do likewise, a measure of difficulty follows. This leads to another biblical principle on marriage.

Marriage is one of God's primary means of making us better people—people who increasingly manifest the self-giving nature of God. Nothing has the power to reveal unflattering character traits like marriage. "Marriage by its very nature has the 'power of truth'—the power to show you the truth about who you are," Keller writes. It "takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it." And yet, the greater beauty of the marriage relationship, as God designed it, is that it also possesses the powers of love and grace. It is the place where we discover the radical truth about how flawed we are and the radical truth of how loved we are, reflecting the persevering, active love of God, revealed in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ.

These biblical principles regarding the purpose, essence, and mission of marriage are all but lost on the secularists of our day, and this explains why the contemporary state of marriage lies in such disrepair. The enemy of marriage is sinful self-absorption, and the self-actualization model for marriage not only speaks its language; it also feeds its furies.

Marriage, as God designed it, is a far more profound concept than a legal arrangement affording personal benefits. "Submission to God's pattern in marriage gets you more in touch with some deep things in yourself, your primary maleness and femaleness, yet marriage balances you and broadens you, too," writes Kathy. Its blessings and fulfillments are found on the far side of that submission. That perspective, with the help of God, can transform a struggling marriage into a striving, and then ultimately a thriving, marriage. It can change everything. 

From Salvo 20 (Spring 2012)
Subscribe to Salvo today!

If you enjoy Salvo, please consider giving an online donation! Thanks for your continued support.


A Boy's Life: 5 Recommendations for Shielding Our Sons from the Anti-Culture—And Setting Them Towards Manhood by Anthony Esolen

Revolution 101: How the 'New Civics' Is Fomenting Civil Unrest by Terrell Clemmons

Up for Grabs: In Science, When 'Anything Goes,' Everything Goes by Denyse O'Leary

Optimal Optics: Evolutionists Don't Know a Good Eye When They See One by Jonathan Wells


The Darwin Tales: It's Time to Remit Darwinian Storytelling to the Annals of History by Terrell Clemmons

Engendered Confusion: The Chaos of Postmodern Sexuality by Laurie Higgins

Zombie Killer: The "Icons of Evolution" Have Joined the Ranks of the Undead by Denyse O'Leary

My Favorite Zombies: Can We Let Them Rest in Peace? by James M. Kushiner

Eye Openers: Eight Common Factors for Atheists Changing Their Minds About God by Matt Nelson

Tuning Out the Universe: How Naturalism & Post-Fact Science Ignore the Evidence We See by Denyse O'Leary

Deep-Seated Rights: What They Are & Why You Have Them by Steve Jones

Improbably So: Fine-Tuning Is Unlikely, but Unlikely Things Happen All the Time by Tim Barnett

The Long Red Shadow: Mike Shotwell Has a Message for Millennial America by Terrell Clemmons

The Good Life: It's to Know, Serve & Love the Truth, Not the Pursuit of Happiness by James Altena

Taking Polls Apart: Human Complexity Foils Electoral Predictions by Denyse O'Leary

Morality as Story: The False Charity of Modern Journalism by Rebekah Curtis

Can We Talk?: It Is Crucial That We Put Our Minds to Contentious Issues by James M. Kushiner

© 2018 Salvo magazine. Published by The Fellowship of St. James. All rights reserved. Returns, refunds, and privacy policy.