The words, “Til death do us part”, in one form or another, are spoken as a vow during most marriage ceremonies. Copper and I spoke the words in our vows, and I’m sure most of you did, too. Marriage in today’s society, however, is rarely seen as permanent. The sad truth is that almost half of all marriages, including those within the church, end in divorce. But why? John Piper, noted author and a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, thinks that our vision of marriage is too small.
In his book This Momentary Marriage, Pastor Piper reminds us that the true meaning of marriage goes beyond being in love. Rather, it is meant to be an earthly picture of the covenantal love between Christ and His church. Earthly marriages can be wonderful, but they are marriages that will end in the blink of an eye at the death of a spouse. The marriage of Christ and His church, however, will be for an eternity.
With this covenantal view of marriage in place, John Piper guides us into looking at our earthly marriages covenantally. His fourteen chapters flow seamlessly from one to the next, as he considers all aspects of marriage. What happens if the love between spouses ends? What about those biblical roles of leadership and submission? What if the man won’t lead? What does the Bible say about the marriage bed and children? How can the childless couple still be “fruitful”? Is divorce ever okay? How do the unmarried fit into the picture? How does the church fulfill the command to hospitality while including married, never married, widowed and divorced in that hospitality?
All of these questions, and more, are answered in this little book of less than 200 pages. As he examines earthly marriage, Mr. Piper constantly points us back to the ultimate picture of marriage, that of the church as the bride of Christ. This “parable of permanence” is never difficult to understand or to apply to earthly marriage as the author has written here clearly and especially for the layman. I’ve read other books by Mr. Piper and have found them, at times, very academic and difficult to read. Not so This Momentary Marriage!
My copy of this book is now heavily highlighted, and as I was searching for quotes to share with you, it was difficult to choose one or two to share as examples. The book is filled with incredible teaching on marriage. One chapter contains the best refutation of the egalitarian view of marriage that I’ve ever seen, and it’s only a page and a half in length. The blending of the biblical roles of husband and wife meets seamlessly with our roles of mutual submission and servanthood as brothers and sisters in Christ. Excellent!
Mr. Piper concludes in much the same was as he started, pointing us always heavenward. In his closing remarks on why he chose not to cover marital economics, health or the success of children as practical topics, he says, “Make him (God) and the glory of his Son central, and you get the practical effects thrown in. Make the practical effects central and you lose both.”
On a personal note, I consider Mr. Piper’s words in This Momentary Marriage all the more credible because of his decision to take a sabbatical from his pastorate, writing and speaking for several months in order to devote more time to his family, and especially to devote more time to his wife of forty years, Noel. This is a man who practices what he preaches!
From the conclusion:
“Very soon the shadow will give way to Reality. The partial will pass into the Perfect. The foretaste will lead to the Banquet. The troubled path will end in Paradise. A hundred candle-lit evenings will come to their consummation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And this momentary marriage will be swallowed up by Life. Christ will be all and in all. And the purpose of marriage will be complete.”
This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence, by John Piper. Excellent and highly recommended. (This beautiful, hard cover book would make a wonderful wedding or anniversary gift, too.)
Please remember that I think it is vitally important that your are reading!! The Bible first and foremost, and that daily; but do not underestimate the importance of reading other books. Please read this post for more information and to understand why I think it is so very important that you have a good book or two to read at all times.
The books that I am currently reading are featured in the sidebar. It’s on the right. You might need to click over to the main page of the blog to see it. Go take a look! Just below that is the list of books I’ve completed so far this year. I’d love to know what you‘re reading. Leave a comment and let me know.
God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!