A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
Made in Heaven?
As we see so much marriage and family break-up, to the detriment of all in society, it is encouraging to read books that want to ‘build a better marriage’. This book is aimed at Christian married couples and the author certainly has a heart to help them to build strong marriages.
I liked the way the Bible was quoted in the text as, so often, references are given and people say to themselves ‘yes I know that passage’. In fact passages are often not so well known as we think. Here the writer often makes us read each passage while then commenting on it. Sometimes it would have been more helpful for the exposition to be spelt out rather than just leave the Bible on its own.
‘True love’, ‘The Theology of Marriage’ and ‘Sex’ are some of the chapters where biblical teaching is given and at the end of the chapters a list of questions could help couples talk things over. I suggest these might be best done with a person preparing a couple for marriage or sharing with a couple wanting to enrich their marriage.
Twenty-one commonly asked questions are tackled near the end, where in general the Bible is left to give the answers. ‘Is it OK to be single?’ is put as the first question - good to see this is given a prominent place, but in a book for people already married it seems a little out of place. The concluding true stories serve a helpful purpose to really earth the book.
Having prepared people for marriage and counselled couples for some years, I felt this book did not add a lot to some of the excellent books that have been around for some time. Friends who run marriage enrichment weekends are finding that is a very engaging way of helping people ‘enrich’ their marriages. I have used the CPAS video course on marriage which is also an engaging way to help people look at marriage. This book did not really invite you in to read and engage with the subject in the way that many modern books do.
While strong on truth and the author’s real concern to help couples, I felt the book at times lacked a graciousness that is so important. At times it was frank to the point of being easily hurtful to some people sensitive because of the ‘baggage’ they have brought into a relationship. The clear teaching on divorce needed to be a bit more gracious. It was also strange to see a book strong on marriage using the word ‘partner’ which may be politically correct but is not a word that necessarily speaks of a married couple.
Having taught about marriage, family and work as a series of sermons a or midweek teaching series at various times, I would reckon this book would be a good resource to put on my shelves to use when revising my notes for the next time I take a similar course. Youth leaders might also find it helpful to find their way to parts of the Bible so they can answer the questions that young people are asking about marriage and relationships today. As many put marriage off for a variety of reasons, youth groups, churches, and other groups do need to hear and see strong teaching on marriage.