Friday, December 2, 2016

Marriage God's Way - A Book Review, part one

I'm going to be reviewing Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Recipe for Healthy, Joyful, Christ-Centered Relationships by Scott LaPierre.  I won't be doing it in one long post, because I have a lot of comments to make and I don't want it to get tedious. For this first part I will start with just giving my overall opinions and save the specifics for later.

What I Like About This Book

  • The author is pro-marriage. He makes it abundantly clear that God instituted marriage for our good and that as a person and a pastor, he is in favor of marriage. He doesn't lament that marriage is some sort of necessary evil, but rather promotes it as a part of a joyful life. He intends for his book to be a help for all of those who want to enjoy marriage.
  • The book acknowledges that God is the creator of marriage. When marriage is not good, in nearly all (if not all) cases it is because one or both parties to the marriage are not following what the Bible teaches about marriage and they need to go to the Scriptures for the solutions, or they may just need to repent and change course. This point is a strong recommendation for the book.
  • I know some people who attend the church pastored by Scott LaPierre, and from what I know of this congregation, it is a place where happy marriages and long-term marriages abound. Pastor LaPierre himself seems pretty happily married and he testifies that his parents are as well, which means this stuff isn't just theoretical to him. I once had the unhappy experience of having a pastor who spoke disparagingly of marriage nearly every week, even going so far as referring to his wife (from the pulpit!) as being "that neighbor I can never get away from." This man does know marriage, and his experience with it is good. 
  • There is no shying away from the fact that God designed men and women differently. Their roles and responsibilities in marriage are different. The passages of Scripture dealing with husbands and wives are boldly proclaimed without apology. There is no attempt to ignore aspects that might be considered less than politically correct. Bravo!
What I Don't Like About This Book

  • The book is written to both husbands and wives. Unfortunately, one of the greatest and most destructive temptations for wives is to judge their husbands. Instead of reading the Bible as a mirror and seeking to recognize their own sin, it is too common for wives to read the Bible as a means of identifying their husbands' short-comings. A book like this provides the same temptation. While it is appropriate for husbands to instruct their wives, washing them with the water by the word, the reverse is not true. No husband wants to listen to his wife saying, "The Bible says you should...." and it isn't any better to hear them say, "Pastor LaPierre says you should..."  Any wives reading this book should restrain themselves from using the book as a club on their husbands. This is why some of my all time favorite books on marriage are written by women, for women, sparing me from having to read about my husband's duties.
  • In trying to analyze verses and passages, the author frequently focuses so tightly, sometimes on a single word, that he misses the meaning that is given by the context of the surrounding words and verses. Examples of this are 1 Peter 3:1, Titus 2:1-5 and Ephesians 5:22-33.
  • While seeming to be comfortable with a wife's responsibility to submit to and respect her husband, he doesn't mention obedience to husbands at all. If one is attempting to expound on "God's way", one should be careful to include the whole counsel of God. 
  • I'm not in agreement with Pastor LaPierre's assessment of the book of Judges. No book on marriage that is directed at wives would be complete without a discussion of Deborah, I guess. But that doesn't warrant a mischaracterization of what it was that judges did (they were not primarily rulers) or how that entire period should be interpreted (as the worst days of Israel's history). In my opinion, the advent of kings to the throne of Israel was the commencement of one terrible time in Israel after another. Things were better under the judges, where they sometimes experienced peace for as long as 80 years at a time. Few countries in the world can rival that record. 
  • In several places, the author asserts that God speaks to us through other people, such as people in our small group Bible studies, our pastors and to husbands through their wives. I know of no biblical support for this principle. In fact,  I can think of several places in the Bible where we are warned against this and where we are informed that the only authority through which God speaks is His Word. 
  • Over and over in this book it is stated that men have the propensity, if not the outright inclination, to be harsh, cruel and unkind. On the contrary, women are presented as meek, gentle, compassionate, etc. There is no evidence in history or in the Bible that harshness and cruelty are the in the exclusive purview of men. Women are every bit as capable and culpable when it comes to meanness. This lie is pervasive in the Church and it is time to put it to bed. The notion of women as sweet and men as tyrants needs to die a quick death. 
  • This author says that men and women are equal. Since equal means "the same as" I am at a loss as to how men and women are equal. That is like saying that apples and oranges are equal. They are not. Wives are subordinate to husbands in authority, and therefore unequal. Men and women are equal in their inability to save themselves and in their need for the Savior. Beyond that, they are not equal. 
This is not the worst book on marriage that I've ever read. There are some gems to be gleaned from within the pages. However, like the Bereans of old, one should compare every word and concept presented here against the Word of God to avoid the errors contained within.  Stay tuned for more specifics as I go through my 12 pages of handwritten notes and share the ones that I can make coherent for you.

Go on to part two of my review here
Part three can be found here

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