Friday, January 10, 2014

No Ordinary Marriage by Tim Savage

In my years of being a Christian and involved in pastoral ministry, I have read many books on the topic of marriage. I have enjoyed and learned from many of them. But I feel confident saying that Tim Savage's new book, No Ordinary Marriage, is the best book on this topic I have ever read. That is no exaggeration. It is excellent.

But even when I write that, I have to check my own heart. You see, I started reading this book several months ago with my wife. I was awed by his premise and what he said in this book. But even his writing style was engaging. I was drawn to it. The points he made were insightful, practical, and impacted my life. I even wrote three different blog posts on parts of the book (What Does It Mean to Glorify God; A Husband's Love; and A Wife's Spirit).

But then, for some unknown reason, I put the book down with four chapters unread. I never finished it . . . until the other day. I grabbed the book again and told myself I needed to finish reading it and I quickly gobbled up the last several chapters. My point is that even the best books, read by someone who loves to read, can get ignored. My lack of desire to finish this book has nothing to do with the book. In fact, I am so glad I finished it.

His purpose in this book is to show how the union of a man and woman in marriage exhibits a divine glory that can and should sustain a marriage. In fact, he says:
"Here is the first principle of matrimony: we marry for the glory of God. When this becomes the guiding impulse of our unions, when this becomes the guiding impulse of our unions, when the glory of God becomes our primary focus and greatest love, husbands and wives will track along a trajectory that is decidedly upward . . . When two people resolve to make the glory of God the energizing principle of their marriage, they become united in an increasingly seamless union. Nothing cements a marriage like focusing on the glory of the Lord. It is the tie that binds!" (23-24).
In the individual chapters on the wife and husband, he takes an uncommon view of selflessness. We glorify when we are like Jesus, pouring ourselves out for the betterment of the other. But his applications are extremely insightful. For instance, in his chapter on "Becoming One Flesh" he makes these insightful comments:
"Have you ever witnessed one flesh in action? It is one of the great wonders of creation. When a husband redirects the river of his passions--a river which normally would flow in the direction of his own ambitions and projects--into the interests of his wife, when he takes up her life and begins to live it as though it were his own, when he cancels a trip or an appointment or a sporting engagement in order to commit more time to fulfilling her needs, when he sits down after a busy day and initiates a conversation that truly taps into her heart, when he responds to her criticisms by gathering her tenderly into his arms--how can this not but draw in a wife! 
And when a wife pours herself into the things that interest her husband, serving him at the point of his needs, redirecting the flow of her life to insure that he is receiving maximum refreshment, asking not whether he is ministering to her but only whether she is emptying her resource fully into him--how can this love not but draw in a husband! 
And when both partners pour themselves simultaneously into the other, a brand new 'community,' far more radiant and fruitful than just the sum of the two individuals, is miraculously created" (95).
I wish I could make every married couple read this book. One of the problems I have in writing about this book is that I wish I could quote page after page. It's that good. But one more should suffice in conclusion. If you want to know what message Savage tries to get across in this book, it would be this simple thought:
"When people see a Christian marriage, they ought to be overwhelmed by the incandescent splendor of God himself" (162). 
That is our aim. And when we give ourselves to our spouse for their good and for God's glory, people will witness this. May God work in our hearts as we seek this. 

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