West London Alliance Church

Three Books on Marriage


One of my early reads for 2017 is a book on marriage by Ray Ortlund. Ortlund is the lead Pastor of Immanuel Nashville and is also a regional director in the Acts29 Network and serves on the council of The Gospel Coalition. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and served as Associate Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from 1989-1998. The book on marriage I just finished reading is called Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel.

Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel is part of an interesting new series by Crossway Books, Short Studies in Biblical Theology, that “is designed to help readers see the whole Bible as a unified story culminating in Jesus Christ” by tracing an important topic through the whole Bible. The topic Ortlund follows the scriptures is, of course marriage. It is an excellent book which I highly recommend. One of its strengths is the way in which Ortlund uncovers and amplifies the true beauty of marriage. He does this with theological rigor as he evaluates how the whole Bible teaches us about marriage. It is really good stuff.

But this post isn’t about just one book on marriage, it’s about three. In fact these are the three best books on marriage I have read and recommend all of them to you. I thought I would bring these three books on marriage to your attention because I think there would be a significant benefit in reading them as a package. The differences in the books make them, in my opinion, great companions to each other. Their differences are in regard to the main lenses with which the authors look at marriage.

Here are the three excellent books: Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund, When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey, and The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. And here are the three corresponding lenses through which an understanding of marriage is pursued: the Bible, the gospel, and the culture.

Ortlund uncovers marriage from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament right through to Revelation in the New Testament. The lens he uses is the whole Bible. Harvey, in When Sinners Say “I Do”, draws his insights primarily from marriage in light of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In The Meaning of Marriage Tim Keller helps us to see marriage in contrast to the culture we live in.

Now, it’s very important to note that the lenses the authors employ are not exclusive to each book. Ortlund’s book is about the marriage and the gospel because it is about marriage in the Bible. And Ortlund makes references to our current culture throughout the book. Similarly, Harvey’s book is both biblical and culturally relevant because the gospel is biblical and culturally relevant. And Keller’s book does not lack a strong, biblical-gospel backbone. However, the lens designations I have given the books help emphasize the differences in the books. And it’s these differences which I believe make this group of books a true triple threat when it comes to learning and loving God’s institution of marriage.

It would be great if you read one of these. Even better if you read all three.

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