Sunday, 12 March 2017

Two marriage books by Chandler and Chan

While waiting for some conference audio to drop I decided to look into my christian audio account to see what I had to listen to in the car. Every month they give away a book for free and every month I click on the link and then forget about it (except about two or three years ago they gave away the ESV - that was gold). I saw that I had two books on marriage in my library, and You and Me Forever was physically sitting on my bedside table waiting for me to read. So I thought it would be a good time to hear from these guys on marriage. At the end of listening to both I was surprised by the contrast it evoked in me.

The Mingling of Souls: God's Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption

This book was written by both Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson. While the book is written in Chandler's voice with the "I" being Matt's pronoun, the book was read by Jared, I thought that was strange, but not a biggy. 

Like To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain, I assume this book was first a sermon series, this time on Song of Songs and then turned into a book. The last time I listened to a sermon series on Song of Songs was from Driscoll and I had only just gotten married. I wrote some comments about it under this post. Like that series, I thought this was also a little forced on the text. 

I think Song of Songs is kinda a difficult book to teach on, which I assume is why you probably haven't done a whole series on it at your church. Chandler moved through Song of Songs chronologically while also touching on relationship advice chronologically. By this, I mean the first bit is about seeking out a partner, the next is about courting then dating, then marriage and at the end it is how you grow old together as a couple and Chandler follows these stages in order in Songs of Songs. This is all kinda nice, but I am not sure that is the model of Song of Songs, it felt a little artificial in its structure. The other issue I had with this, is if this is about Solomon and his wife, the elephant in the room is then what do you do with the fact that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). How did Solomon grow old well in his marriage? What do we do with this advice from this guy? This was never mentioned.

Don't get me wrong, this had lots off good helpful advice. Chandler knows his audience and he spoke directly to me and made me reminisce about the time I was courting my wife now. I would have liked to of listened to this about 15 years ago for some of his early stage advice about relationships. Chandler was honest with his reader about marriage and his personal issues and that allowed me to think honestly about my own issues. 

This audio book was probably worth what I paid for it (free) and the six and a half hours of time it takes to listen to it.

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity

This book was written by Francis and Lisa Chan. They also both read the audio book which was great. You can tell, just by their voice, how excited they are to tell you what they think. I really appreciated that.

While the Mingling of Souls was focused on couple's looking inwards to their relationship, this book was kinda the opposite. For a marriage book it had counterintuitive advice, was way more focused outwards towards God and his mission and was not really "romantic" in the sense of having date nights and buying flowers. In short, this is a Christian marriage book. 

Francis knows he is going to heaven and can't wait for it to happen. Everything else he says hangs on this point. He wants Christians to live their whole life in light of this. Since heaven is a permanent place, we should be viewing our time here like camping: everything is in a state of flux and disposable, even our marriages will not last in heaven.

Francis says us in the west focus too much on luxury and safety for us and our children at the expense of furthering God's kingdom. Francis says God has promised to give his children food and clothes, although the food might not be expensive meat and the cloths may not fit right or be in style. Our heavenly father will look after us, but seem to get caught up with other influences and try to settle down, buy the big house and protect our children. Instead we should be trusting God more seriously with our money and His mission. We should be wanting trials to come our children's' way because trials is what makes people strong in their faith. There is even a chapter which is kinda like Multiply for couples (they even reference it twice) in that it asks how are you going about using your marriage to help make disciples of Jesus.

At the end of each chapter Lisa read a bit to make the whole thing more practical and then there were some questions they ask in how you are going to respond to this chapter. They point out that in the west we are like an obese man who is now too fat to feed himself - we are big on learning and hearing things, but to our detriment as we don't put it into practice.

The downside to audio books is that you can't just flick back to a section, which is why I am glad I have bought this book. It is worth the 7 hours of your time, and even better if you do it as a couple. I will probably read this with my wife sometime this year.


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