Many of us want to get married, but not many of us stop and ask ourselves why, or even how we should go about it. Marriage is an intrinsically precious gift God has given mankind, so doesn't it stand to reason we should treat it as such in the search for it? Gary Thomas leaves no stone unturned and no question unasked in this book. I even dare to say - cast all other books on dating and romantic relationships aside. This is the one.
I have to say I was impressed by Gary Thomas' approach to this topic. The entire book is based on the concept found in Matthew 6:33 - "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." It was objective and to the point, and as I have had many questions over the years about the subject of dating, courtship, relationships, waiting, etc. I found it relieving and inspiring to see that the author did not shy away from answering the tough questions. Gary also didn't pamper or play to singles, which was refreshing. So many books seem to pat singles on the head these days and reassure them that "God has a plan". Many others praise singleness loudly so that those who are unmarried don't feel bad for not having a significant other. This book brings the entire argument down to the simplicity of Scripture:
"Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 7:39 clearly left the choice of marriage up to us in the clearest, most explicit of terms: "She is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord"... Scripture thus tells us that it is our choice whether we want to get married and who we want to marry. This isn't a denial of God's providence, nor does it preclude God leading two people together in certain cases. Rather, it's the Bible's way of saying that while marriage is really important, it's also something God lets us decide whether we want to be participants in, and who we want to be participants with. God has given you an awesome responsibility, so choose wisely. (pg. 63)
Some of the chief constructive insights I took away from this read were the dangers of infatuation, the myth of finding "the one" exposed, the differences between passive and active waiting, what character traits, flaws and backgrounds of a person will either benefit or detriment a marriage, and the importance of family ties (taking your future family into account when choosing whom to marry is of utmost importance). However the book also goes very deep into some of the horror stories of bad marriages that evolved out of poor choices or as a result of sordid pasts. Some of the chapters gave me chills of dread, and in a couple of the final chapters that deal with rough pasts and addictions, the sexual references are very high and would be disturbing for unprepared readers. Even so, the wisdom therein is still well worth taking into account.
I all but devoured this book. The writing style is easy to pick up, and though some may find Gary's blunt opinions offensive, I found it challenging and motivating. On the whole, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Every person considering marriage should read it. It not only teaches you how to view marriage and begin the search for a spouse, it gives you valuable insight and constructive criticism on what you ought to be doing about yourself. You may want to be married, but are you ready for it? The things you are looking for in a spouse, do you have? Most importantly, why do you want to get married?
Let me give you [the worst] nightmare: a marriage without a mission, a life without purpose, a relationship without any end beyond its own "happiness". Matthew 6:33, seeking first the kingdom of God, will breathe life into any marriage and remains, I am convinced, the single best reason for two people to join their futures together. Such couples aren't lost in simply pursuing a pleasant five or six decades; they are determined to live a life with eternal impact. (pg. 248)