Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Intimate Allies

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This week, Ask Anne will be a review of a great marriage book entitled, "Intimate Allies" by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.  If you are interested in purchasing the book, click here.


Intimate Allies is a fantastic book on the theology of marriage.  Allender and Longman tackle the issue of what marriage is all about: Glorifying God.  This book is not a how to in your marriage or a ten step process, but rather it is a book to help you think about your marriage differently.  This book looks at the Biblical roles of husbands and wives and what we can do to work together in our marriage.  When two people come together, the authors point out, they are coming together as two sinners in an imperfect union.  We must learn how to live together in this imperfect union and how we can best achieve the deepest level of intimacy possible as Christian spouses.

What do you find the most helpful about this book:

This book is all about giving you, as a Christian spouse, a different perspective on your marriage.  They define marriage as, "requiring a radical commitment to love our spouses as they are, while longing for them to become what they are not yet.  Every marriage moves either toward enhancing one another's glory or toward degrading each other."  They point out the sole purpose of marriage is to glorify God.  In our marriages, we are either bringing glory to God or we are not.  That is a profound statement that is rather sobering to think about.

After defining marriage and how two sinners come together to bring glory to God, the authors move on to what it means to become intimate allies in this crazy world.  Allender and Logman write, "Human beings are glorious creatures of God as well as ugly sinners.  Both truths need to be fully grasped as a man and a woman enter into the marriage relationship.  These two truths give a husband and a wife the basis for expectation and hope as they act in the present, deal with the past and look forward to their future together."  It is through this idea of expectations the authors set the tone for how we must accept one another and offer grace in our marriage relationships.

What do clients find most helpful about the book:

One facet of the book that clients find very helpful is the thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.  I often encourage my clients to read this book together as a couple, especially if they are looking for ways to reconnect or deepen their relationship.  By reading the text together and engaging in meaningful conversations, I have seen many couples begin to feel that sense of intimacy the book talks about.

I also think that most of my clients have found the idea of seeing their spouse the way the Lord sees them is incredibly helpful.  So the next time their spouse acts selfishly or thoughtlessly, they try to see that as their sinful nature instead of taking it personally.  This allows them to be more gracious, because the hope is they quickly remember they are just as selfish or thoughtless because they are equally sinful.

Favorite quote:

"A successful marriage is one in which two broken and forgiving people stay committed to one another in a sacrificial relationship in the face of life's chaos."

"Jesus is the one who gives us the grace that allows us to acknowledge our own sins and also forgive the sins of ours spouses."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Christian Marriage Support

Q. I have been married to a wonderful man for several years now.  As our marriage continues to grow and evolve I want to make sure I do whatever I can to be the best spouse possible.  As a Christian what can I do to best support my spouse and make my marriage glorify God?

A.  What a wonderful question.  If more spouses would ask this question the state of marriage in our country would vastly improve.  You also mention a key point about bringing glory to God that I want to address. First though, let's start with some practical things you can do to support your spouse.   

Open, healthy communication is key to any marriage. The way we speak to one another and how we speak to one another can set the tone for a healthy marriage.  Scripture says in Proverbs 18:2 "Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions."  We should really work to understand one another and work to see their perspective.  When you can see where your spouse is coming from and seek to understand them, you are more likely to have a productive conversation.  It is not about being right or airing your own opinion; rather it is about seeking understanding through open communication.  Scripture also implores us to use our mouths to build one another up.  Seek to live out Ephesians 4:29 that says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Secondly, you should examine your expectations for marriage.  In your question you asked what you could do to best glorify God in your marriage.  The best thing you can do to glorify God is to love your spouse unconditionally.  In order to do this, you must have correct expectations about your spouse.  We are all sinful people who are imperfect, ugly sinners according to Genesis 3. We will hurt one another and we will let each other down due to sinful hearts and sinful desires.  If we expect that we are married to an imperfect person will be more likely to  not take things personally.  

Because of this sin in our lives, it is very important for us to take a look inward before we seek to correct or judge our spouse.  In Matthew 7:3-5, we see Jesus talking about taking the plank out of your own eye before you judge that of our brother.  This is also true for us when it comes to our Christian spouse.  Often times the conflict that we feel in our marriage is more about sin in our own life and less about the sin of our spouse.  

But if you have examined your own life and find that you need at address an issue with your spouse, make sure to extend grace to him.  Ephesians 4:32 goes onto say, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  The best possible way to show someone the glory of God is by forgiving one another just as he forgave us.  Marriage is the best possible picture to see this glory.  By continually loving your spouse and extending that grace to him, you continually show the love of Christ to others.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts."

Let me commend you on a great question.  Marriage in the United States in under attack.  We need to be working to treat marriage as the sacred covenant that it is.  For more information on past blogs pertaining to marriage click here.  Also, if you are interested in where your marriage stands and if you guys might be in need of marriage help, click here to take a short quiz.  Press on in your marriage and keep pursing the Lord together.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
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