In Married for God, Christopher Ash defends God’s definition of marriage and discusses how marriage is to be used to fulfill the mission of God. This book is not about communication techniques or spousal personality compatibility but centers upon the purposes that God intends marriage to accomplish. The motto that Ash gives to his message is “sex in the service of God” which is a simplified form to describe all the fullness, benefits, and fruit that comes from marriage that focuses on serving and pleasing God. Instead of Western culture’s belief that marriage is for personal fulfillment, God intends for marriage to display His glory and illustrate His love for His people. In Genesis, God had commissioned Adam and Eve to be joined together and procreate more steward-gardeners to tend the earth. As such, marriage is not a private arrangement between two people who simply enjoy each other’s company and forsake all other obligations. Rather, marriage is God’s instituted means of establishing His kingdom on earth and married couples are to be faithful to this calling. The book explores several tough topics such as sex, children, and singleness which Ash discusses with scriptural support, pastoral counsel, and practical advice. Moreover, each chapter ends with probing questions suitable for group and individual reflection.
There is one chapter in the book in which I found quite challenging to digest. In chapter six, Ash states that marriage is an institution ordained by God since creation and that all marriages, whether Christian or not, have the same boundaries and shape (pg. 106). I agree that marriage is God’s institution and marriages between non-believing parties are to also follow God’s pattern for marriage as found in the Bible. In that sense, there is certainly no difference between Christian and non-Christian marriages. However, I wonder whether non-Christians would agree that all the same boundaries that Christian marriages uphold apply to them. One example is the oath-keeping aspect in a marriage. Civil weddings do not even require oaths anymore and bear little semblance to the covenantal promises whether verbalized or not in a wedding between two Christians. If Christian lovers commit themselves to each other and to serve God publicly, what are two unbelievers committing themselves to and what are they bound by? I would argue that marriages between believers carry much greater spiritual significance and implications. Although I agree with Ash that marriage is God’s instrument to realize society’s stability and prosperity, I hesitate to limit Christian marriages to the same shape and boundaries of two non-believers who may not care at all what the Bible says about marriage.
I would recommend this book to everyone and especially to those preparing to enter into marriage. The author’s concise defence of marriage is admirable and much needed in today’s culture which increasingly deviates from God’s intent for marriage. The arguments put forth are straightforward and filled with pastoral wisdom bringing clarity in the midst of society’s twisted understanding of marriage. Moreover, Ash also reminds readers that those who are single or are unable to have children should not despair thinking that they have somehow missed God’s purpose for them. Marriage is neither what earns one’s standing before God nor the only means by which one can serve God. Rather, both singles and couples are to faithfully serve in whatever circumstances that God has placed them in. Those who God has put together, God’s requirements are to commit every aspect of their marriages to bring honour, glory, and praise to the Bridegroom who will one day return to wed His Bride.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.