Do you want a great, exciting, God-honoring marriage? Of course you do. The question is whether or not such a goal is actually attainable. In a day where divorce rates are almost the same for Christians and non-Christians, and where “hum-drum,” rather than “heavenly,” seems to describe many existing marriages, there seems to be little hope of achieving real marital bliss. But, hope is exactly what author Craig Groeschel wants to bring, if…if you are willing to completely reject today’s sex-saturated culture’s “hook up” approach to love and intimacy (which is really lust and physicality) and embrace God’s plan for man and woman truly becoming one, in every aspect of their relationship.
Groeschel rightly notes that the first requirement for men and women truly to become one is for each of them to know “the One.” He writes, “So if you’re looking for the one, desiring more than anything else to one day meet your one, embrace this: Jesus is the One. He’s the person you should reach out to with all your heart first. He’s the one who will complete your soul.” (17) This is critically important as so many today are looking for a human mate who will “complete [their] soul.”
Even within many struggling marriages, disillusioned partners are wondering why their supposed “soul mate” has not fulfilled the greatest longings of their hearts. The answer, as Groeschel points out, is that no human partner can fulfill the place God created for Himself – first place in our hearts and affections, as the Lover of our souls. To go wrong at this point gives one little hope of experiencing the vibrant, loving, intimate relationship with his “Two” (one’s spouse – second only to God Himself) that God intends in marriage.
Subtitled “Preparing for a Marriage That Goes the Distance,” this book is probably best suited for one who is looking, dating, or engaged and approaching marriage. Groeschel unapologetically declares (as does Scripture) that a Christ-follower should not be in a dating relationship with someone who does not know and follow Christ. He also clearly calls the reader to end dating relationships of convenience – relationships the reader knows will not lead to marriage – as they only provide opportunities for strong emotional attachment and physical involvement outside of marriage.
Groeschel shows, both biblically and practically, the physical and emotional consequences of any kind of sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage. He holds the biblical standard high, challenging those not yet married to reach for it, acknowledging that surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control brings the only hope for success. Groeschel realizes that there are many who have already settled for less than the biblical standard, involving themselves sexually with someone. For these, he holds out hope through confession and repentance, calling them to start anew toward the pursuit of God’s design.
I will encourage my older teenage son to read this book. I will certainly require those I work with for pre-marital counseling to read this book. Though written in a way that best relates to those who are considering or pursuing marriage, this book would also be a great help to married couples who realize something is lacking in their relationship and want to experience the vitality and intimacy God intends for every marriage.
This book is both strongly biblical and very practical. Though the author, at times, uses language that may be more straightforward than some are comfortable with, especially as he deals with the issue of sexual activity outside of marriage, this is a discussion that must be had. And frankly, the church has historically been so careful to avoid saying embarrassing words that we have failed to communicate God’s standards for love, intimacy and sexuality. It is no wonder that so many church youth are sexually involved and so many “Christian” marriages are ending in divorce. May we no longer be afraid to speak biblically, openly, frankly and honestly to our Christian brothers and sisters about God’s standards for pre-marriage relationships and for marriage itself. Perhaps this book will be a tool to help us toward that end, as we pursue relationships and marriages that will glorify God.
Do you know of other books that are good for those who are dating, considering marriage, and/or engaged? Share them in the comments below.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
(This book was originally released in 2007 under the title “Going All The Way.”)