Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel By Ray Ortlund
Let’s start with a massive understatement. People today are confused about marriage. What is it? Who is it for? Who should regulate it? Who defines it? And on and on the questions go. It is natural to expect these questions from people who do not claim the Bible as their authority. But now, more than any other time in church history, the church herself is wandering in confusion marriage. That is why I am extremely thankful for this accessible and profound book by Ray Ortlund, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel.
In the preface, Outland tells us “This is a book about the biblical view of marriage.” He answers a lot of questions for us in just a few introductory paragraphs. “Marriage is not a human invention; it is a divine revelation. It was given to us.” God invented marriage and, he argues rightly, has authority to define it. God has not given humanity the responsibility or freedom to redefine what he has defined. He gave us a defined marriage.
We have a tendency to treat marriage as a topic the Bible addresses. But, in this book, Ortlund points out, marriage is the point of the whole of scripture. “It is not as though marriage is just one theme among others in the Bible. Instead, marriage is the wraparound concept for the entire Bible, within which the other themes find their places.” (Pg. 16) What a statement! Genesis starts with a marriage between Adam and Eve. Revelation culminates with a marriage of Jesus and his bride! That’s why he says “The Bible unfolds as a complex but coherent narrative of God gathering a bride for his Son-and he found her on the wrong side of town too. What a story!”
To accomplish his stated goal for the book, Dr. Ortlund provides four chapters that cover marriage in 1) Genesis 2) The Law, Wisdom, and Prophets 3) In the New Testament 4) Our World Today. With wisdom and grace, the reader is shown the glory of the eternal romance between those bookend marriages. The Bible is coherent in it’s message and scope. Each of the four chapters reveal to us a view of marriage that is defined and clear. No ambiguity. “We therefore assert again that the biblical story is not crowded with multiple and equally legitimate models of marriage, so that its standard in unclear. Jesus himself settle the question.” (Pg. 82)
But what I loved most about this book is that I worshiped God from cover to cover. I was moved by God’s goodness over and over again. And as I I found my affections for Jordan being stirred I couldn’t help but think of the eternal romance. God putting Jordan and I together is as glorious as God putting Adam and Eve together. But my love for her and her love for me is meant to be a message to her/I and the people who know us. Our marriage is a metaphor of a marriage infinitely more glorious than ours. “The eternal romance-not, in the final analysis, the love of the couple getting married but the love of Jesus for us and our joyful deference to him- the eternal love story is why God created the universe and why God gave us marriage in Eden and why couples fall in love and get married in the world today.” (Pg. 100)
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This will be the book I use for premarital counseling and for marriage counseling. If you are married or single, get this book. I have read a countless number of books on marriage. This is my favorite.
I can’t think of a better way to end this review than with a small sample of the great things you will read: “If the Bible is telling us the truth about reality, then the universe we live in was created primarily with marital romance in mind. The heavens and the earth were created for the marriage of Adam and Eve. The new heavens and the new earth will be created for the marriage of Christ and his. bride. The whole of cosmic reality exists as the venue for the eternal honeymoon of the perfect husband with his perfect bride in marital bliss forever and ever. This is the breathtaking claim fo the Bible.”