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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review

When Sinners Say "I Do"
Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage

Dave Harvey


Book Review by Hayden Norris

I read a lot. I love to read. One of the challenges that I have is that I must, as a pastor, read widely and not just read the ‘stuff’ that interests me. In order to help me in this endeavor I have created a reading list that breaks my reading into categories so as not to read too much in one area and not enough in another area.

One of the areas I have purposed to read is in the category of “Marriage books”, but it has become one of my least favorite areas. This is not because I do not want to grow in my marriage; I do, but because most books on marriage are written with ladies in mind. Inevitable they turn into a book on “How to Change Your Husband” or “How to Submit to Your Lazy Husband” or some other variation on this theme. I know that I am ‘painting with a broad brush’ but next time you are in a Borders or Barnes & Nobles, go to the section on marriage and read the jacket covers and you will see what I mean.

When Sinners Say I Do is a much different book because it is actually a book written for BOTH the husband and the wife in the marriage. This book gets down to the root issue of all marital conflict, which is the fact that there are two sinners involved in the marriage. This sounds like a simplistic and obvious statement, but let this thought sink in for a second. If you are married you are married to a sinner, which is probably not a revelation to you, BUT you yourself are a great sinner. Actually, until you can say along with Paul that you are the greatest sinner that you know (1 Tim. 1:15) no progress can be made in your marriage.

The beauty of this book is that it does not let the reader veer too far from this basic truth. The truth of how your personal sin affects the relationship that you have with your spouse. On page 16 Dave Harvey sets the tone and direction of the book with this profound statement:

When sin becomes bitter marriage becomes sweet. When the sin we bring to marriage becomes real to us, then the gospel becomes vital and marriage becomes sweet.
This is the main message of the book, and this truth is what is expounded upon through the remaining pages.

When Sinners Say I Do proclaims this powerful, simple and profound message and does not allow the reader to shirk this truth. Dave Harvey weaves biblical truth, vivid stories and personal application into a very readable book that is a must-read for every couple and would-be couple. As a matter of fact, any couple that asks me to officiate at their wedding will have to go through this book and report back to me before the wedding day.

His chapter titles were also very helpful and entertaining. The chapter on sex, Chapter 9, is titled “Concerning Sex” and opens with this very funny story:

I don’t remember much about my neighborhood Dairy Queen… except THE SIGN. It hung provocatively above the counter, arresting the attention of every teenage boy in search of a Blizzard. Some signs direct, others warn, still others prohibit certain actions, but the headline on this sign was a tractor beam for our attention. It read “CONCERNING SEX.” Even gliding past it could melt the ice cream of any adolescent lad.

But the headline was just an attention-getter. The sign wasn’t about sex at all. The small print was nothing but an etiquette list for customers. Clever. Yet somehow, every time I came in, I still thought that sign might unlock some secret “CONCERNING SEX.” Maybe they’ve added new information. So I would read it again. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if I’d want to learn about sex in a place where everything they sell is frozen. But the point couldn’t be more clear: Sex commands attention. (pgs 151-152)
This is the style that the whole book is written in which makes it entertaining to read and engaging in its application.

If there is one criticism that I would have is that Mr. Harvey did not include the “Let’s Talk” section that was found in Chapter 9 throughout the whole book. This section was extremely helpful and the small group that I read this book with yearned for these thought provoking questions throughout the whole book.

Let me end this review with this challenge for every married couple to buy this book and read it together, pausing to discuss the content as they go along. You will not be disappointed! Ladies, if your husband is not a reader, read it with him aloud. A couple in my Bible study did this and benefited greatly from the book’s insight.

Hayden Norris is associate pastor at Mt. Morris Community Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan.

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