Monday, February 6, 2017

Tying the Knot

Tying the Knot, Rob Green

As we continue our involvement in marriage ministry, we’re always on the lookout for good resources. This new book by Rob Green published by New Growth Press is a great option for marriage preparation. Green has designed a ‘pre-marital course’ for Christian couples who want to prepare well for marriage and to ensure that Jesus is at the centre of that marriage. He has produced a clear, Christ-focussed resource that a couple can work through alongside a mentor. It could be done without a mentor, but the benefit to the couple would be so much greater with a wiser, experienced person or couple alongside them (like a marrying minister). 

I think this one has risen to the near top of my favourite marriage preparation materials. It does what many don’t – combines a clear gospel truth of living with grace having Jesus as your focus and then thinks about how to apply that to various aspects of marriage.

In the introduction Green says he wants to avoid two misconceptions people have entering marriage, both of which are extremes:
  • Marriage is hard and difficult with a miserable transition period
  • Marriage is wonderful without any effort
We have encountered both viewpoints in couples and I am pleased he addresses it clearly from the beginning with the counter that marriage is given to enjoy, but it also takes commitment.

Then he states his goal – that you can have a marriage that brings pleasure to Christ and to you.   Before the first session, he wants couples to prepare four things:
  • Ensuring they have parental support for their marriage (or the support of wise older people) 
  • Set physical standards of conduct with each other
  • Testimonies of each person’s conversion to Christ
  • Two paragraphs on why they want to marry this person.

Each of these are the starting points of conversation with each other and with their mentor.   

Then follows eight sessions. The core is that Jesus must be at the centre of your life, this chapter reiterates the gospel message and how that impacts your marriage, as it is to reflect Christ and the church. From these seven different areas are addressed, all with the idea of Jesus being at the centre of each: love, problem solving, roles & expectations, communication, finances, community and intimacy. It’s comprehensive and easily readable, the chapters neither felt too long nor too brief.  

I was impressed with how he repeatedly uses scripture to bring you back to how to love one another as you love Jesus. Most chapters deal with the myths and misconceptions you will come to in marriage, and then look more realistically at what each topic looks like once you decide to let Jesus speak into them. The chapter on love and the analysis of 1 Cor 13 added a depth that was helpful and challenging. The comments on finances challenge couples to see their roles as stewards not owners, and pushed to guard against jealousy and towards sacrificial generosity. The chapter on community is a welcome and much needed reminder to couples that they need to commit to a church community to be matured, to serve and to let others care for them.

If you happen to be someone who prepares couples for marriage, you may be interested in this resource. For those who are already experienced in marriage preparation it could be something that assists you in the way you prepare couples for marriage. For those with less experience, or who are a bit more hesitant, you could use this material with confidence and it could become the main resource for your marriage preparation. There is an appendix for mentors at the end, where each chapter has a little more explanation about how to use the material well.

This is good material. We have a couple we are preparing for marriage, where we cannot meet with them in person until much after the wedding. This book seems to be a timely provision for them as they can prepare for their marriage with each other, and still have access to us if needed for assistance. It’s not the same as meeting together, but it’s a pretty good second option.

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