This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence, John Piper

I recently came into my 26th year of life on this earth. And in those 26 years, I still haven’t found the chance to get married. So, you may be wondering why I read a book called “This Momentary Marriage”? Well two reasons: 1) it was recommended to me and 2) I am always looking to the future, preparing myself as much as I can for that day. I’m not obsessed with it; in fact, I think this is the first book on marriage that I’ve read in a long time. But it is something that I desire and occasionally think about.

I think a lot of single people my age have a lofty idea of marriage and what it will be like. John Piper has this uncanny way of demolishing whatever your selfish, preconceived notions of marriage (any subject really) was and points you to the glory of God. What marriage very simply is then, is an earthly covenant that plays out a drama meant to showcase what eternity will someday be like. To explain this even further, the “drama” is the love that Christ will have for His people (the Church) forever and ever and ever.  So, too, is the marriage covenant meant to reflect this love, as seen in Ephesians 5:25 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Perhaps this quote from the book can be a little more clear than I have been: “In other words, marriage was designed by God, most deeply and most importantly, to be a parable or a drama of the way Christ loves his church and the way he calls the church to love him” (Piper, 127). The title suggests another aspect of this book: that marriage is not to be “the ultimate” in our lives. Indeed, while it is a gift from God, an institution designed by God, and a picture of Jesus’ love for the Church, it is merely temporary. There will be no unions in eternity and so in this way, it is temporary.

Dr. Piper breaks the book down as such:

1) Chapters 1-2: Marriage is the doing of God and the display of God (especially His grace)

2) Chapter 3: Marriage is based on grace (vertical through Christ’s death on the cross and horizontal from husband to wife, wife to husband)

3) Chapters 4-5: Grace empowers husbands and wives to keep the covenant by means of forgiveness, and pursuit of conformity to Christ in the marriage covenant.

4) Chapters 6-8: What it means for the married man to be the “head” of the home, what it means to be “submissive”

5) Chapters 9-10: Singleness

6) Chapter 11: Faith and sex in marriage

7) Chapters 12-13: Childrearing in marriage

8) Chapters 14-15: Views on divorce

I really appreciated Dr. Piper’s two chapters on singleness in a book on marriage. What he said is that married people should embrace singles because we are the Church of Jesus; singles should embrace married people because we are a family. We are to mutually be apart of each others lives. This resonates particularly true with me because I often go to a married couples (who are not my parents) house for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter. He also provided wisdom that this can be a God-honoring and fruitful times in our life. And I wholeheartedly agree: I have time to spend reading and doing other things that I will have to sacrifice someday for more important things.

Most importantly, what this book has taught me is that marriage is a heady institution. What I mean is it is bred into us that this is just “what you do” when you get older. And I think from the callous attitude we sometimes treat marriage with, we tend to become numb to how glorious and how magnificent it is. Again, I’m not worshipping the institution (after all: it is only temporary) or even my desire to get married, but marriage is the coming together of two fallen people who are suppose to show the love of Christ not only to each other, but to people around them and their children. That sounds easy, but I can only imagine it is very, very difficult. It is no wonder that the divorce rate is so high in our own country. Marriage is not to fulfill selfish desires, but it is suppose to magnify the glory of God. And in order to do that, you have to empty yourself of that kind of selfishness that humans possess. After reading this book, I thought to myself, “wow, this sounds hard.” But not impossible.

I highly recommend this book if you are considering marriage, or if you are married.

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