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Review: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller



Last year some of us gathered on balmy summer evenings to discuss Timothy and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.  It was an inspiring study book and a wonderful shared experience.

The Meaning of Marriage, based on Ephesians 5 and Genesis 2, discusses all aspects of marriage, from its meaning and purpose to the nitty gritty of daily life and the glory of sex.  Timothy and Kathy remind us that marriage, like life, is not ‘all about me’ and that our culture is completely wrong about most, if not all, aspects of it.  Instead they point us to the Bible, over and over again, to remind us that Jesus, and nothing and no one else, gives us meaning and significance; that our natural self-centeredness is the essence of sin; and that the cure for the self-centeredness and neediness that attacks our marriages is God’s salvation.

The Kellers’ foundational assumption is that marriage is glorious but hard.  They even say, “…like knowing God himself, coming to know and love your spouse is difficult and painful yet rewarding and wondrous.”

In fact, the Kellers write that the gospel teaches us about marriage, and marriage makes us rely on the gospel.  This, I would say, is the essence of the book and is why, after 25 years of marriage, I can recommend it whole-heartedly.

The Meaning of Marriage is an excellent study book, even though it has no study guide.  Each chapter contains enough solid concepts and Bible references for serious discussions and enough stories to make it real.  The Kellers also makes some surprising statements and have some startling assumptions, perfect for getting people talking and even debating. This is the kind of book that can bring a study group closer together.

While most of our study group had not experienced the difficulties that the Kellers assume all marriages have, that could be because most of us are not first-generation Christians.  What a blessing that is!  This realization also reminds us of the responsibility we have to our children to be good examples so that they will know what a good Christian marriage is like.

Our study group had also not all experienced the negative, patronizing attitudes most people apparently have towards the opposite sex.  That could be a gender thing.  The men seemed to identify more with the idea that doing things differently is not doing them as well as they could be done, whereas the women seemed to identify ‘different’ with interesting.  Or it could be a cultural thing, because I was well over 40 before I heard a Christian friend with a different background say about her husband, “Oh, isn’t that just like a man!”  Or, once again, it could be a result of most of us having grown up in nth generation Christian families.

Even though–or perhaps because–we did not identify completely with the Kellers’ assumptions, this was a thought-provoking and marriage-enhancing study.

Although this review has focused on a study group’s use of  The Meaning of Marriage, I highly recommend it to Christian individuals (married or single) and couples as well.  It will give both hope and reality to your relationships and will strengthen your understanding of the gospel, whether you are a new or long-time Christian.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays

Disclosure: I bought this book for a Bible study and am not compensated for this review in any way.


  1. A great review! My husband read “The Meaning of Marriage” a few months ago and loved it. It’s on my short list of books to read this year. Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      You’re welcome, Donna. I’m sure you will enjoy reading it and then discussing it together.

  2. Kim Stewart says:

    Annie, great review – i love finding new reads. Discovered you on Titus2Tuesday linkup. Have a great day!
    Kim Stewart

  3. Laura Pol says:

    I haven’t heard of this one before, but based on your review it sounds like a great read for married couples to read! Will have to check it out! Thanks for sharing at Booknificent Thursday! 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing your review at The Book Nook at Create With Joy! I hope this will bless those in need and those who are working on growing a more solid marriage!

  5. Really interesting about how your group’s experiences differed from the book, and yet how much the book enhanced and opened up your discussions. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week!

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