Reviewed by Rahab Nyambura:
In days when sex and marital issues are so screaming in all manner of ways and places which are mostly confusing, Ash seeks to lay a Biblical foundation on marriage, at the same time relating to the modern day. He therefore lays it down by focusing on God more than us human beings. As he puts it, “I want to start, continue and finish the book with God firmly at the centre.”
Interestingly the author starts with a subject I and most of us may not expect in such a titled book – grace! Given that not many people will come to marriage clean and pure but with a lot of ‘baggage’, as the writer puts it, thus we all need grace. But even with the few who will come to it in purity still need grace to accept the other party.
He challenges long-held beliefs that revolve around marriage, for instance, that marriage is ‘an answer to loneliness’, is ‘to meet my needs’ and many others. Rather, from Genesis 2 he notes that marriage was first designed that the man and woman would help each other work the garden together. The big point of marriage is to serve and glorify God. Then Ash shows that marriage is for children rather than barrenness, faithfulness rather than selfishness and order rather than chaos. These three line up under the big goal of service of God. With many ‘tips’ and ‘guidelines’ on making a marriage successful being given today (like good communication, how good sex is, how well to care for each other), as much as they may be helpful, they are not the final say but lives dedicated to God in service are.
His motto of “sex in the service of God” was very interesting to me. He advises that sex should not be seen as an end to itself, held too high or too low but that it should be nurtured to flow in service because around sex there is friendship and companionship. He is also careful to focus on a controversial part of marriage in the current day where men seem to have lost their leadership role and women want to be independent. He therefore says the role of the man is to lead by serving, loving and caring and the woman’s is submission.
“Faithfulness is the heart of marriage because it is the heart of God” is a strong statement that had a great impact on me. Rather than how the world puts it that it’s all about love, and so the question of ‘love fading’ comes up! Do we end up in divorce all the time we feel there’s no more love? Every married couple is joined by God at the point they make the promise and not in consummation, and so they have Him as their witness. It is a matter therefore of faithfulness or better put faithful or steadfast love like God’s love for His people.
He ends the book with a remarkable conclusion: the Greatest Invitation!
“Every human being is invited to be married in the end and not only to be married, but to be blissfully married in the marriage to beat all marriages. Let us all therefore look up to that wedding day; Rev 19:7”.
His style of writing is very helpful in that he gives a case study at the beginning of each chapter and some reflections at the end of each chapter. Ash addresses all groups of people at whatever point of life they are at: singles, engaged, married and even one on singlehood for life. All these and other aspects in this book have greatly changed my perspective on marriage.
Married for God is a thought-provoking, exciting and really helpful book. It is a book I highly recommend to all singles, those engaged and those married as we look at how we can live out marriage for God and not for our selfish ambitions.