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Book Review – Marry Wisely, Marry Well

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Book Review – Marry Wisely, Marry Well

A cursory glance at the relationship section in any Christian bookstore reveals that there is a great interest in the topic of relationships. Many of these books are designed to help marriages that are in trouble or are experiencing some sort of difficulty. There ate generally few books which prepare a young person for marriage. Those that do tackle this topic are generally promoting some sort of methodology which promises to be “the Biblical method”. Marry Wisely, Marry Well by Ernie Baker is a different sort of book. The main principle running throughout the book is to pursue wisdom by fearing the Lord above a specific method.

Baker begins by laying a foundation for wisdom in the person of Christ. He helps the reader to see his or her attractions and encourages us to re-prioritize those things which capture our hearts around Christ. Baker gives many examples. For instance, a common scenario posed by Baker is one in which a woman marries a man because he was an assertive male; and divorces him because he was a domineering husband. Looking at this example, he demonstrates that her affections were set upon the wrong thing. Her heart was motivated by its affections and in doing so she lusted for a strong man who would protect her. Her affections were disordered and she created an idol out of her feelings of security. To be fair, Baker doesn’t say that the desire for a strong husband is wrong, but when it becomes the driving motivation and that desire becomes the “ruling desire of your heart” then your affections are fundamentally disordered. The same could be said for marrying a person simply because they provide a rich social life, are a romantic, or athletic. Whatever the desire is, it must be ruled by Christ. When it is not, we forsake wisdom for things which will absolutely disappoint.

The following chapters are focused on living as a single person. In here, Baker emphasizes the priority of being involved in a church and  reorients the reader’s mind toward a proper view of sexuality. In here, Baker discusses the role of sexuality within the life of the single person and counters the cultural myth that sex is something that we need for fulfillment. In this he points to Christ as “the most fully human person who has ever lived” and yet was celibate. While emphasizing that sex is a gift from God and a pleasure which He has given us for our enjoyment, sex in itself cannot meet the desire for fulfillment that we have. Sex, like all other things must be oriented toward Christ. Baker reminds us to keep an eternal perspective on marriage and points out that while we remain married here, there will be a time when the office of marriage is fulfilled in Christ and no longer binds men and women together.

Using Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, Baker continues by listing key ingredients for a wise relationship. Among these are kindness, compassion, patience, and other fruit which scripture lists as being the mark of the believer. The following chapters help the reader to identify when they are ready for marriage and what to look for in yourself to know that you are ready. He end the book by examining various methodologies for preparing for marriage such as betrothal, courtship, traditional dating, and cohabitation. In each of these he carefully examines where each methodology adds to or takes away from Biblical wisdom. While not prescribing a methodology he states that his belief is that the best model would lie somewhere between traditional dating and courtship/biblical dating but “leaning toward courtship”. His only warning when assessing how this methodology can add to or take away from scripture is if it is promoted as the only biblical way. The reason for this, he says, is because it starts the process of promoting a methodology over wisdom. He endorses this not because it is the  ” only biblical way” but because it involves parental involvement and encourages purity. Finally, Baker gives a glimpse of what a marriage looks like when biblical wisdom is applied to the preparation for marriage. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but is one which honors Christ.

I really appreciate the way in which Baker is committed to biblical wisdom over methodologies. While I am a strong supporter of courtship I recognize that scripture does not spell it out as nicely as we wish it would. This is a good thing. It confronts our desire to be able to cling on to something and say that we have done it. While I am not against methodologies in general, I agree with the author that we must not use a methodology as a means to promote self righteousness or to be closed off to what scripture might say that doesn’t fit quite as neatly with an ideology. The general thrust of the book is to seek wisdom in Christ and through scripture and to prepare yourself as an individual who is characterized by the fruit of the spirit. Seeking these things and in yourself will form a strong foundation that will weather the many storms that a marriage relationship will bring your way. This book would be an excellent addition to a homeschooling character study since a lot of homeschooling is about building strong character in children. Parents and young adults alike will benefit from Baker’s biblical approach and parental wisdom. Marry Wisely, Marry Well is a top-notch book on the topic of preparing for marriage and should read by anyone who will be facing these life decisions in the near future.

Where to buy Marry Wisely, Marry Well:

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About the author

ebakerErnie Baker (M.Div., D.Min.) is Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College and Seminary in Southern California. He served as a pastor for 25 years, is a certified conciliator with The Institute for Christian Conciliation, and is a Fellow with The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). Ernie and his wife Rose have six children and seven grandchildren. Along with discipling his own children to make a wise choice of a spouse and to be ready for marriage, Ernie has had extensive involvement in premarital and relationship counseling with hundreds of individuals and couples.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shepherd Press in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

7 thoughts on “Book Review – Marry Wisely, Marry Well

  1. Dahlia

    I’m confused by the idea of courtship. I have a close friend who believes that is the only way to find a husband and even though I love her I don’t like how angry she gets about other ways. Really I can’t disagree with anything she says about it being a better way. But she comes across as so judgemental and angry at anyone who would dare do it any other way. I am dating now. I’m 26 and this is the first time and we are dating with the intention of getting married early spring. We are never alone. Ever. My parents aren’t very involved and neither are his but we still make sure to have them around as much as possible. I won’t lie and say there isn’t a physical desire between us but we keep it real by having good friends and pastors who are always watching out for us. Last week after five months of dating we held hands. It was very nice. My friend says it is wrong to hold hands because I’m giving my heart away. I see it different. When I told him that I will be his bride I gave my heart to him. It isn’t a shameful or ugly thing to hold hands. My friend is not coming around as often even though I keep inviting her. She’s courting now and neither one of them want me to corrupt their relationship . Not because of any horrible sin but because we hold hands and call it dating instead of courtship. Why is this? I’m really hurting if you couldn’t tell. We both love Jesus but I’m just not good enough for her now. I’m going to buy this book because I’m hoping it would shed some light on why I’m seen as so bad. She is like how you described the one who sees it as the only biblical way. I know there are many things I need to work on. I’m not patient. I’m inpatient to a fault. But my future husband knows this about me and is willing to marry me even with my blemishes. Jesus did that for me too. I want my friend to love me like that.

    • Dahlia, I’m sorry about your experience. I think anytime we adopt a methodology we run the risk of elevating the methodology above scripture itself. This is what the author was warning against. We need to pursue wisdom over methodology. The convenient thing about methodologies is they give us something to grasp onto and to be able to say we did it. When truly it is God who is at work in us. I would caution against allowing bitterness to grow in you Dahlia. Remember that self-righteousness is a sin and your friend may not realize the stronghold it has on her. Instead of being bitter, pray for her. Serve her. Show her that grace overcomes and that it loves, serves, and prays despite the hurt she is causing. If you don’t win her over you are still right before God. You described reasonable precautions and said you have them in place – good! Remember that you are the Lord’s servant and not man’s so don’t fear people and their opinions. Lastly I would point out that her method is not sin and very well may be wise. Keep that separate from her pride. The pride is wrong but examine her beliefs against scripture and give considerable weight to her beliefs that are scriptural. We’re praying for you.

      • Dahlia

        Thank you so much! I try not to judge her too harshly because I’ve been there myself! For me it was the way that I dressed. I was modest, still am, and everyone else was immodest. I took so much pride in that. I would actually look for people who did not have my standards so I could feel better about myself. So I can’t look down on her now for something that I was doing just a few years ago. But my heart aches and I want her friendship back. I just bought the book. I think we are doing pretty good avoiding temptation and working on our own character. But there is so much to learn that I did not know yet.

  2. Bill Parker

    You said, ” In here, Baker discusses the role of sexuality within the life of the single person and counters the cultural myth that sex is something that we need for fulfillment.”

    I completely disagree! This myth is why so many marriages fall apart. She doesn’t take his sexuality seriously and he’s left wondering if he is ever going to be sexually fulfilled and starts longing for that and looking elsewhere. This is why we have pornography and prostitution because Christianity continues to teach girls that sex is optional. Sex isn’t optional. If you sign up for marriage then you are agreeing to all the benefits. This thinking turns young ladies into prudes who are afraid to bring a little excitement to the marriage. Seriously! How would women feel if their husbands all of a sudden stopped hugging them or stopped holding their hand? They would throw a fit and we all know it. But they do the same thing to us by not giving themselves fully to us.

    The rest I agree with.

    Bill

    • Hello Bill. Perhaps you misunderstood what I was saying. I may not have been very clear. The statement regarding sex as a necessity is in reference to premarital or sex outside of its designed context. Certainly sex within marriage is vital to the marriage. Both I and the author would affirm that.

      I do want to address three other things if you are willing to endure my comments. First, pornography and prostitution are not acceptable under any circumstances. I really believe that. Regardless of how much hurt there is, how strong urge for sexual release is, or how bad you are longing for acceptance, these are evil avenues to pursue and are harmful. They are harmful to a marriage, to the person participating in it, and to the ladies who are involved in them (often against their will). Pornography has got to end.

      Secondly, keep in mind that although this is generally a gender dominated issue, there are also men who are failing to meet their wife’s needs. This goes well beyond the physical act although there are some men (a growing number) who are withholding. This also applies to the deeper mysteries of sex. If a man is meeting his wife’s needs physically but mentally is treating her as an object for his own satisfaction then he has dehumanized the act. This is a huge problem today. Sex is physically fulfilling but it also has power to bind souls together and is a beautiful image of God’s love for his people. We need to protect that.

      Lastly, if this is a personal experience then please consider serving your wife selflessly as a response. Don’t allow bitterness to grow but pray for her, love her, and consider the log that we all have in our own eyes before examining the speck in hers. I know the offence may not feel like a speck, but in light of our own logs which nailed Christ to the cross they are a mere speck.

      Bill I’m praying for you. If you are not already involved in a local church please find one.

      • Bill Parker

        Aaron you are right. It looks like I missed that. I wasn’t reading it closely enough. I am now getting back into a church after a very bitter divorce. It was for the reasons mentioned. I still stand by most of my points and I agree that pornography is a bad reaction but the truth is that it is a very real reaction. Wrong?yes. sinful? Yes. But when a man is not getting what he needs it is the first place many of us turn. At least a fantasy world has something to offer to cover the hurt. Strip clubs follow because that’s where we can see it in the flesh. Then we just start an affair or start paying for it because at least then our body can rest. Thank you for your words. You know through this whole turmoil you are the first person to speak frankly to me and I don’t even know you. Where is my accountability? That was supposed to be my wife and church.

  3. Chris Sellers

    There are very few rules in scripture about pre-marital relationships. It sounds like this book might hit the nail on the head.

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