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:
Click here to purchase Marry Wisely, Marry Well: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation from Christian Book (CBD).
About the author
Ernie 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.”
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