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The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God

4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  6,746 ratings  ·  653 reviews
Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of the forthcoming Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller with his wife of 36 years, delivers The Meaning of Marriage, an extraordinarily insightful look at the keys to happiness in marriage that will inspire Christians, skeptics, singles, long-time married couples, and those about to be engaged.


Modern cul
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Dutton Adult (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Jr Forasteros
Shortly after I posted my review of Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage, which failed as a book on marriage, many sympathetic to Driscoll told me to get the forthcoming The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. Tim is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the island of Manhattan. He’s also a New Calvinist and a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, which apparently believes you have to be Complementarian to be a real Christian. To say I was nervous to dive in would be an understatement, but dive in ...more
Chuck Bonadies
Let me begin with a confession: I'm not a big fan of books on marriage. Not that I don't think that marriage is important. On the contrary, it is ordained of God. My contention is that most modern books on marriage make little contribution to the subject (other than saying things in a slightly different manner than the others)and almost all of them ascribe to the 'mutual needs fallacy' ("If you respect him, he will love you. And the reason she doesn't respect you is because you are not loving he ...more
Eric Molicki
Jan 05, 2012 Eric Molicki rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Shelves: marriage
Eric to Alice: Guess what?
Alice: What?
Eric: We've been doing this marriage thing WRONG for the past 20 years!!
Alice: Keller's book was that good, huh?
Eric: Yup.

Has instantly become the first priority of my premarital and marital required reading lists. I have already planned to re-read it with Alice in the coming 3 months. I'm sooo excited to love my bride in a way that is richer and more glorious than anything we have tasted thus far. I actually leave the book so much more encouraged about what
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logdog
[Incomplete]

In the introduction, Tim describes he and his wife Kathy, in the early days of their courtship, gradually realizing "that the other was a rare fit for [their] hearts." They shared, he says, the "secret thread" that C.S. Lewis says makes people good friends: "You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words:...Are not all lifelong friend
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Megan
Promising as this book seems to be, "The Meaning of Marriage" turns out to be an overly general, repetitive, and flawed treatment of marriage.

At first, I loved the book. Keller starts with an insightful analysis of the motives behind marriage (or the lack thereof) in contemporary America. Unlike previous generations, this generation sees marriage, if achieved, as 'self-realization': a relationship in which both partners are ideal, in need of no character development, and thus able to provide ce
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Erin
A "single person's review"... Read it!!
It's not just because of the marriage insights. [But those are great!] Great reminders and challenges for me, even though not all of it was new. But still, is it relevant to single people *now*? [or wait until you're married] YES, it is! The Meaning of Marriage is gospel-centric [which got my interest and inclined me toward reading it in the first place]. Keller frames marriage in the context of living out the gospel, that the gospel is truly what allows u
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Gunner McGrath
May 13, 2013 Gunner McGrath rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All Christians, especially unmarried ones
This goes on my must-read list for all unmarried Christians, and on my should-read list for all married Christians. No, seriously: if you're a single/divorced Christian, put this on the top of your list immediately.

In his book Altar Ego , Craig Groeschel said, "If you don't know the purpose of something, all you can do is misuse it." Sadly, I see huge numbers of people, many of them Christians, misusing marriage because they don't know its purpose. They not only misuse it once they get married,
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Nathan Mckinney
Despite the title and subject matter, this book is not just for those who are married or interested in marriage. Keller's approach to the subject of marriage makes relevant for everyone. He starts with something I wasn't expecting and didn't even realize was necessary with his argument for marriage. I forget that not everyone has a positive view of marriage. Keller starts by reminding us that marriage was God's idea, not a social construct created by man, and is a reflection of the gospel. In hi ...more
Sarah
I have teetered back and forth between rating this with 3 or 4 stars, but ultimately gave it 3 stars because of the latter half of the book was found repetitive and also lacking in regards to gender roles within marriage, sex, and singleness. I contemplated 4 stars because I do appreciate the overall picture that this book helps to draw in creating a realistic picture of marriage and appropriate expectations for what it should bring about in your life. In the first few chapters, Keller proposes ...more
Meredith
I will admit, I am a huge Keller fan and read everything he writes with interest. He is theological, but easy to understand. Next to Prodigal God, this is his best book in MHO. I think this book is a must read for every single adult and married person. Pastoring a large metropolitan church, he has lots of single professionals in his church. He begins the book addressing the purpose of marriage and blows holes through the popular myth that marriage is for self-fulfillment or to find your "soul-ma ...more
Ben Peltz
The best book on marriage that I have read to date. Characteristic for Tim Keller, this book is full of rich pastoral theology. The word theology is key... Keller refuses to indulge in the self-help craze in a subject area that is almost exclusively dominated by self-help. Instead, he carefully works through a biblical theology of marriage, connecting it with the overarching themes of God's covenant love for his people, the love of Christ at the cross, and the love instilled in the lives of beli ...more
Caitlin
I wish I had read this book years ago. I really and truly do. I think I'm going to lend my copy to some of my friends as well. It's that good.

The Kellers tag team through the book, discussing love, sex, and marriage. They offer the cultural narrative, the "Christian" one, and offer an insight to what the Bible really has to say. Instead of being heavy, the book is incredibly life-giving.

They talk about sex.
They talk about gender roles.
They talk about balancing expectations.
They talk about divor
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Bill
Can I give this book 6 stars?! This is a powerful, helpful, encouraging book because it brings the power of the gospel to marriage. "Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow". Typical Tim Keller -- warm, clear, addresses Christians and non-Christians equally, culturally well informed and relevant, speaking from firm theological convictions without seeming overly dogmatic. Kathy Keller's influence is evident, meaning the book should be accesible for both men and ...more
Trevor Durbin
Probably the best book I have read on marriage -- obviously coming from a Christian standpoint, but not without advice that would be beneficial to any couple whether single, newly-married, or well-along in the journey and from any walk of life. There were numerous things I read that I wish I would have known while I was single, dating, engaged, and newly married. There were many things I read that punched me in the gut, convicted me, and taught me a new way to be married. I highly recommend this ...more
Alicia
I got this book as a gift and I liked it, but I had some serious issues with the stereotyping going on in the book. It seemed as if every few pages, the author was saying that non-Christians are sex crazed and only care about money. I feel like loving others shouldn't be an 'us versus them' thing... However, I'm definitely too biased because my husband and I lived together before we were married and don't go to church much because of some bad experiences.

However, this would be a good book to acc
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Caitlin
Many good thoughts, but poorly written. Typical under-emphasis on romance and some belittling of the idea of falling or being 'in love' in favor of the 'select a spouse carefully because marriage is hard, hard work' theme. Not that I disagree, but can't somebody write a book that emphasizes the goodness and sanctity of both?
Courtney Joshua
This was much better than I expected (especially after the last book I read on the subject--Driscoll's "Real Marriage"). Keller's critique of the attitudes and expectations regarding marriage that are prevalent in the culture was helpful, but the best parts were about commitment and self-sacrifice -- looking at marriage in the context of the gospel. Nothing he said was earth-shatteringly new, but it was well-articulated and convicting. Also, the book doesn't fall into the error so many marriage ...more
Esther
2.5 stars

I am neither a New Calvinist nor am I Complimentarian but I am in relationship with Christ and also in relationship with my husband, so reading a book on marriage aimed at "facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God" seemed appropriate.

There are a lot of really great sections in this book. I copied several sections out of the chapter on friendship as they were poignantly written and spoke directly to me, especially in the place I currently find myself.

There were even
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Andrea
This book was a great encouragement to me. Keller discusses not only the problems with the current cultural paradigm of marriage as based solely on human feelings and self-fulfillment, but also some of the errors in contemporary Christian views of marriage. Keller uses statistical evidence on the benefits of remaining married and the level of personal satisfaction, mental health etc. that can be attained through working at a mediocre marriage rather than searching for fulfillment through divorce ...more
Mark Ward
Tim Keller is an experienced pastor whose ministry in the heart of New York City has brought sound Christian doctrine to a difficult demographic: upscale Manhattan urbanites. Keller's blend of evangelistic assiduousness and theological depth have been used by God to bring many of these New Yorkers to Christ.

The Meaning of Marriage comes originally from a sermon series Keller delivered early in his pastorate in New York. Over the years "the marriage tapes" were in constant demand, and the materia
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Angela Kantola
The authors very effectively cut through the froth found in so many marriage books and modern marriage "advice." I've appreciated some of Keller's other writing and this book makes me want to read more of his work. Favorite quotes include:

p. 15-16 "...what marriage is for: It is a way for two spiritual friends to help each other on their journey to become the persons God designed them to be."

p. 33. "Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this crea
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Jessica Stock
I really like Tim Keller and this book was very readable, I would recommend this to anyone attempting to understand what the Bible says about marriage. The chapter written by his wife Kathy on gender roles was excellent especially for anyone who may have a negative assumption of the Biblical view of submission and authority. I found the first section of the book especially good as Keller attempts to describe what marriage is and what it is not, as modern people have either "cosmically impossible ...more
Rebecca
I appear to be bucking the trend by not giving this a "best ever" rating. I have always enjoyed Keller, and I know he's supposed to be the gold standard for PCA theology, but this was just...meh for me. The historical or physiological aspects were interesting to me, but it didn't rock my world. I think it's because I am not the target audience. Keller spends a huge amount of time trying to convince the reader that marriage can be hard work and that relationships can end over minor things if ther ...more
Linda
Tim Keller never ceases to amaze me with his prolific works and his profound insight into marriage. Accompanied by his wife, Kathy Keller, this book will now be deemed by me as the holy grail of marriage books due to the brilliance of painting a picture of marriage that is glorious, joyous, heartwrenching, and sanctifying, which is what God intended marriage to be.

One of my favorite passages on marriage is in the chapter called The Mission of Marriage.

In marriage, each person says to the other,
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Keren Threlfall


The front flyleaf ofThe Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of Godmakes a rather bold statement: "There has never been a book on marriage like The Meaning of Marriage." That seems a rather audacious assertion; but by the time I finished the book, I think I'd concede to read that claim on the back flyleaf, as well.
Contents
Many marriage books leave me scratching my head, banging my head, or really, really thankful I'm married to the man I am. This book did
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Nile
Oct 16, 2012 Nile rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own-it
This book does a good job of shedding light on the Christian perspective of marriage and how that differs from both the modern secular view and the secular view throughout history. It is very practical and if you read it with an open heart you are sure to find yourself convicted at many points.
There is a lot of emphasis on the meaning of marriage as pursuing the sanctification of the other and perceiving in your spouse those glimpses of their future glory-self, knowing that this is their true i
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Joshua D.
Dec 15, 2011 Joshua D. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: newlweds, engaged couples, singles interested in marriage
The title of the book describes with accuracy it's purpose: Tim and Kathy Keller set out to explain the meaning of marriage. Keller pastors a church in Manhattan, largely composed of singles. This book was born out of explaining the Biblical concept of marriage to unmarried men and women, many of whom had no Biblical foundation and very little desire to seek out marriage.

Unlike other Christian devotional books on marriage, Keller offers an apologetic for the Christian view of marriage, and for t
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Jeff
One of the best marriage books I've read. I'll never officiate a wedding again without advising the couple to read this book first.

Some take-aways:

"If both spouses say, 'My self-centeredness is the main problem' they have the prospect of a great marriage."

The reason marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful.

Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.

If your marriage
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Chad Jowers
GREAT book for pre-marital and marital teachings. I love Keller as a teacher, and one can easily see that his heart and grace develops quickly in his writings, as well.

By portraying a modern, western view of marriage (consumer) against a biblical standpoint (covenant), the Kellers slowly but surely break down the walls of how we think marriage should be and begin to pour the foundation of what God foreordained marriage to be, based on Christ and the church (Eph 5).

In our western view, we trade a
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Brian
Nov 15, 2012 Brian rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Tim Keller's book on marriage is a grab bag of biblical teaching and practical advice. It is too heavy on the latter for my taste and though the book is 85% solid, the other 15% seems like more because it is dealing with weighty matters.

It is particularly clumsy and unhelpful regarding sex roles in marriage and yet does a fine job of contrasting covenant marriage versus contract marriage. If you have a box cutter handy I suggest removing Kathy Keller's Chapter 6 (Embracing The Other) with it. Sh
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Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons. For over twenty years he has led a diverse congregation of young professionals that has grown to a weekly attendance of over 5,000.

He is also Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and pub
...more
More about Timothy Keller...
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just

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“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” 223 likes
“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.” 104 likes
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