Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” as Want to Read:
Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  8,192 Ratings  ·  479 Reviews
Starting with the discovery that the goal of marriage goes beyond personal happiness, writer and speaker Gary Thomas invites readers to see how God can use marriage as a discipline and a motivation to love him more and reflect more of the character of his Son.
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Zondervan (first published February 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sacred Marriage, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sacred Marriage

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
D. Robert Pease
Oct 03, 2012 D. Robert Pease rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely amazing. The tag on the cover sums it up: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" This is a ground-breaking concept in today's world of serial divorces. We seem to shop for spouses like we shop for new clothes. When the marriage gets difficult, or just worn out, we get a new wife or husband.

But what if marriage is supposed to be hard? What if the "worse" in for better or for worse is pretty much a guarantee, and designed by God, to dra
Dec 18, 2013 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
This book began with several problems for me, and really the best chapters come toward the end. First, I wasn't particularly fond of the portrayal of women in the book as always housewives or working women "toppled by their ambition." I couldn't decide if this was because Thomas's own wife was a housewife and so that was the male-female relationship he knew more to speak about, which seems reasonable, or if he very firmly holds to a complementarian view of men and women, which often is a tricky ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Jl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got rid of my copy before finishing it (roughly four years ago). Between my incomplete reading and poor memory, I am probably doing the book a disservice. But here are some of my criticisms:
1. I don’t think the main purpose of marriage is to make us holy rather than happy. Marriage was portrayed as a crucible designed to reveal our selfishness and sinfulness. If God instituted marriage before the Fall, I don’t see how the hypothesis can hold up. Yes, God can, and does, use everything in our li
Aug 06, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, faith
For the first time in four or five years, I did a Bible Study this summer that wasn't an inductive study. To be quite honest, I was a bit fearful that I would hate doing a book study. I can't stand "how to" books and really hate being led by the nose to a specific conclusion. (Issues with authority, you think?) So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoy this book. Here's why:

#1) This isn't a how to book. Instead of giving us a list of things to do to make our marriages better, Tho
Brett Mclaughlin
Jan 24, 2010 Brett Mclaughlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, marriage
"Sacred Marriage" continues to be my go-to book on marriage (which by definition for me could be restated as "Christian marriage"). This is my third reading, and I still find myself underlining, "hmm"-ing out loud, and learning. Thomas treats marriage with a respect far greater toward God than for happiness, and that makes this book unique and profound.

The subtitle explains the premise of the book: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" This question is one t
Skylar Burris
May 04, 2010 Skylar Burris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sacred Marriage is “not a book that seeks to tell you how to have a happier marriage.” It’s not even a book that seeks to tell you how to have a better marriage than you currently have. It is, rather, a book that tells you how to endure your marriage. Cheery, no? But if you accept marriage as a life-long proposition, then chances are, there will be times, perhaps seasons, when you simply do have to endure it, and I have yet to discover another book that advises people how to endure those times w ...more
Feb 28, 2011 Cori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So why would the unmarried girl want to read a book about marriage? Well, my recently married friend Brittney was reading it in a couples Bible study. She said thought was helpful for married people, but she really wanted to give it to all her unmarried friends because she thought it would set up some more realistic expectations for marriage (what, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns?). And seeing as most of our single friends would tell her where she could kindly stick the book, she thought I wo ...more
Mar 16, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been condensed into one chapter. In my opinion, he's a little too heavy-handed with the whole idea of marriage as a spiritual discipline. Although there is some element of truth in what he's saying, he comes across as being himself in a pretty joyless marriage due to having married very young. I will confess that part of my annoyance with the book is his complementarian view of gender roles, which I staunchly disagree with. But not a bad read entirely. He is right in that mo ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of interesting insights and things to think about and to be fair, I think I would get a lot more out of it if I re-read it a time or two. I don't read a lot of books on marriage or parenting anymore because you have to admit the formula of "you're doin' it wrong, let me show you the one true way!" gets really old not to mention contradictory and confusing. What I love most about this book is that is NOT at all like that. You won't find 7 tips to communicate better, or sex secre ...more
Jun 22, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
I read the first few chapters of this book when I was newly engaged, as my pastor recommended it to my husband and I to read as part of our per-marriage counseling. In the throes of my soon-to-be-wed state, I didn't take the words of this book too seriously. I thought to myself, "Of course I'm going to love and serve my husband. Of course I am going to grow spiritually. Dissension in my marriage??? NEVER!" However, five years have passed and I revisited this book, reading it through to the end. ...more
Chin Hwa
Nov 11, 2014 Chin Hwa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
A thought-provoking and challenging book on the way marriage can be used to build character and foster a servant-hearted, humble attitude in each spouse. When the media is saturated with notions of self-fulfillment and romance as the most important elements of a happy marriage, Gary Thomas paints a picture of what he calls a "sacred marriage", shaped by sacrificial love and the spiritual disciplines of forgiveness, perseverance, and respect.

Some gems from the book:

'When disagreements arise, the
April Knapp
Apr 02, 2011 April Knapp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original Review posted HERE

I think every married couple should read this book! Of course, if you are not a believer in Jesus, you probably won't like it. But, I found the book both comforting and challenging.

Gary Thomas writes in a way that's easy to understand and follow with several appropriate anecdotes to illustrate his points. I usually have a hard time reading non-fiction, but this book flowed nicely. It took me a long time to read because there is so much meat in it to process!

4.5*** There was a lot to appreciate in this book. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because it was written by a man, Gary Thomas. That sounded a little crazy, so let me explain. He wrote largely from his point of view as a husband and man seeking God, so while I found it very helpful and even inspiring that men out there work so hard at their marriage and relationship with God, there was just something missing. Overall, this book encourages you to accept marriage as a challenge for m ...more
Jason Atkinson
Dec 26, 2015 Jason Atkinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book on marriage

I have never read a Christian book on marriage that placed such a high priority on the sanctification aspect of marriage. His discussion of marital sex was even placed within the context of sanctification. The last chapter was undoubtedly my favourite. The struggle between individual calling and marriage was addressed. How does one live out ones individual calling within the context of marriage? Thomas gives a great answer.
Karly Noelle Noelle
A powerful look at marriage as a means to making you "holy", not "happy". This isn't a book that advocates staying in an unhealthy relationship, nor an anti-divorce rhetoric. Rather, it is a book that teaches that marriage has a place in an active and healthy spiritual life, and is a spiritual calling, as much as celibacy was to the faithful nuns and monks of the middle ages. Marriage is a joy and a gift, but also a training ground and mirror for our relationship to Christ. Gary Thomas' concise ...more
Peter Coleman
It is an empty victory when we imagine that we have somehow guarded ourselves against the influences of a corrupt culture by throwing a string of letters before every video game, television show and movie, warning us of the dangers that lay beyond. The trouble is that there are perfectly clean movies that are free of obscene language, nudity and violence yet still portray a system of values out of sync with a Christian worldview. Though far more subtle, it is these dangers that can destroy the h ...more
Pete Foley
Dec 22, 2011 Pete Foley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on marriage which right out of the gate challenges the prevailing social myths about marriage and its purpose in society. Thomas starts off with a quick review of the Romantic period and its influence on how we perceive marriage and what we expect out of it: un-dying romantic love and bliss, a partner who's focused solely on your needs, etc. He points out that this is a relatively recent phenomenon and that marriage was not always perceived this way. He then posits a pretty pivota ...more
Jan 17, 2008 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
My new favorite marriage book, August 11, 2005

I used to give out copies of Bryan Chapell's wonderful Each for the Other. Before that my favorite book on marriage had been Mike Mason The Mystery of Marriage. Thomas is my new favorite.

He shows that the design of marriage is not for our mere happiness. It is so much greater than that. Its central purpose is our holiness. In this approach, God alone is acknowledged as Lord of our lives. He is cent
Sep 08, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My women's group used this book to guide discussions on a weekly basis for about six months. The group contained women with kids, without kids, single, divorce, remarried, widowed, and with traditional marriages. Everyone got something out of the discussions that took place despite their current situation. The author uses a lot of examples to try to get points across. Some are better than others, but all were helpful in getting the discussion going. The one chapter we lingered on the longest was ...more
May 09, 2016 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I wish I had read this book before I got married. In fact, when I was still single and not even thinking about marriage. It's as much about being a better disciple of Jesus as it is about marriage, though the entire premise is rooted in this fact: marriage is one of the means God uses to daily sanctify us and mold us more into the image of Christ. I would say this is required reading for any person who wants to seriously consider the higher purpose and calling of marriage. May the Lo
Mandy J. Hoffman
WOW! Every couple should read this book and every couple getting ready to get married should read this book. Gary Thomas did a powerful job of showing how marriage is not about our indiviual happiness but about how we can grow in holiness. The copy that I just read was a library book, but if it had been mine it would have been dog-eared and full of stars and underlines! My perspective of marriage has been greatly altered and I look forward to the years ahead that God gives us with a renewed pass ...more
Sep 17, 2012 Vicki marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thanks-ruthie
Ok. I'll think about it. I swore off marriage books years ago...better for me to focus on my submission to God & let the run-off improve my marriage...but this one has an interesting bent.
Jun 14, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians preparing for marriage
Shelves: books-i-own, marriage
I'm never sure what I'll get when I pick up a Christian book on marriage; some can be gimmicky or cliched or simply tiresome. But there are definitely some gems out there, and I count Sacred Marriage among them.

Instead of asking how spirituality shapes married life, Gary Thomas asks how marriage can shape our spirituality. This is the very question I have been pondering since I began thinking about marriage as a form of radical discipleship. Thomas considers what it means to say that marriage i
Mike E.
Aug 21, 2010 Mike E. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marriage
This book is also worth reading but falls short of the "must read" marriage book that I am searching for. Thomas writes, "This is a book that looks beyond marriage. Spiritual growth is the main theme; marriage is simply the context."

His primary theme is reflected by his rhetorical question, "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" To which I would respond--what if even this question makes marriage something that it's not? Marriage is indeed the most important h
Heather Denigan
I'm going to try to read this book every year. I prayed my way through the book. It's much less "to-do," or how to think, than a challenge of character because this challenge by its very nature, is communal and relational. It aims straight for the heart. Thomas reflects on what marriage has taught him about God, his relationship to God, and then his relationship to Lisa. The chapter on service was particularly convicting for me.

One of my tests for nonfiction by a Christian author is the breadth
Irina T
Feb 17, 2016 Irina T rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the best book on marriage I've read so far. I like the seriousness with which Gary Thomas approaches the subject and wrote his book - anchored in the Bible and in today's reality, also quoting great authors and real-life experiences. He looks at marriage as a sacred discipline that can help us draw closer to God and experience the Christian life and God more profoundly and as a sacrament that we must strive to honor all our lives. He thinks a good Christian marriage can be and sh ...more
Jul 06, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a must-read for all couples who are married or planning on getting married. Thomas presents marriage not as something God created for us to be happy but to be holy. Marriage is a full-time ministry that we engage in with another person. It's not going to be easy but you will learn a lot. Most of all, Thomas stresses that if we can't love our spouse, with whom we will be most intimate with in all the good and bad, how can we love others? It's easier to love others when we don't kn ...more
Apryl Anderson
Sep 27, 2016 Apryl Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a recommendation by my pastor when my husband was finally willing to face the truth of our "marriage." (And we were specifically pointed to this most recent edition, as opposed to an earlier one.) Not realizing that there are study questions at the end of the book, we downloaded a discussion guide (based on the earlier edition) from his website. In any case, we're glad that we did—the 3rd-party prompts were so helpful. Brutal, but helpful.

For so many years, I'd been striving to be
Aug 09, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface this by saying, I am not married. But I was very recently in a relationship that was considering marriage and when it ended I needed...something. My sister, who has been married for 10 years recommend this book.
I normally am not a huge fan of a lot of Christian books. I think they are either unbiblical and/or too idealistic. This book however, changed everything for me in how I view the purpose of relationships in general and a future marriage. It has also left me accountable to
Rachel Devaughn
Jun 22, 2016 Rachel Devaughn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book cover immediately stood out to me because of the words "holy more than happy". That thought had never occurred to me before. The "worldly" selfish view is to make sure we are always happy and if our spouse or significant other doesn't make us happy anymore, its time to move on to something better. I wasn't raised like that, but I also don't like the concept of being miserable in a marriage either. Instead of focusing on my husbands faults, I should be focusing on how I can have a bette ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thanks for the recommendation .... 2 37 Aug 05, 2012 01:46AM  
  • The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle
  • Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace
  • What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage
  • Love and War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of
  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
  • Fit to Be Tied: Making Marriage Last a Lifetime
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart
  • The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
  • Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before and after You Marry
  • Each for the Other: Marriage as It's Meant to Be
  • God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation
  • The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective
  • Intimate Allies
  • Reforming Marriage
  • Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother
  • Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change through Ordinary Moments
Gary Thomas’ writing and speaking focuses on bringing people closer to Christ and closer to others. He is the author of 18 books that have been translated into a dozen languages. These books include A Lifelong Love, Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?, The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, but Why?, Sacred Pathways, and the ...more
More about Gary L. Thomas...

Share This Book

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” 16 likes
“If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question—stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.” 5 likes
More quotes…