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

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  13,421 Ratings  ·  1,056 Reviews
Renowned pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and author of The Songs of Jesus, 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 culture would make y
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Dutton Adult
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J.R. Forasteros
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Eric Molicki
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Chuck Bonadies
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Chris McGrath
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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,
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
♥ Sarah
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
The Meaning of Marriage is a deeply profound, meaningful, and radical biblical understanding of marriage that everyone could benefit from (believers & nonbelievers alike).


The book could have been shorter and filled with more interpretation of biblical text rather than excerpts of articles and research done by secular sociologists, but it gives good context to compare modern Westernized notions of marriage & compatibility versus what the bible says.

There is also a lot of rep
This is one of the wisest books I've read on marriage. Tim Keller is a pastor in New York City, leading a church of thousands that includes a large presence of singles. A few of the features that help this book stand out among the crowd of Christian marriage books are...

1) A clear and convincing assessment of our Western cultural values around sex, dating, and marriage. For example, he explores how people are increasingly and simultaneously cynical about marriage and idealistic about what they t
Nathan Schneider
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marriage
Tim Keller, alongside of his wife, Kathy, writes a great book on marriage, sex, and singleness. Keller, a pastor in New York City, elevates the place of marriage, sex, and singleness, while at the same time challenging contemporary idols that both non-Christians and Christians often hold on to as they relate to relationships. His work is biblically grounded and very practical. He does an effective job of grounding each of these relational elements in the glory of God. Marriage points to the grea ...more
Jessica Manuel
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure a less sentimental book on marriage actually exists. In the introduction, Keller states that this book is for those who have experienced the notion that the honeymoon is over and have fallen back to Earth with a thud...

Read my full review here:
Keren Threlfall

The front flyleaf of The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God makes 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.
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 d
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book, recommend it highly to anyone who likes reading and wants a healthy perspective on marriage.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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,
Nathan Mckinney
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, marriage
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
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Tim and Kathy Keller's insights into marriage and the biblical perspective presented with practical considerations.

I feel this will be a book I return to over the years to refresh myself over its ideas and as I imagine my perspective will deepen and shift as I learn what married life actually looks like.

One key piece I took away from it is how marrying a single person is actually more like marrying several. This is really something I'd never heard, but as I turned 32 recently,
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
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
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: husbands, wives, pastors, counselors
Shelves: marriage-family, 2015
A brilliant book on marriage. The best exegesis of some of the Bible's marriage passages I've seen, especially Ephesians 5 and some texts in 1 Corinthians. I particularly appreciated discussions on gender roles/headship and submission, servanthood in marriage, the sanctifying effects of marriage, the power of truth, love, and grace in marriage, and marital sex. I was surprised to come across a chapter on being single, but I was not disappointed in reading it (it was very good).

Currently I have
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spiritual
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
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Luke Miller
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marriage, favorites
This is my second time reading through this book, which is easily in my top 3 books on marriage. The things that I love about Tim Keller are common themes in all of his books, which is why I pretty much read anything that he writes. Or at least I'm trying to. It's hard to keep up with people who publish books in clusters.

In this books, Keller challenges modern myths and perceptions about marriage. He handles the Scriptures with exegetical care and cultural awareness, but he also frequently cites
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
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
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a single, when a friend recommends a book on marriage, your first reaction may be to a) scoff, b) roll eyes, or c)shelf the book indefinitely because it.does.not.apply. But I am grateful that this book was gifted to me because it is a wellspring of wisdom on culture, on self, on love, and how to think of marriage, even if you are single. You don't need anyone to tell you that marriage is an institution of concern in today's culture. You also don't need to be informed that culture's idea of ro ...more
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a book on marriage (or sex or dating or sexuality) that has such an incredible Biblical wisdom. It felt like, every morning when I read a chapter of this book, I was in a small personal quiet time with the LORD, working through that morning's Scripture study. And I don't say that because I consider Tim Keller's words Scripture, but because so many of the words of this book *are* Scripture--or discussion thereof.

Also, this is probably the only Christian marriage book I've seen t
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really like this one. The Kellers break down marriage clearly and hit on all the big issues and callings of marriage. And yet, I almost gave this one for stars.

The first few chapters are the same things you see in all Christian marriage books. Good, biblical, God glorifying guidance, but nothing new. But those last three chapters in the topics of: a wife's submission, singleness, and sex are worth the price of the book but themselves.

Everyone needs a reminder of God's call in marriage. There
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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 Redeem
More about Timothy J. Keller...
“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.” 440 likes
“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” 183 likes
More quotes…