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?

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  13,229 ratings  ·  740 reviews
This book has Alternate Cover Editions for this ISBN [ACE]
ACE #1

Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully, and love him more deeply. Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. But what if God s primary inte
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 4th 2002 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.
Popular Answered Questions
Laura Bennet Yes, it has discussion questions. Yes, my husband and I read it together and had some great discussions.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,229 ratings  ·  740 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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
D. Robert Pease
Oct 03, 2012 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
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great marriage book. I would recommend this to everyone that is married or is going to get married. I have read bits and pieces of this book before and it really helps my spiritual and married life.
Nov 13, 2008 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
Brett Mclaughlin
Jan 19, 2010 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
Feb 11, 2010 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 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
Christina DeVane
This is a great book for those who’ve been married awhile! It’s not really a how-to process, but rather a mindset/perspective change in viewing our marriage as God intended, regardless of how long we’ve been married. So many powerful quotes that I would’ve liked to highlight! (I listened to this.)
“When you say to your spouse ‘I don’t love you anymore’ you are in essence saying ‘I can’t live like a Christian anymore..’”
He also brought out how our culture has overly romanticized marriage/relation
April Knapp
Apr 02, 2011 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!

Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 pre-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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 McIntire
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book six stars, I would. If I could give a copy to every married Christan, I'd do that too. Thomas' perspective - that marriage is designed to produce holiness more than happiness in our lives - is refreshing and rings abundantly true. On top of that, he's an interesting writer who advances his teaching with relatable and often funny stories from his own life and ministry. Highly recommended for married people and engaged people within a few weeks of marriage.

Important conte
Jason Atkinson
Dec 26, 2015 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.
Mar 16, 2010 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 10, 2010 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
Karly Noelle White
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
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Adam Lockhart
Eat the meat and throw out the bones.

There are a lot of practical, biblical and wise teachings in here but the Christian trappings of "man works, woman stays at home" or the examples of moms homeschooling as well as some more Christian cliches (that I hate) make it difficult to read and more so to recommend to someone not familiar with those stereotypes.

Being married to a strong, confident (and often bucking a lot of the female stereotypes in the book)woman, I don't think I'd even recommend it
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
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
Kristen Parnell
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Gary Thomas affirms the value and purpose of marriage in this book. He suggests the purpose of marriage is not primarily our happiness but our holiness, and when holiness is the pursuit, happiness/satisfaction often follows. As an engaged woman, I truly appreciate this perspective. Our culture's view of marriage and relationships in general is a selfish one: Will this person make me happy? Then, when pleasure fails, the relationship often ends. However, when holiness or the intentional de ...more
Brittany McDowell
Honestly, this is one of the best books I've ever read. A book I plan to read every year. Addresses so many essential elements of an individual's relationship with Christ, while relating those elements to marriage. I definitely grew spiritually by reading this book.
Jake Hagan
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read. This book taught me so much, but it really makes you want to put the book down and go live. That is a good book to me.
Courtney Shevchenko
This was an awesome book on marriage and on the higher purpose that it has! I definitely recommend this one to married couples, and even engaged couples. I will be reading this one again and taking notes for sure.
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing

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
Annette mathews
This is not your average book which makes you believe that everything is perfect in a Marriage. This is a book where it dissects the marriage, find out what is really going on behind the Scenes. This book instructs both the persons involved in moving closer to God through the art of Marriage. I first came to know of this book through our Marriage Counsellor. Brian and I had to read it as a part of our Marriage Counseling. . This book introduced me to Lincoln's famous Gettysburg address, which ha ...more
Pete Foley
Dec 22, 2011 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
This book must have been groundbreaking when it was first released because, over time, the ideas have become somewhat common knowledge in Christian circles. I'm giving it three stars because the ideas are interesting, but I found the couples used as examples extremely difficult to relate to. I think the audience for this book was (intentionally or unintentionally) really white, suburban, middle-class conservative people (I kept wondering if any of the women in the book had ever worked a day in t ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Chapter 2 Discussion and Reflection Questions 1 2 May 18, 2018 12:12PM  
Introduce Yourself! 1 1 Apr 06, 2018 07:17AM  
Thanks for the recommendation .... 3 42 Mar 13, 2018 03:02PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
  • The Power of a Praying Wife
  • His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage
  • For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men
  • The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
  • The Love Dare
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
  • Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart
  • The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective
  • Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
  • A Woman After God's Own Heart
  • You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
  • Battlefield Of The Mind: Winning The Battle In Your Mind
  • Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
  • 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life
  • Fireproof
See similar books…
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 over a dozen languages. These books include Cherish, 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 Gol ...more

News & Interviews

  Let your voice be heard! We need your help selecting the best books of the year during the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards, our 12th annual...
84 likes · 48 comments
“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” 23 likes
“The key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view? In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.” 12 likes
More quotes…