Let me begin by saying that reading these books won’t guarantee a perfect marriage!
Nevertheless, reading well informed, Christian books on marriage can aid preparation immensely and also help already married couples to make necessary adjustments.
Below are my top five reads on marriage (so far):
For those of us who have read anything by Tim Keller we will know he is well worth reading. This book on marriage is no different. The excellent features of The Meaning of Marriage include a great sense of humour, an insightful exposition of the meaning of marriage, helpful (and practical) discussion on gender roles and decision making and most surprisingly a superb chapter on singleness. The chapter on singleness I found particularly good as it not only addressed the issues and struggles single people face but also challenged the church and married couples to involve single people in their lives.
The selling point of This Momentary Marriage is the theological robustness that is present in all of John Piper’s writings. Again, John Piper argues that marriage’s greatest purpose is the glory of God and that by living for the glory of God in God-given marriage we will find joy. One of the special features of this book is that Piper draws out the implications not only for those thinking about marriage, or married already, but for those who are single, remarried and divorced.
Married for God has the great benefit of not being written from an American point of view – it is written by an Englishman (which may be better or worse for an NI context). Ash gives an authentically biblical view of marriage and by doing so he displays effectively not only the purpose of marriage but of sex, intimacy, children and the institution of marriage.
God, Marriage and family is a book that you are unlikely to sit down and read cover to cover. It is 350 pages of well researched, biblically informed, professionally tried and tested, and thus invaluable, information. As is perhaps evident from the title the benefit of this book is not only its discussion of marriage, but also family in light of God’s Word. The exegetical work undertaken in this book is second to none. And, while this may appear an intimidating read it is an excellent reference book which offers biblical answers on almost any issue related to marriage.
One Flesh is an intensely practical book. Given the nature of the content the suggestion would be that this book is only for those who are getting married in the immediate future or are already married. The focus of the book is sex and so there is not the theological robustness of Piper, nor the exegetical prowess of Kostenberger present – yet it is full of wisdom and down to earth help in the area of sex in marriage.
There are two other books which I would like to mention. These two books do not belong to the same class as the books above. Their biblical, theological and exegetical work is not as clear cut as Ash, Piper or Kostenberger. However, they tackle practical issues with straight forward talking and honest answers – well worth a read for married couples.