What is marriage? It is a gift. It is a gift that should be held onto loosely in this world because it is a momentary gift. However, at the same time it should be highly valued and tightly embraced because of the eternal blessing it represents. As John Piper states in This Momentary Marriage, “The meaning of marriage is the display of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and His people” (p. 15).
Piper’s aim in this book is to broaden our understanding of what marriage is. Where so many other books focus on how to have successful marriages or how biblical marriages affect the world, this book is different. It answers the simple and profound question, “What is marriage?”
One could suppose that the correct answer to the question is that marriage represents the union between Christ and the church. That answer would not be incorrect—but what does the answer itself mean? This book takes simple answer and dives deeper into the implications of this truth.
For example, Piper demonstrates in chapter 4, “Forgiving and Forbearing,” that just as we have received forgiveness from our sins, we are to demonstrate forgiveness and forbearance in marriage. All this is carried out in order to glorify God. This is a message of grace that should be illustrated in marriage.
In chapter 5, “Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant,” we see that such grace is what allows us to pursue conformity to Christ for God’s glory. The remainder of the book takes this idea and expands on it in specific areas of marriage. As a result, we see there is so much more to the blessing of marriage that needs to be explored and understood. One can’t help but glorify God for the future eternal marriage when the church is united with Christ.
Though Dietrich Bonhoeffer never married, Piper uses the martyrdom and life of Bonhoeffer as a backdrop for the book. Each chapter begins with a quote from Bonhoeffer related to the topic within the chapter. The chapters start in the Garden of Eden giving the reader an overview of where marriage on earth started. It was created by God for God’s glory. The chapters then move through discussing God’s covenant-keeping grace, forgiveness, conformity to Christ, the roles of husbands and wives within the covenant of marriage, singleness, faith in sex, the purpose of childbearing and child rearing, singleness, and the subjects of divorce and remarriage.
This Momentary Marriage opened my heart to a greater understanding of what my marriage is and more importantly, what that implies. Marriage is an opportunity to display the gospel of Christ by demonstrating the covenant-keeping love Christ has for His church. What I have here in my temporal marriage is a blessing to be used for God’s glory. It is a tremendous opportunity to share with others the love Christ has for those that seek Him and desire to spend eternity with Him. The joys of earthly, momentary marriages pale in comparison to the joy we will experience in our eternal union with Christ.
- “The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God.” (20)
- “So I argue that staying married is not mainly about staying in love. It’s about covenant-keeping.” (31)
- “Let the measure of God’s grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.” (46)
- “The aim of the godly husband’s desire for change in his wife is conformity to Christ, not conformity to himself.” (67)
- “To provide spiritual food for the family, you must know spiritual food.” (89)
- “Marriage and family are temporary for this age; the church is forever.” (111)
- “Husbands and wives are meant to pursue the pleasures God has created for this relationship.” (128)
- “God’s purpose in making marriage the place to have children was…to fill the earth with worshippers of the true God.” (139)
- “The gospel of Christ crucified for our sins is the foundation of our lives. Marriage exists to display it.” (175)