JUST HOW MARRIED DO YOU WANT TO BE?: Practicing Oneness in Marriage
Jim and Sarah Sumner
Love and Marriage
As any husband and wife will tell you, marriage is a mystery. Designed as a gift from God, it often becomes more complicated and confusing than two people ever imagined as they grow together in their relationship. In their book, JUST HOW MARRIED DO YOU WANT TO BE?, Jim and Sarah Sumner take a look at marriage from a Biblical perspective.
The authors are quick to point out that in backgrounds and personalities they couldn’t be more different from each other. While Sarah was a long-time believer and active in ministry, Jim’s background included stripping, drugs and other unsavory behavior. When Jim came to know Christ, he had a radical renovation of the heart and grew in his faith quickly and steadily. The years passed, and eventually Sarah and Jim fell in love. Yet they discovered that the differences in their backgrounds often caused fissures in their marriage.
Throughout the book, the Sumners are candid about their struggles and experiences in marriage. They talk about how some of the baggage from each of their pasts burdened them and held them back from all they were intended to be. They are quick to point to the work of Christ in their lives and the greater work of humility, love and compassion that God was doing in them.
One of the unique aspects that makes this book different from hundreds of others on marriage is Sarah’s deep appreciation for examining scripture. Her earlier title, MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH, is a classic on the roles of men and women in ministry. JUST HOW MARRIED DO YOU WANT TO BE? follows along those same lines, translating the core message into the role of men and women in a marriage relationship. Sarah is quick to focus on the Greek and Hebrew meanings of words and often includes a scholarly look at the text used to explore her views. The result is a depth and richness lacking in many other marriage books.
At the same time, many couples will be challenged by the way the Sumners look at marriage in terms of how husbands and wives relate to each other. Without giving away the goods, many readers will want to dive into the scripture to learn and study more about the ideas presented.
While a number of marriage books tackle topics like hot-button issues and resolving conflict in marriage, the Sumners do it in such a way that is academically challenging and yet still engages the heart. The cry of this book --- and any marriage --- is conformity to Christ’s image, and readers are encouraged to examine how their marriage is leading to that end.
At times, JUST HOW MARRIED DO YOU WANT TO BE? feels like it needs a few smoother transitions, but overall it’s a thought-provoking read. Couples who engage in this book together will not only have the opportunity to grow closer in their marriage, but spiritually as well.
Recommended to newlyweds as well as oldlyweds.
--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines
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