Gospel-Centered Marriage and Marriage Counseling
Part 1: 12 Gospel-Centered Books on Marriage and Marriage Counseling
A Word from Bob: Today I launch a new blog “mini-series” on biblical marriage counseling: Gospel-Centered Marriage and Marriage Counseling. I’m starting with several posts on resources for counselors and couples.
Post # 1: 12 Gospel-Centered Books on Marriage and Marriage Counseling
These books provide a foundational biblical overview of God’s plan and purposes for a Christ-centered marriage.
Post # 2: 15 Gospel-Centered Marriage Books on Communication, Conflict Resolution, and Forgiveness
These books provide practical biblical principles and teaching on communication, conflict resolution, and forgiveness. They also help us to think through biblical principles of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
Post # 3: 18 Gospel-Centered Books on Common Issues in Marriage
These books provide practical biblical principles for dealing with specific issues and common struggles in marriage.
Post # 4: 13 Gospel-Centered Pre-Marital Counseling Books
Preventative counseling and marital preparation are foundational to any healthy marriage. These books are the best of the best in pre-marital teaching, resources, and manuals.
12 Gospel-Centered Books on Marriage and Marriage Counseling
According to Ephesians 5:22-33, God created marriage to be a picture of the gospel in action. The following books explain this bigger-than-life, bigger-than-us purpose and plan for marriage.
This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence, by John Piper
The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the common human conception is—and has always been—gargantuan. Reflecting on over forty years of matrimony, John Piper exalts the biblical meaning of marriage over its emotion, exhorting couples to keep their covenant as a display of Christ’s covenant-keeping love for the church. He aims to lift the church’s low view of marriage to something infinitely greater, namely, a vision of Jesus’s unswerving allegiance to and affection for His bride. This Momentary Marriage unpacks the biblical vision, its unexpected contours, and its weighty implications for married, single, divorced, and remarried alike.
What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, by Paul Tripp
Everyone’s marriage morphs into something we didn’t intend it to be. At some point we need something sturdier than romance. We need something deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction. We need changed expectations, we need radical commitments, and, most importantly, we need grace. Paul Tripp reminds his readers that marriage is essentially about worship. We are either seeking to build our own self-centered kingdoms or building the kingdom of God. Tripp encourages couples to align their individual agendas for marriage with Christ’s Kingdom agenda through six commitments: a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness, making growth and change their daily agenda, working to build a sturdy bond of trust, building a relationship of love, dealing with differences with appreciation and grace, and working to protect the marriage.
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller
This book shows everyone—Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples, and those about to be engaged—the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible. Modern culture would have us believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. But these modern-day assumptions are wrong. Tim and Kathy Keller show marriage to be a glorious relationship that is also misunderstood and mysterious.
Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change through Ordinary Moments, by Winston Smith
He snapped at her at breakfast. She brought up a past mistake. He walked out angry. She left without saying good-bye. Just one day in an ordinary marriage. But what if things could be different? What if the ordinary moments of annoyance, conflict, pain, or cold indifference could become moments to understand God’s incredible agenda for love and begin something new? This book offers a simple, yet powerful prescription for changing marriages one ordinary moment at a time. Change begins with understanding how and why small disagreements evolve into major problems, taking practical steps to love one another more effectively, and learning how to take those same steps over and over again. Interactions that used to devolve into pointless annoyances and fights can become opportunities for God’s love to become increasingly evident and powerful. Winston Smith takes abstract, biblical principles and applies them to the concrete details of life so that ordinary marriages can become extraordinary.
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane
Though not written only for marriage relationships, this book has great gospel wisdom for the husband-wife relationship. Your spouse can’t stop complaining about your bad habits. Your teen refuses to talk to you. Your best friend is suddenly cool and distant. What are you supposed to do? Plans A, B, and C might be to shut down, lash out, or get out. But consider Plan D: Recognize that God has the last word on those messy, conflict-ridden relationships. He can use them to make you into someone who can give and receive love with God and others. Impossible? Idealistic? Not really. In Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp show you how God does it, and how it can happen for you. They help you tackle the stubborn problems that plague many close relationships. They show you the deeper issues that drive our reactions, choices, and behaviors. And they show you how God steps in to help you build relationships that are all He intended them to be.
The Song of Solomon offers strikingly candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. We need it. We are inundated with songs, movies, and advice that contradict God’s design for love and intimacy. Matt Chandler helps navigate these issues for both singles and marrieds by revealing the process Solomon himself followed. The Mingling of Souls will forever change how you view and approach love.
Strengthening Your Marriage, by Wayne Mack
For better or for worse? Whichever term describes your marriage, there are ways to make it (even) better. That’s because God has designed marriage to be a relationship of deep unity and strength. Despite the challenges that couples face today, marital harmony need not be considered an impossible ideal. Wayne Mack recognizes the challenges before us, and shows us how to meet those challenges with growing success. In this book, he has gathered a wealth of biblical insight and practical information on marital roles, communication, finances, sex, child rearing, and family worship. Both as a counseling aid and as a guide for husbands and wives to study together, this book offers true hope and help where couples need it most.
Sweethearts for a Lifetime: Making the Most of Your Marriage, by Wayne Mack and Carol Mack
This biblical, practical book will help couples restore warmth and vitality to their marriages. Written both for newlyweds and for those who have long been married, Sweethearts for a Lifetime is a scriptural guide for lasting love.
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. What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? Sacred Marriage doesn’t just offer techniques to make a marriage happier. It does contain practical tools, but what married Christians most need is help in becoming holier husbands and wives. Sacred Marriage offers that help with insights from Scripture, church history, time-tested wisdom from Christian classics, and examples from today’s marriages.
Marriage is the union of two people who arrive at the altar toting some surprisingly large luggage. Often it gets opened right there on the honeymoon, sometimes it waits for the week after. The Bible calls it sin. Understanding its influence can make all the difference for a man and woman who are building a life together. When Sinners Say “I Do” is about encountering the life-transforming power of the gospel in the unpredictable journey of marriage.
You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, by Francis Chan and Lisa Chan
Marriage is great, but it’s not forever. It’s until death do us part. Then comes eternal rewards or regrets depending on how we spend our lives. Francis Chan joins together with his wife Lisa to address the question many couples wonder at the altar: “How do I have a great marriage?” Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls.
God, Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, by Andreas J. Kostenberger
God’s gracious plan to make His character and glory known though the institutions of marriage and family is under cultural attack like never before. Pastors’ and biblical counselors’ offices are filled daily with families struggling to find their way. Kostenberger’s first edition of God, Marriage and Family was the most extensive work to date on the biblical and theological framework for understanding God’s intent for the family: marriage, parenting, singleness, divorce and remarriage, same-sex attraction, etc. His second edition provides significant updates in every area, plus completely new sections on the theology of sex and on parenting teens. This book also contains an exhaustive bibliography on issues of marriage, parenting, and family.
Join the Conversation
How have any of these books impacted your marriage? Your marriage counseling ministry?
What gospel-centered marriage books would you add to this list?