Friday, 31 August 2012


When reading a marriage book, I don’t mind it when the author tends to pontificate, i.e. to speak pompously: to speak about something in a knowing and self-important way, especially when not qualified to do so.  Nor do I mind an author who waxes eloquently, i.e. fluent, forceful, and persuasive; and vividly expressive.  I do mind it when I feel convicted, when an author gets nebby, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania expression meaning the kind of person who is always poking into peoples’ affairs.

In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller gets nebby.  Under the heading “The Priority of Marriage” Keller says, “If you see your spouse as mainly a sexual partner or a financial partner, you will find that you will need pursuits outside of marriage to really engage your  whole soul.  In that case, children, parents, career, political, or social activism, hobbies, or of a network of close friends – one or more of these things will capture your  imagination, provide joy and meaning, and absorb emotional energy more than your marriage.”

Then Keller has the nerve to go on the attack by saying our spouse is only a “pseudo-spouse if our spouse does not feel that we are putting him/her first, then by definition we aren’t.  And when that happens our marriage is dying.”

I remember hearing a lawyer say many years ago “never ask the witness a question unless you already know the answer.”  Which for someone who can’t remember what he had for breakfast this morning is remarkable, but I digress.  This is a dilemma.  Remember your spouse’s answer is predicated on what they feel, not what we think.  This is no trivial matter.  If Keller is only partially right, i.e. our marriage may not be dying but the prognosis isn’t good, then we need to know if our husband/wife thinks anything in our life is more important to us than he/she is.

 This seems to be a place for one of Paul Tripp’s famous sayings, “The desire for even a good thing can become a bad thing if it becomes a ruling thing.”  Often kids take center stage; sometimes setting aside enough money for college and retirement is all consuming; for still others it may be their occupation, etc.   As you can see these are not bad things but if any of them become the driving force behind what we do and how we spend our energies we need to reassess our lives.

Tim Keller
Here is the clincher.  Keller writes, “The simple fact is that only if I love Jesus more than my husband/wife will I be able to serve his/her needs ahead of my own.”  Perhaps this is a question you need to answer first before you ask your spouse whether or not they feel as though they are number one in your life.


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