There are a number of very good marriage preparation courses. Many of them tend to concentrate on matters such as how to sort out arguments, how to treat the wider family, etc. Christopher Ash’s book Married for God is a useful complement to these. He aims to draw out from the Bible what God’s plan for marriage is and to apply this teaching to daily life in the 21st century.
The book is very readable but at the same time thought-provoking. The author is very open, honest and gracious. He writes helpfully about such matters as: dealing with past sexual experiences; the importance of children; why marriage is better than cohabitation (something we all need to grapple with these days); singleness; and many other aspects of life-in-relationship too.
He is not afraid to have a brief go at tough questions like: is it right deliberately not to have children? and, what if we cannot have children?
Above all, Christopher Ash seeks to show that marriage is not all about ‘me and my needs’. Surely this is the unspoken – or even spoken – assumption behind many divorces and separations. If marriage isn’t giving me what I want, I can chuck it in and go and get another one.
Marriage, he says, is about ‘intimacy, friendship, partnership, fun and faithfulness’ (p.33). But more importantly, it’s about serving God. That’s why the book ends with the ultimate marriage of Christ to his church – visible throughout the Bible but especially in Revelation 19 and 21.
Each chapter ends with study questions that will help people use the book to prepare for marriage or to enrich their marriages. If you’re left wanting to delve into things more, you can read the author’s longer and more technical book Marriage.