While the shelves at bookstores, both Christian and mainstream, are groaning under the weight of books dealing with marriage, few of these books offer assistance with the root of all of the problems we encounter in our relationships. Few of them get to the heart of the matter, looking deep into the human heart and prescribing the biblical cure. Into this void steps Dave Harvey with his book When Sinners Say “I Do,”, a book that is justly garnering much positive attention.
This is not a how-to book or a step-by-step to a happy marriage. It does not offer ancient secrets or knowledge that has until now been hidden. Rather, it simply offers the Bible’s realistic take on the reality of human sin and the power of the gospel to build and sustain healthy, happy, marriages that honor and glorify God.
Harvey deals frankly, honestly and unrelentingly with sin and on the basis of that foundation allows grace to shine in all its beauty.
Piercing in its description of sin and unrelenting in pursuing sin to the deepest recesses of our hearts (and thus, of our relationships), When Sinners Say “I Do” is a most welcome contribution in a busy marketplace.
Most of the marriage books written in recent years, even the Christian ones, focus on felt needs, self-esteem and other psychological hot buttons. Harvey has refreshingly given us a great handbook for defeating the number one enemy of marriages – sin.
WHEN SINNERS SAY “I DO”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage, author and pastor Dave Harvey looks squarely into the reality of marriage — that it is two sinners uniting and the result is a clash of desires. He encourages couples to do what they don’t want to do so they can enjoy what they long to experience. Many marriage books have great tips on how to rekindle romance or simple steps to happier marriage. However, these often tend to address the symptoms of marital trouble while neglecting the real problem.
WHEN SINNERS SAY “I DO”, however, does not bemoan the problem but clearly exults in the solution — the gospel! Harvey quickly points out that the gospel is greater than our sin and applying it inspires hope and begins the exciting process of change.
Harvey believes that a right understanding of our own sin is the necessary first step to happiness in marriage. Avoiding the psychological discussions that fill the pages of popular needs based resources, he instead encourages readers to understand how the cross can transform our conflicts, our weakness, yes, even our sex lives.
Dave Harvey has written a very helpful and gospel-centered book on relationships in general and marriage in particular. He writes in a conversational style that makes the book almost sound like transcribed sermon manuscripts, but in this case that is not such a bad thing. The style of the prose makes for very easy and engaging reading.
When Sinners Say I Do is not a list of do’s and don’ts in marriage, nor a how-to manual for Christian marriage. It is something better. It is a roadmap for life, a guide saturated with Scripture and the gospel for those of us who admit we are hopeless sinners and who seek forgiveness, salvation, and life at the foot of the cross of Christ.
This book is not just useful for those who are married, though that obviously is its direct application. As I read it, I kept thinking about how most of these principles are applicable in any close relationship.
Dave brings a humorous and light touch to a heavy subject, creating a winsome and appealing approach to an important topic.
When Sinners Say “I Do” is mostly a practical theology book on marriage (isn’t all good theology practical?). Many marriage books are highly practical but lacking in Christ-centeredness. They stress the importance serving each other but ultimately miss the entire reason we do it; to bring honor to the name of Christ. Stressing our sin and the centrality of the gospel sets this book apart from all the rest. Dave Harvey not only focuses on theology but explains its practical implications in marriage communication, physical intimacy, and even the death of a soul mate. This convicting summary of what a Christ-centered marriage should look like is one of the most important books I could recommend to a married couple of 5 days or 50 years.
“Dave Harvey skillfully exposes the real root of most marriage problems—each spouse is still a sinner. But he doesn’t leave us to wallow in our sins. He shows the way out through the ongoing power of the gospel. This book will be helpful for any married couple whether they’ve been married five weeks or fifty years.” —Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness
“This is a wonderful book. It is honest, refreshing, practical, and above all biblical. These carefully written pages spill over with truth and grace. This book is liberating and Christ-centered, pointing the way to God-empowered marriages.” —Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven
“Dave Harvey not only offers a biblical diagnosis of marital strife, but prescribes the cure as well—the gospel. When Sinners Say “I Do” provides clarity in conflict, hope in despair, and points the way to a joy-filled, God glorifying marriage.” —C.J. Mahaney, author of Humility