Excerpts from Chapter 1

What Really Matters in Marriage

Theologians at the Altar

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…Everybody views life from a perspective—what some call a worldview. Our worldview is shaped by many things: our culture, our gender, our upbringing, our present situation, etc. The most profound thing that shapes anybody’s worldview is their understanding of God. What a person believes about God determines what he or she thinks about how we got here, what our ultimate meaning is, and what happens after we die. So essentially our worldview, our perspective on life, is determined by our perspective on God. And when we talk about theology, all we are talking about is what we think about God. What you truly believe about God and what it means to live for God is your theology. In other words, theologians aren’t just really smart old guys in seminaries, or really smart dead guys in cemeteries . . . you’re a theologian too! Listen to a well-known theologian of our day, R. C. Sproul:

No Christian can avoid theology. Every Christian is a theologian. Perhaps not a theologian in the technical or professional sense, but a theologian nevertheless. The issue for Christians is not whether we are going to be theologians but whether we are going to be good theologians or bad ones.

What kind of theologian are you? It’s not hard to tell. Whether we realize it or not, our ideas about life, needs, marriage, romance, conflict, and everything else reveal themselves all the time in our words and deeds, inevitably reflecting our view of God. If you listen closely, theology spills from our lips every day. See if you recognize it in this slice of conversation.

“It really frustrates me when you do that!”

“Yeah, well, whatever! That’s just the way I am—it’s not my fault that it pushes all the wrong buttons for you.”

“You don’t really care about what I need, do you?”

“What you need? What about what I need? My feelings don’t seem to matter at all in this marriage.”

“Why can’t you trust me?”

A typical word-duel for a married couple? Perhaps. But it’s far more than that. Such simple statements, which every married person might think (even if we don’t always speak them), come from hearts that have adopted certain assumptions about who we are, what we need, what’s really important, and how God figures into it all. In a conversation like this, theology is being backed out of the garage and taken for a spin.

That might not be obvious to you right now but I trust it will become more clear as this book progresses. A good, everyday spouse-theologian can see in this conversation that beliefs about God and self, about problems and relationships, and about right and wrong are being hotly defended and argued. It’s there in the vocabulary . . . “frustrates.” It’s revealed in the reference points . . . “what I need.” And it’s displayed through the underlying assumptions . . . “just the way I am.”

So make no mistake about it. How a husband and wife build their marriage day-by-day and year-by-year is fundamentally shaped by their theology. It governs how you think, what you say, and how you act. Your theology governs your entire life. And it determines how you live in your marriage.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 2

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