19 Brides and Grooms, 19 Cakes, One Ceremony

Pastor’s challenge yields mass nuptials

[The Pastor ] challenged singles in the audience who are living together but not married. He invited them to meet with him after church to discuss honoring God by getting married. He said the church and volunteers would pay all expenses – which he said totaled just under $10,000, about $500 per couple. Forty couples responded; 19 completed counseling and will marry Sunday.

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Book Review - Just How Married Do You Want to Be?

Paperback, 178 pages
IVP Books (September 2008)
ISBN-10: 0830833935
ISBN-13: 978-0830833931

Jim and Sarah Sumner knew from the start of their relationship that they were an unlikely match. A former male stripper and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School were just not meant to be together—or so many people thought. But twelve years (and many counseling sessions) later, Jim and Sarah are still married, minister beside each other, and have recently released a book together. Just How Married Do You Want to Be? is the theology and story of how they’re overcoming massive differences to become one in Christ.

As the subtitle, “Practicing Oneness in Marriage,” suggests, their book aims to move beyond the classic stereotypes that characterize most Christian marriages. Instead of discussing gender roles within marriage, the Sumners focus on the biblical concept of “one flesh” union and its resulting implications. This approach allows them to attempt a middle road between the complementarian/egalitarian debate that has been raging in broader evangelicalism.

Theological Shift

Because the Sumners are attempting to establish what they term a “new paradigm,” a significant portion of the book is given to a theological overview of the concept of headship, especially as it is expressed in the head/body metaphor of Ephesians 5:22-33. In these chapters, they contribute an interesting, if somewhat novel, perspective to the current discussion. Rather than emphasizing hierarchy, the Sumners argue that the headship imagery of Ephesians 5 is primarily teaching the intrinsic “oneness” of a married couple.

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"Recovery of a biblical understanding of marriage and family is itself a witness to the gospel and to the grace and mercy of God in giving humanity these good gifts."

Al Mohler evaluates God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Kostenberger & Jones.

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Marital Loyalty

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections. It appears here verbatim.

The following caption in Sunday’s newspaper caught my attention: Old-fashioned, long-lasting marriage is suddenly trendy. In the article that followed, Baltimore Sun columnist, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, presented evidence of a trend toward marital commitment among pop-culture icons.

Tan noted, for instance, that actor Brad Pitt was voted “2000’s Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. Indicating a shift in cultural perspective, Pitt attained this distinction not as an eligible bachelor but as newly-wed to Jennifer Aniston. One of Pitt’s female co-stars expressed the new perspective this way: “There’s something gorgeous about his commitment” (Star Tribune, January 21, 2001).

Beyond the popular scene (which seems to change with each wind that blows), there is mounting evidence of a broad-scale interest in marriage. Sociologists are discovering in their research what popular authors are beginning to declare in writing: marriage commitment is on the rise.

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Until Death Do Us Part

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections. It appears here verbatim.
1120381_romantique.jpgOn Palm Sunday, 1996, a young couple visited our church. That was the first day in a seven year saga no words could justly recount, but let me try.

Brandon and Jennifer were perfect together. They were full of life: energetic, focused, self-disciplined, in great physical shape and in love.

Contemplating marriage, they had determined to do things right, which involved the sticky business of finding a common religion. Hailing from different backgrounds they began an earnest study of their childhood religions. But after nearly a year of investigation they had accumulated more questions than answers.

Following that Palm Sunday service, they asked if I would be willing to meet with them to answer a few questions. Two days later we met at my office. According to Jennifer’s later recollection, I held a Bible in my hand and assured them at the start of our session that in this book we could find the answer to every spiritual question.

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