Monday, March 25, 2013

BookPastor >> "The Sacred Search" (Gary Thomas)

Gary Thomas has written several books and articles on marriage matters. This new book is for singles, and those preparing for marriage. The review below was first published on Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why?
AUTHOR: Gary Thomas
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2013, (256 pages).

This book is an exposition of Matthew 6:33 with regards to the 'why' of marriage that is more important than the 'who we marry.' In other words, before we get married, we need to ask the question of why do we want to marry in the first place. Many people are discouraged just to see how the statistics are skewing divorces and unhappy marriages more as a norm rather than an exception. It has even deterred people from seeking out getting married. Others are too concerned about who they should marry. For some, marriage is a cross, while for others, marriage is a test of faith. While it is true that there are pains and heartaches in marriages, Thomas wants to point out that there is hope. Rather than to marry and then regret the decision, the key task in this book is to search from the perspective of seeking God's Kingdom and God's Righteousness first, and to trust God to provide for our marital answers. The search begins with the ones who claim that their marriage situation is more an exception rather than a rule. In other words, God is faithful in everything except when it comes to their own marriage future or a happy marriage. The problem with this culture is that far too many people see happiness as the first priority in marriage. That largely explains the falling out of love and the failing marriages among many. Being in love just is not enough. Finding a 'right' partner is also insufficient. Mere romantic attraction as a reason to get married is also foolish.  The problem is that romantic love is "involuntary," hard to "control," and temporary. In order to start well, we need a spiritual redemption ourselves. Regulate both sexual passions, physical and psychological attractions with spiritual clarity toward wisdom and vulnerability. Thomas then speaks to both gender. First, he addresses the women, and challenges them to be more concerned for their boyfriends or husbands' spiritual conditions, especially godliness. In fact, godliness must be a higher priority than emotional connections or romantic skills. For the guys, avoid succumbing to gorgeous looks or sexual chemistry as a primary criterion. Find a wife who is seeking God's kingdom first! If both husband and wife are placing God's Kingdom first, they will get the answer to the "why" that helps them find the 'who."   Thomas makes some interesting observations, like why many girlfriends who are ready to defend their boyfriends before marriage, are more likely to complain and be critical of their husbands after marriage! For guys, the best chance at sexual fulfillment is not the appearance or act but a woman of virtue, who models Christlikeness and noble character. Thomas urges readers to look for "soul mates" rather than mere "sole mates." Rather than looking for one particular person to "complete us," seek to be the most complete biblical wife or husband that the Bible teaches. Far too many people are taking "short cuts" by using the idea of God's will to speedily get to their ideal wife or husband, when what is needed is the hard work of spiritual discernment, testing, and searching themselves whether they are seeking God's Kingdom and Righteousness first and foremost. There is also the danger of putting our marriage search into some kind of a "marriage lottery." Only in wisdom can we learn to discern the sacred search and the reason why we should or should not marry. 

Gary Thomas is no stranger to all things marriage. Known for his bestselling "sacred" titles, like Sacred Path, Sacred Marriage, and Sacred Parenting, Thomas extends his list to include the search for a marriage partner for singles and those contemplating marriage. Despite the many marriage related books and articles Thomas has written, there is still many glittering insights of his wisdom on marriage. Coupled with his ability to weave together ideas with words, stories with persons, and spiritual wisdom with biblical insights, Thomas has again provided readers with a guide on how to think properly on marriage, especially for singles and those yet to be married. A good beginning may not be absolutely essential in any good marriage, but it sure helps. What I appreciate is the way spirituality is discussed with the basic spiritual disciplines of believers. Like the heart that motivates the actions, the spiritual inspiration ignites the desire to make a marriage work. For me, his biggest gem in this book is a reminder to us that people are not things. We can find things like finding a phone to purchase, an idea to implement, a car to own, or a school to attend. Not people. Spouses are not people that we find in order to become perfect matches for us. Instead, a spouse is someone that we make, that we groom, that we encourage to become more like Christ, to seek God's Kingdom and God's Righteousness first. Do not marry because someone has all the aesthetic qualities or exceptional abilities, for they will slow down one day, or their skills will diminish. Neither should we marry someone simply because we show mercy or feel pity for that person, for soon we have to grapple with feeling pity for ourselves. Asking who we should marry is the secondary question. The primary question is "why" do we want to marry, which is a question that is intimately tied to Matthew 6:33. This is the sacred search.

Kudos to Gary Thomas again for an excellent book for singles and for those considering marriage. Pastors, counsellors, teachers, leaders, and even married couples will benefit greatly from reading this book.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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