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“Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Songs 2:15
The same book that begins with “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” (Song 1:2) tells us that there are little foxes that spoil the vineyard (Song 2:15). How many marriages have been entered into because of overwhelming love, only to be train wrecked because the couple didn’t know how to handle the little problems that came up? Even the Song testifies to this reality. They have great passion for each other, but they know there will be little problems that need to be taken care of. John Henderson, associate pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church, has written a book on marriage to be used in pre-marital counseling to help give soon-to-be-newlyweds the realistic expectation that they are two sinners who will be in a lifelong covenant together.
There are two parts to this book. Part One is Before the Wedding, and Part Two is After the Wedding. This book is primarily geared toward couples who are looking forward to marriage. It works best if they meet with an older couple for pre-marital counseling. This is obvious to see because of the book’s fifteen chapters, the first twelve are in Part One. Each chapter has Bible verses to study, questions to answer and the spaces in which to answer them.
The book begins with telling your story along with your fiancé’s story (ch 1). You explain your history, family, family matters, how Christ has worked in you life, how you met your fiancé, what you dream about, and more. The ways you have responded to life events before will show up again in your marriage. If you have run from problems, you will run again. If you blow up at people, you will blow up at your spouse. Understanding this ahead of time will help you to work on your little (and big) foxes. Marriage is meant to glorify God (ch 2). He is the reason for all things. You and your spouse live life pointing each other, sharpening each other, and encouraging each other to image God well.
When I first started dating Mari, I wanted to get to know as much about her as I could. Who cares about me? Tell me about you. Chapter three wants you to talk about yourself. What do you long for? What do you fear? You can’t please God on your own, but you need Christ. And when you follow him, he will work on you through your spouse, who now knows what you need help with.
Marriage, again, glorifies God (ch 4). Christians are in a gracious covenant brought about by the death of Christ (ch 5). He is eternally faithful to this covenant. He will keep you to him. The marriage covenant is also intended to be lifelong, where you both daily sacrifice yourselves for the other as Christ did all things for you. Husbands love their wives as Christ loved and died for his bride, the church (ch 6). Wives submit and follow their husbands (to honor the Lord) as the church follows after Christ (ch 7).
Conflict arises when the one-flesh couple tries to act as two people, disregarding the other spouse (ch 8). We don’t want to be corrected. Our words and attitudes are corrupt. So we trust the Lord and forgive one another (ch 9). We serve one another, overlooking each others faults as Christ graciously overlooks ours and forgives us.
Spouses can glorify Christ together in two important ways: their sexual union (ch 10) and their finances (ch 11). The media displays sex as easy and fulfilling, but newlyweds will quickly see that things aren’t always as they appear. Two become one flesh, but problems can arise because of past sexual immorality, sexual abuse, and pornography. On the positive side, spouses get to spend time learning together. When it comes to finances, a multitude of problems come because of this, Some spend too much, others pinch every penny. Even if they spend well, they want to spend on different interests. What one person loves another finds wasteful. This chapter encourages you to faithfully give to your church, to live sensibly, and to prepare for your future.
Chapter twelve offers lists on what you both expect in the marriage. Do you expect a spotless house? Who does the dishes? Will you pray together? How will you settle conflict? Quietly or by yelling? Will your parents interfere with the marriage? How quickly do you repent? Do you repent quickly? …Do you repent?
In Part Two, the chapter (13) also contains Agree/Disagree lists on how both the wedding day and the honeymoon went? In what parts of marriage is the Lord asking you to obey? What have you realized about your spouse that you really appreciate? How often do you pray together?
Life does not go as planned (ch 14). “Life happens,” and we want comfort. We want peace. We want things to go easy. But they do not. And usually our spouse gets the brunt of our frustration. You must fix our eyes on Jesus and remember that you need his grace. Focus on your own sin first before you look at your spouse’s.
In the last chapter, we see how community helps us to grow. All believers need to grow, even our spouses. Helping and serving is costly, but God gives us to one another to point us to Christ. We point out one another’s sins (graciously), and then point each other to Christ. Regard your spouse as a new creation, one of Christ’s siblings, a child of God. They have a special status, and you should not take that lightly. Enjoy it!
The book ends with an Appendix on a household budget with helpful tips on writing out a monthly budget on giving, taxes, expenses, and income.
Yes. There are a good few marriage books that Mari and I read after we were married that were really helpful. I think we had a pre-marital book by Wayne Mack, which was helpful, but we didn’t make it all the way through (I think we were spending most of our time figuring out visa issues). Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone to give us premarital counseling, which was unfortunate because it would have been really nice to get wisdom from an older couple on what is realistic to expect in marriage. This book is helpful to go through before you get married. Marriage is meant to last a lifetime. Why not get all the help you can before you start it? Know how to look for the small sins, the “little foxes,” and how to nip them in the bud before they grow and cause bigger problems.
- Author: John Henderson
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (February 28, 2018)
- Leader’s Guide
- Articles by Henderson:
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Disclosure: I received this book free from P & R Publishing. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.