The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller – Chp 4 – The Mission of Marriage

Opening Prayer

Ice Breaker

Resting in the Text:  Ephesians 5:18-33 (p. 19 of The Meaning of Marriage)

Discussion Questions:

  1. As he seeks, in this chapter, to explain the purpose of marriage, Timothy Keller writes, “The Bible’s answer to this question [what is the purpose of marriage] starts with the principle that marriage is a friendship” (110).  Later he writes, “There are two features of a real friendship—constancy and transparency” (112).  Describe what transparency and constancy look like in a marriage where a husband and wife are truly friends.
  2. Timothy Keller tells us, “Friendship is only possible when there is a common vision and passion” (114).  How can two followers of Jesus be friends in a greater way than one or both are not?
  3. How does thinking of marriage as a union of two best friends supersede both western views of marriage, which emphasize romance and sex, and traditional views of marriage, which see it as a way to enhance social status and security (117-118)?
  4. Keller asks, “What, then, is marriage for?  It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us.  The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have.  I can think of no more powerful common horizon than that, and that is why putting a Christian friendship at the heart of a marriage relationship can lift it to a level that no other vision for marriage approaches” (120-121). How can a husband and a wife encourage each other in sharing this Great Horizon?
  5. Keller describes a marriage between two people both looking forward to the Great Horizon in this way, “It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me!  I want to be part of that.  I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne.  And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, “I always knew you could be like this.  I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”’  Each spouse should see the great thing that Jesus is doing in the life of their mate through the Word, the gospel.  Each spouse then should give him- or herself to be a vehicle for that work and envision the day that you will stand together before God, seeing each other presented in spotless beauty and glory” (121).  If you are married, describe what great thing is Jesus doing in the life of your mate through the Word, the gospel?
  6. If you are single, which is better:  to see if a relationship with a good friend of the opposite sex could turn into a romantic relationship, or to pursue a romantic relationship with a person who you would never really consider for a friend?
  7. What are some examples of pseudo-spouses (127-130)?  What impact can a pseudo-spouse have on a marriage?
  8. Keller writes, “Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole” (131).  What are some examples of how the strength or weakness of a person’s marriage can affect whether they have strength or weakness as they make their way in the world?  Why does marriage have that kind of power?

Read beginning with the paragraph that starts at the bottom of page 132 with, “Is all this a lot of work?…” to the end of chapter 4.

Closing Prayer Time

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