The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller – Chp 6 – Embracing the Other

Opening Prayer

Ice Breaker

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. Author Kathy Keller writes, “Male and female are ‘like opposite’ to one another.  They are like two pieces of a puzzle that fit together because they are not exactly alike or randomly different, but they are differentiated such that together they can create a complete whole.  Each sex is gifted for different steps in the Great Dance” (174).  How would you describe what she means in your own words?
  2. She continues, “Genesis 3 recounts the Fall, in which both man and woman sin against God and are expelled from the Garden of Eden. We immediately see the catastrophic change in the unity between man and woman.  The air is filled with blame shifting, finger pointing, and accusation.  Rather than their Otherness becoming a source of completion, it becomes an occasion for oppression and exploitation. The woman remains dependent and desirous of her husband, but it turns into an idolatrous desire, and his protection and love become a selfish lust and exploitation” (174). How would you describe a situation where a married couple’s Otherness “…becomes an occasion for oppression and exploitation”?
  3. Have someone read Philippians 2:5-11 aloud.  How does Jesus’ submission help us to submit to the Other?
  4. On pages 175-6, Kathy describes the “dance of the Trinity” a dance that “[m]ale and female are invited to mirror and reflect…[in] loving, self-sacrificing authority and loving, courageous submission” (176).  What do you think about the dance of the Trinity?  What would it be like for a husband and wife to mirror and reflect that dance?
  5. How do Jesus’ definitions of authority and leadership differ from the world’s definitions?  What difference do Jesus’ definitions make?
  6. Kathy Keller defines the biblical role of a husband as “…that of savior, a servant-leader, who uses his authority and power to express a love that doesn’t even stop at dying for the beloved” (178).  Women, how do feel about the thought of submitting to a husband who loves you in that way?  Men, would you, with God’s help, be willing to commit to loving your wife (or future wife) in that way?
  7. Kathy Keller says that, generally speaking, men have the “sending” gift of independence and women have the “receiving” gift of interdependence (180).  What are some ways that each of these gifts is a blessing from God?  What are two ways that each of these gifts can be turned into sin?
  8. Embracing the Other sometimes means more than embracing someone who is different.  In the midst of conflict rooted in gender differences, it can mean embracing qualities in the Other that make no sense to us and then we attribute a moral quality to those traits (i.e. they are wrong and bad) (182-3).  In situations like this how does Christ’s embrace of us sinners help us embrace the Other?
  9. Kathy tells us, “Only try this at home or within the community of believers, the church.  It is only safe for us sinners to attempt to rescue our royal heritage and our creation gifts of gender roles where resources such as repentance and forgiveness can be (and very often will need to be) accessed” (185).  What do you think of complementary gender roles?  What are your thoughts about Kathy’s position that they should be applied only in the church or at home?
  10. What are the benefits of complementary gender roles in a marriage?

As the discussion time comes to a close, have someone read aloud the paragraph that begins on the bottom of page 189 with, “Remember, this person is utterly unlike you…”

Closing Prayer Time

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