The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller – Chp 3 – The Essence of Marriage


Opening Prayer

Ice Breaker

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. One of the key issues in Chapter 3 is the difference between viewing marriage as a covenant (where the good of the relationship takes precedence over the needs of the individual) or as a consumer relationship (where the wants and needs of the individual take precedence over the good of the relationship) (80-82).  How would a marriage where the husband and wife view their relationship as a covenant be different from a marriage where the husband and wife view their marriage as a consumer relationship?
  2. How do you define love? Is love an emotion or is it an action? How does our definition of love make a difference in marriage over the long term?
  3. People often question the value of marriage when they say, “I don’t need a piece of paper to love someone.”  But marriage makes a huge difference to a relationship and creates an environment for love to grow and mature in a way that cohabitating never can.  How can a love relationship between a man and a woman be enhanced by…the legal aspects of marriage (84-86)?…the promise of future love given in marriage (86-89)?…the vow of commitment given in marriage (89-92)?…the sanctuary of trust created by marriage (92-94)?
  4. Read the paragraph in the middle of page 106 which begins, “So when someone says,…”
  5. It is commonly thought that love, and passionate love in particular, is diminished and perhaps extinguished altogether by any thought of obligation or commitment (84-85).  In other words, love is a feeling that arises spontaneously.  In opposition to this view, Timothy Keller writes, “So if your definition of ‘love’ stresses affectionate feelings more than unselfish actions, you will cripple your ability to maintain and grow strong love relationships. On the other hand, if you stress the action of love over the feeling, you enhance and establish the feeling.  That is one of the secrets of living life, as well as of marriage” (100).  What do you think about Keller’s statement? What would a marriage look like when the action of love is stressed over and above affectionate feelings?
  6. What is the essence of marriage?
  7. Read beginning with the paragraph that starts at the bottom of page 107 with, “Think, for a moment, how different a parent’s relationship is with a child….” to the end of chapter 3.

Closing Prayer Time

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About James Paulgaard

Living in the in between, becoming, but not quite there yet, old and new mixed together, hanging on with all my might to the One who is holding onto me.
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