This book, available at Desiring God, is amazing. There are few marriage books that I highly recommend for people to read before getting married - and this will definitely be on the list. This is a compilation of mostly sermons Piper preached at Bethlehem, some of which I had read before, but seriously - this is so good.
He talks about the seriousness of marriage and then what marriage symbolizes in the relationship of Christ and the church. Oh goodness - get this book!
"There has never been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough" (19) Many of us think that if we could just go back to the "good ole days" things would be better with our marriages. But, just because people stay together doesn't mean their marriages are godly and gospel affirming.
"Let the measure of God's grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse." (46) Wow - that's hard to live by. I've been so convicted, even in reading this book, that I need to offer more grace to others - because I don't give it enough. Lord, make me more gracious.
Piper quotes many of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison at the beginning of each chapter. This is one of them: "The wife should see her husband clothed in this dignity - head of the wife as Christ is head of the church" (30)
"Wives, let your fallen submission be redeemed by modeling it after God's intention for the church." (80). I think if we think about marriage in light of the redeemed church - our marriages (and my thoughts of marriage a single woman) would radically change.
"God promises those who remain single in Christ blessings that are better than the blessing of marriage and children - and he called you to display truths about Christ." (106) This is a measure of faith for me. No one in the world or in the church sees it this way. Marriage is so glorified. It is hard to be in a church and not be married. But, Lord - where my faith is weak - increase it.
"Have those attitudes and do those acts in your marital sexual relations that grow out of the contentment that comes from confidence in God's promises." (130) Since the bedroom has been so commercialized and publicized - many women (and men) find themselves overwhelmed with inadequacies and pressure to perform. Read this sentence and live by the gospel in EVERY aspect of marriage (and singleness).
"If it genuinely lies within you, by the grace of God, to throw yourself on the mercy of God for forgiveness, then He will free you from the guilt of the past. He will make a new, clear, sexual life possible in marriage." (132) I must offer grace and forgiveness. Who am I not to offer it when Christ has offered it through the Cross for all eternity.
So - go read this book. If you are married - it will help change your marriage - I would recommend reading it together (especially engaged couples) - they are short chapters (about 5-6 pages per chapter). And for singles - read it too - I don't think we can prepare enough. Whether we are to get married in the future, or whether we are to support our brothers and sisters in their marriages.
And speaking of marriage as a topic, I've been reading some great posts for wives over at the Girl Talk blog. This needs to go up as a reminder. Because even though I am yet to be married, it says all the days of her life: that means that even before I am married I need to be bringing my husband good all days of my life." That means I will guard my heart and my body and my mind - all for him - mostly for the glory of God!