Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Q&A with Tim Keller on the Meaning of Marriage

I’m looking forward to reading Tim Keller’s soon-to-be-released book, The Meaning of Marriage (published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK). Meanwhile, Christianity Today carries a brief interview with him on the subject here.

Asked about what type of book it is and how it differs from others on the topic, he notes that it began as a series of sermons, and that ‘when you preach, the sermon usually goes from the theological to the more polemical and into the practical’.

‘On a practical level, the church doesn’t do a great job of giving people a vision for what God wants marriage to be. I actually think that’s a way that my book is somewhat different in that it’s almost as much for a non-married person as for a married person. I actually think, in the end, what is very practical for both singles and married people is they need to get a breathtaking vision for what marriage should be. I don’t know if the strictly theological, strictly polemical, and strictly practical books do that.’

He says some nice things about ‘freedom’, that the contemporary view of freedom is negative – freedom from obligation – whereas the biblical view is freedom of – ‘freedom of joy, the freedom of realizing what I was designed to be’.

‘If you don't bind yourself to practice the piano for eight hours a day for ten years, you'll never know the freedom of being able to sit down and express yourself through playing beautiful music.’

And there are some brief comments on what I suspect will be the most chewed-over element of the book by its readers – egalitarian or complementarian?

‘On the one hand, we [Keller and his wife, Kathy] say there is such a thing as male headship. It is irreducible in the home and in the church. But then, the details of what it looks like are almost completely un-spelled out. There are hints, but they are not laid out. We think it’s a principle for all times, all places, and all cultures, so if you had any list of specifics, it would make the principle less applicable. Complementarians admit the principle, but they always add a list of specifics that they treat as universal. Egalitarians won’t admit the principle. So, you might say we’re complementarians who endorse the principle that the husband and wife say “yes, the husband is the head,” but then we expect couples to come up with what that’s going to look like in their own marriage. Just don’t punt on the principle.’

No comments: