Last summer I officiated six different weddings for six very different couples and, if I’d known of it at the time, Are You Waiting for “The One”? is a book I would have recommended to each of them. Unlike so many Christian books about marriage, Margaret and Dwight Peterson have written an immensely down to earth book, providing a seasoned alternative to so much starry-eyed fluff.
This isn’t to say that the authors are cynical about love or romance, only that they’re interested in them within the unglamorous conditions of real life over the span of many years. From this vantage point they address the question in the book’s title with refreshing honesty.
Giving up the quest for the perfect mate can mean an embrace of the truly best: the truth that while you are not perfect, you might be the right person for someone else, and that someone else, while not perfect, might be the right person for you.
One of the current challenges for our churches is how we talk about marriage. We have a sense that Christian marriage ought to be distinctive from cultural assumptions but get wobbly on the specifics. For example, we boil down our theology of sexuality to: before marriage, don’t; after marriage, do. Here the authors are very helpful as they view each of their topics through a practical theological lens.
This approach is apparent throughout, but I especially noticed it each time the authors turned to the subject of children and procreation. Contraception, the historic teaching of the church, changing cultural assumptions, and a Biblical view of hospitality are all considered when discussing children. While making clear the prominent place the church has traditionally given in marriage to procreation and child rearing, the Peterson’s also show the extent to which many Christian families are simply beginning from the same cultural starting point as their non-Christian neighbors. For those beginning at this place, Are You Waiting for “The One”? offers a wealth of gracious provocations and invitations to consider the surprises and possibilities of Christian marriage.
I have two minor complaints with easily commendable book. First, the authors rarely reference their own marriage. It would have been helpful to hear how their perspectives and theological applications have played out in their lives over their years together. Second, as college professors most of their examples come from their undergraduate students. While these provide plenty of fodder and foil, I can’t imagine the stories would resonate with those outside of that unique stage of life.
But these are quibbles and shouldn’t hinder a wide audience from appreciating the book. I’m not sure how many weddings I’ll participate in this year, but it’s likely I’ll recommend that each couple dip into these pages in the months before and after the wedding.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
6 thoughts on “Are You Waiting for “The One”?”
good thoughts man. too bad they hadn’t published the books last summer – now we’re DOOMED! DOOOOOMMMEED!
I just heard of this book recently from a few sources. When I saw you were reviewing it, I clicked over right away. I am curious about how they handle contraception, based on what I’ve heard and the brief mention you’ve made here.
I think they’re very even-handed in their treatment of contraception. They do a good job of pointing out the ways that contraception has shifted how children are viewed within a marriage while not making blanket statements.
I’d be curious to hear your take should you read the book Leigh.
What a thoughtful, positive review. Thank you, David.
To speak to your two “minor complaints”: in our class, we do tell a lot of our own stories, partly out of a desire to teach by example what it looks like to reflect on one’s own experiences through a Christian theological lens (and partly because we, like most people, enjoy talking about ourselves!). In the book, we wanted to let our students’ voices be heard. But if you’d like to hear some of our stories, just give us a call–we like interviews!
On the subject of whether our students’ stories will resonate with those who are not in this age group: a group we hope will form an audience for our book is the parents of teens and twenty-somethings. Young people long for their parents to gain some insight into the challenges and opportunities facing them, and we hope our book can help do that. But we’ve also heard from readers outside that demographic–I’m thinking of one older lady whose husband read the book, and who reported to us afterwards that she thought it had done him, and their relationship, some noticeable good. Of course we were pleased! But perhaps not really surprised–lessons like, Be kind to one another, are good for all of us, no matter what stage of life or marriage we’re in.
Thanks again for your kind words.
Thanks for stopping by and filling in these details. And thanks to your and your husband for writing such a helpful book.
It would be a pleasure to host a quick interview on my blog if you’re up for it.
Sure. Maybe next week? Dwight’s in the hospital, but probably coming home Friday. Just email us, and we can set up a time to talk.