The book I have to review for you today deviates from my usual read. Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up About We by Claire & Eli is an interesting read that I received courtesy of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books Program. A book about love is appropriate for Valentine’s week, huh?
Here is a description of the book from the publishers:
Mar•riage-hap•py \mar´-ij-hap´e¯\ adj 1: Having an inordinate preoccupation with marital pursuits, sometimes at the cost of other Christian priorities, commonly seen in evangelicals. 2: A giddiness stemming from all things related to marriage.
In the frenzied pursuit of romance, Christians sometimes lose sight of the greatest commandments: to love God and to love others. Distracted by wedding bells and exuberant hopes for a happily-ever-after, Christians often forget the greater vision of Christ’s call to love.
What if God is less worked up about marriage than we are?
With honesty and insight, Claire and Eli ask us to shift our thinking away from marriage or singleness and toward love and discipleship.
Drawing from luminaries like Augustine, the Desert Fathers, and Bonhoeffer, they invite you to join their real-life exploration of love as they convincingly demonstrate why a love for God and for one’s neighbor are to be our top priorities, whether we are single or married.
As usual, my five point review:
- Overall, this book is based on an interesting premise for the Christian evangelical/church community: marriage, singleness, relationships and their stances on love are not as important as love and discipleship, as following Jesus is. Most Christians would say that following Jesus DOES supercede pursuing relationships, but in practice, things aren’t always that simple. So in one way, this book is a refreshing look at a topic of interest for many young adults, and a challenging one at that.
- On the other hand, Claire and Eli write this book as a couple–but not a married couple. The details of that are best left to the book [the format of which alternates the story of their relationship with their exploration of the question: "should I get married?"]. Though Ben and I have been married for almost five years now [wow!], I don’t claim to be an expert on marriage… but would I recommend it? Absolutely. I just feel that their position in life doesn’t exactly give them authority to write such an opinionated piece on marriage. If you aren’t married, you can’t understand it–period.
- The two biggest beefs I have with their exploration of the topic is that a) they generalize on the Christian experience with marriage A LOT, and b) their explorations of Biblical passages on marriage [i.e. 1 Corinthians 7, Matthew 22] are kind of weak. The generalizations stem from the fact that they assume all Christian leaders encourage marriage above anything else, and therefore that young single Christians [or single Christians of any age] idolize marriage. I think that can be true, but isn’t necessarily true, and their critique of the church in that respect seems a bit unfounded. Secondly, I just feel their use of scripture [while they do bring up good points] is somewhat weak and excludes the context in which it was written, as well as the backgrounds of the authors.
- I thought the book was written in a very beautiful way. Parts of the book [their story] read like a novel. You feel like a friend is talking to you, and letting you into their fun romance. Props to a writing team succeeding at this!
- Generally speaking, I think this book has its place and I would recommend it to believers who are struggling with prioritizing marriage over any other relationship. I think it is a good call to discipleship: to serve God wherever you are, to seek God, and to build relationships in a variety of contexts. I think the book just has to be read in a discerning way, and the novel-like, familiar way parts of it are written can easily bring your guard down.
What are you reading lately?
Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the chance to read this great book!