Dr. Tony Evans of ‘The Urban Alternative’, delivers his third instalment in the panoply of his marriage series, with this book. Written against the backdrop of alarming divorce statistics in the U.S., he presents a posteriori to this quandary. Roughly 50% of all marriages in America-whether Christian or non-Christian end up in divorce, and most of the other 50% who stay together do so for the children, financial reasons, or convenience-and not necessarily because they have a thriving, loving home. He proffers that because of this, the majority of these couples spend their time reacting to issues rather than proactively building a strong foundation for marriage. He further posits that the end result of this is a family crisis in our world. Around 35% of all our children today are being raised in a fatherless home. That number shoots to a whopping 67% if you are African-American.
The gravitas of writing this book is pegged on the fundamental premise that the institution of marriage was created by God for the purpose, prosperity, protection, and propagation of civilisation. That the disintegration of the family is the single most devastating internal issue facing America in general and the world in general. The Washington D.C.-based Brookings Institution’s findings corroborates his assertion. These findings reveal that roughly $229 billion in welfare expenses delivered from 1970 through 1996 were directly tied to deterioration of the previously established institution of marriage, which in turn led to a dramatic increase in societal upheaval through the increase of single-parent homes, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse, criminal activity, high school drop-outs and incarceration rates.
Dr. Tony Evans asserts that strong families hold the key to a strong society, while conversely, weak families lead to a weaker society. He further posits that this is so because every other institution in society is predicated on and dependent upon strong families. And that you can’t have strong families without God as the centrepiece of the marriage union that ties that family together.
To this end, he proffers three facets to ensure strong families;
- Transcendence-Which simply means recognising that God is in-charge. That as marriage is a covenant, therefore like all covenants, it is initiated and rule by God. This facet therefore asserts that in order for a covenant to successfully function, carrying with it both the benefits and security that a covenant supplies, it has to be set up according to God’s expectations and regulations.
- Hierarchy-Here, he puts it to us that as our God is a God of order, he created the institution of marriage to reflect a certain order too. That is, the man is the head of the relationship. Whenever the man gives up his spiritual headship, and whenever a woman takes up that spiritual headship, that is an invitation to the Devil to come into the garden. Satan is invited when roles get flipped.
- Ethics- This involves three interdependent elements; rules, sanctions, and continuity. To this effect, he argues that there are only two rules for marriage as seen in the book of Ephesians 5. That one, the man should love his own wife even as himself, two, that the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
There is this and so much more in this book! Dr. Tony Evans, as he has always done in his previous books, conscientiously demystifies the biblical principles to establishing and maintaining a successful relationship and marriage. He discusses herein at length, the concepts of the Holy trinity, the concept of submission, and makes sense of biblical passages, and their relation to the institution of marriage.
For example, on the easy to misconstrue issue of the woman being a helper, he argues that;
“Part of a man’s headship role is in recognising that there is a person near him who understands him and who can give him a perspective that he did not otherwise have. Therefore, any man who does not utilise his mate for her mind, skills, intellect, training, and her giftedness is not a wise kingdom man.”
At the expense of writing too long a review, I have to put here two of his pieces of advice that spoke to me.
On the issue of incompatibility and a couple being different, he holds that;
“In light of God’s plan for wholeness in marriage, one of the most uninformed statements that a husband or wife can make is, ‘We are not compatible.’ Or ‘We are as different as night and day.’ Of course you are-if both of you were the same, one of you would be unnecessary. The reason you need each other is because you are different.”
…But the issue is not our differences, we’re supposed to be different. The issue is making these God-given differences work for us instead of against us.”
“When God made woman, He made her to be a receiver and responder. He made her a little softer, a little warmer, a little more emotional, in order to respond to man. In other words, woman responds to man in such a way that the very thing the husband wants, he will receive by giving, not demanding.”
What potent piece of advice.
Anyone who is currently in a relationship and seeks to understand it, and his/her role in it better, or anyone not in a relationship but seeks to have a fruitful one, should get themselves a copy of this book A.S.AP.!
REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO