By Adam McLane This is how many books on marriage are marketed to the reader–the author takes the position as a expert guiding the reader through several easy steps to relational bliss. If the reader will merely submit to the author's successful plan, the reader's marriage and in turn, life will be much easier. To further the stereotype, the covers of these books often depict a happily married couple who look as though they've never had an argument as they look longingly in to one another's eyes sporting smiles befitting a Cialis commercial. Fortunately, Craig Groeschel, in his book Going All the Way: Preparing for a Marriage that Goes the Distance, takes a refreshingly realistic angle on marriage. Craig's style flies in the face of the typical, resulting in a page turning book on relationships. That's right–a book on relationships actually worth reading!
Groeschel equates most modern marriage wisdom to idolatry. Often in Christian circles one hears phrases like “You have to keep your marriage first no matter what you do.” Craig corrects that statement by pointing to a proper order in creation. God created man and woman to have relationships first with God, then with each other. When an individual is secure in his or her relationship with God only then is he or she prepared for what Groeschel calls our number Two relationship. “Jesus loves you. He's your One. And He will lead you to your Two. Don't settle for a third runner-up, fourteenth place, or the last-place straggler you have pity on.” This concept, profoundly simple, prioritizes loving God over loving one another.
The thing that truly sticks out about this book is its focus on restoration. Craig doesn't shy away from his own failures to lead the reader into the reality that past failures do not guarantee future failures. Without going into gory details, Craig shares how he treated many women in his life prior to giving his life to Christ. And just when you think, “Can a pastor really say that?”, heshares how he struggled to treat Christian women with respect as a new believer. “I'd occasionally allow friendships with girls to get too close. I knew deep down I shouldn't spend so much time with girls who were only friends. I suspected they liked me, and I allowed things to continue, inadvertently leading them on because I enjoyed their company. That was selfish and wrong.” He captures the thought patterns of temptation as he walks us through the human patterns and justifications that lead us to destructive behavior. Rather than spending a lot of time attempting to convince the reader that things are right or wrong biblically, Groeschel focuses on the personal recognition that bad choices destroy our healthy personhood.
Whether your task is to prepare couples for an upcoming marriage or you are learning about relationships with the opposite sex yourself, this book is fantastic. Since the book is written from a male perspective it may even be a marriage preparation book that men will read. Better yet, if the Biblical principles Craig presents are taken seriously by men and women, marriages in your church will be transformed. At the end of the day you don't need just another book about relationships–you need a book about relationships between men and women that people will actually read. When you hand this book to a couple you can be confident that they will have a great guide in helping them to go all the way.
Going All the Way: Preparing for a Marriage that Goes the Distance is available at book retailers all over, and of course the YMX Bookstore.