A Model Of Marriage, by Jack and Judith Balswick, provided practical wisdom to those who are married, want to be married, or have a desire to speak into a married couple’s life. Throughout the book, the authors integrate a robust biblical framework which identifies several aspects of a marital relationship.
The primary assertion the Balswicks make repeatedly throughout the book is as follows: “our love for each other, therefore, ultimately reflects the very love of the Father and Son from all eternity before there even was a creation.” Simply put, the Balwicks contend that the Triune nature of God offers an example of how a couple ought to be one in all that they do, yet distinct in person. They referred to this concept as differentiated unity. This approach was helpful because they provided an ample amount of reasons to back up their claims. Throughout the totality of the book, there is a continual reconnection to the nature of God. Consequently, the book is relatively easy to follow along with.
Typically, even for those who have been committed Christians for years, the concept of the Trinity, with regards to marriage, is anything but helpful. Thousands of divisions have occurred due to God’s triune nature including the formation of various denominations, the burning of heretics (i.e. Michael Michael Servetus), and the like. Contrary to the confusion that many experience, for one who can grasp the basis of the nature of God, the Trinity does provide a useful analogy for marriage. In all aspects of life, a couple is called to be one. Additionally, God created man and women unique and beautiful with their own strengths, weaknesses, and roles. The love and relationship within God’s nature lasts forever, and will never fade away. Although marriage does not continue into eternity, a married couple’s life on earth was meant to reflect the same never ending love. The Trinity offers the best model for examining a relationship characterized by unity within diversity. In addition, the Balswicks connected covenant and grace in a profound way. They note that covenant and grace are inextricably linked throughout the Bible. Man doesn’t deserve anything from God other than judgment, condemnation, and wrath, however, parallel to the Father in the Prodigal Son story, God continually bestows undeserved favor upon His rebellious children. He also cites the story of Hosea, who waits in line to buy back his bride who has willingly gave herself up to prostitution. God is like Hosea, always faithful to His bride, the church. This faithfulness is never completely reciprocated. That is why grace is necessary for covenant to work. In relation to covenant and grace we find the clearest picture of God’s intention of marriage. Marriage is a smaller picture of the greatest picture—God’s covenant with man.
Within the Trinity, each person is equal but has a different role. In the same sense, men and women are equal but have different roles. The man is head of the home in the same way Christ is the head of the church. Moreover, within the Trinity there is a oneness which is referred to as perichoresis which is a beautiful picture of the union marriage ought to reflect. There is also mutual submission within the Godhead. The Father sends the Son (John 3:16), the Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit (John 15:26), and the Son sends the church through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is all to the glory of the Father (Phil 2:11). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus accepts the Father’s will for Him to bear the weight of sin upon His shoulders (Luke 22:42). Therefore, submission, oneness, and differentiation can be implemented into one’s marriage based upon the very nature of God.
The primary strength of the book was how all-encompassing it was. It touched on nearly every topic I could imagine including Trinitarian theology, communication, conflict resolution, and romance.
One aspect of marriage, which the author failed to address, is the importance of solid friendships outside of one’s marriage. Certainly, time is limited, and once family becomes a reality, a couple must spend the majority of their time together. With that being said, some marital relationships experience an increased level conflict due to an unhealthy amount of time spent thereof. Having solid friendships to spend time with can help balance out a codependent relationship.
In conclusion, Balwick’s book on marriage has been instrumental to my understanding regarding God’s overall intention for a marital relationship. Although a lengthy read, anyone seeking to understand marriage, in relation to God’s intention, will undoubtedly benefit from giving this a read.