Book Review. “Love and War.” By John and Stasi Eldredge

Synopsis:
There could not be a better title for a book on marriage than Love & War. For many of the comedians and critics, they stay away from marriage for the sake of war that they might lay a strong hold on to what they conceive is love in the single and promiscuous life. What they do not realize is that the war is not meant to be between spouses, but against all of the enemies that come against the covenantal couple. Sadly, however, our world sees more couples at war against each other than for each other; and this only goes to feed the lie that marriage is better left untouched. It is this ignorance that John and Stasi go to war against.

Best Line of the Book:
“God lures us into marriage through love and sex and loneliness, or simply the fact that someone finally paid attention–all those reasons that you got married in the first place. It doesn’t really matter, he’ll do whatever it takes. He lures us into marriage and then he uses it to transform us. (p47-48)”

The Good and the Bad:
John and Stasi write to help married couples make sense of the mess they are in, and they also write to help unmarried couples understand the mess they are inevitably getting themselves in when they say vow their vows. The mess is inevitable because marriage at its core is made up of two sinful sinners sinning regularly, trying to turn 2 individual lives into 1 flesh. The institution of marriage demands pure selflessness (both in the living and in the forgiving), and this is hard for a creature who by nature does all things for itself.

An area of major focus in the book is that of spiritual warfare. This is obviously a hot topic of debate and it will not be discussed entirely here, however I will give a couple of thoughts to this. There are typically 2 areas of thought when it comes to spiritual warfare: either the Devil and his team are everywhere or they are nowhere. As C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters, the best weapon of Satan is to trick people into believing he does not exist. For me, I believe that Satan “prowls like a Lion” but practically it does not have much effect on my every day living. I blame my flesh and its attraction to the world more than I blame Satan for my sin, but I do not give enough credit to Satan for his attempts to break apart my marriage.

Time and time again they remind the reader that 1-God loves marriage, 2-marriage is hard, 3-your flesh hates marriage, and 4-Satan hates a healthy marriage that glorifies God. They tell us that if they had to narrow down their “top 3” things to help your marriage, they would be 1-to find life in God, 2-Deal with your brokenness and 3-Learn to shut down the spiritual attacks that come against your marriage. In chapter 5 (How to Have a Really Good Fight) they bring up some very good insights into how to look after and protect your marriage from the real threats that the Enemy and his team have cooked up for you. I found this chapter to be very insightful and helpful as I reflected upon my own heart and my own marriage. However as the book rolls on, they seem to overly go back to how the Enemy creeps into everything. They don’t take away personal responsibility, but I believe they focus far too much on Satan and his work. That is my major critique for the book.

Conclusion:
Overall I think this book can help many marriages. They give a lot of practical advice that is based on what I believe is the strongest basis for a healthy marriage: humility and the Gospel. The book is not an exegetical gem, however, and in this many weaknesses show. Even still the experience and wisdom that flows from them through their personal experiences and counseling exceptional and very helpful for any marriage, whether in pre-marriage, year 1 or year 50.

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One response to this post.

  1. This book caught my eye for one simple reason, I love the writings of John and Stasi. They write in such a way that it makes you feel like you are talking to friends instead of reading a book. They also write in a very blunt style sometimes that I like. It’s not sugar coated. “Love and War” starts out like that. In the first three devotionals they mentioned every time that marriage is hard.
    I wasn’t able to finish the whole book in time to get this review done but what I did read is fantastic. It’s a way to sit down with your spouse every day and get insight into what the other is thinking and feeling. There is a prayer every day and a scripture verse that goes along with what they are talking about for the day.

    Reply

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