Subtitled "Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage," this 183-page book conveys the following premise: "What we believe about God determines the quality of our marriage." Dave Harvey believes that marriage models Christ's relationship with his bride, the church. This model flows throughout the book. Just as our problems with God are caused by sin, so our problems with our spouses are caused by sin. Just as grace is God's response to us, grace should be our response to our husband or wife.
A plan for addressing conflict is outlined in chapter four. First, we must look to ourselves for the fault. Second, we inspect ourselves with integrity and honesty. Next we "admit that circumstances only reveal existing sin," and lastly we extend grace to the other person instead of thinking about our unmet needs. Unmet needs are described by the author as a never-ending circle.
Further chapters discuss grace, forgiveness, confrontation, and steadfastness in marriage as demonstrated by Christ. There is a chapter devoted to sex. My favorite part was the description of married sex as a "journey of figuring out how to delight my spouse with my body," which is a lifelong journey. It turns the focus of sex into a gift you give each other.
The last chapter, "When Sinners Say Goodbye," sounds rather dismal, but it isn't. First, Dave Harvey addresses decline and then death. Many lessons abound in this chapter: making the most of today because tomorrow is no guarantee, thinking about things of eternal value, realizing that as our bodies waste away our spirits are renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16), and remembering that our marriages mirror our relationship with Christ and the eternal, abundant life we have in Him.
The accompanying study guide includes a summary of the text's chapters with an emphasis on one key idea per chapter. There are Gospel Application questions for individuals and couples. A section called Gospel Interaction has small group discussion questions. Finally, there is a quote, a Scripture reference to look up, and a space for personal notes.
These books lend themselves to pre-marital counseling classes or a Bible study for married couples. Certainly individuals who are married would benefit from reading and studying When
Sinners Say "I Do", whether or not their spouses joined them in the endeavor.