Marriage with Jesus as the Center
As a biblical counselor and Pastor of Counseling, I do a lot of marriage counseling. In the midst of the messiness of most marriage counseling, I often find myself thinking, “What could this couple have done before their marriage to help them to build their marriage on a Christ-centered foundation?”
I know one of my answers to that question. “I wish someone had walked with them through Rob Green’s book, Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong & Lasting Marriage.” Rob would be the first to tell you that going through his premarital guide does not guarantee that a couple will never struggle in their marriage. But here’s what I’ve seen. Couples that use Tying the Knot build their house upon the Rock—Christ. When the rain falls, the flood comes, and the winds of life beat upon the marriage, the marriage can endure—survive and thrive—because it has been founded on the Rock (Matt. 7:24-27).
The title of each chapter/session in Tying the Knot beautifully communicates this Christ-centered focus:
- Jesus Must Be the Center of Your Life
- Love with Jesus as the Center
- Problem Solving with Jesus as the Center
- Roles and Expectations with Jesus as the Center
- Communication with Jesus as the Center
- Finances with Jesus as the Center
- Community with Jesus as the Center
- Intimacy with Jesus as the Center
Premarital Counseling with Self or with Jesus as the Center
Think about those eight areas (life, love, problem solving, roles/expectations, communication, finances, community, and intimacy) as they relate to premarital counseling. They can be addressed with self as the center or with Jesus as the center.
Take communication as one example. We can teach a spouse-to-be the communication principles in Ephesians 4:25-5:2. If that spouse has a godly heart, then those principles can be used to honor Christ and bless their spouse. However, if that spouse has an ungodly, immature heart, then teaching those principles can just as easily produce a more sophisticated and more effective manipulator.
Rob Green gets to the heart of premarital counseling by helping couples relate Christ to their hearts. Put another way, Tying the Knot powerfully unites the “gospel indicatives” (who Christ is, what Christ has done, who we are in Christ) and the “gospel imperatives” (how to live a Christ-honoring life in Christ’s resurrection power). Too many premarital and marriage books miss this balance. They either focus almost exclusively on the gospel indicatives—and then leave couples to guess at what it looks like to live out these gospel truths in marriage. Or, they focus almost exclusively on the gospel imperatives—and then leave couples to guess at where the power comes from to live like that in their marriage. Because Rob is a scholar-practitioner, Tying the Knot blends a heart-focused understanding of the gospel with a Spirit-empowered understanding of how to live out the gospel in marriage. Rob encourages couples to grow deeper in love with Jesus as the foundation for growing deeper in love with each other.
Premarital Counseling with Content and Application
Another aspect of many premarital counseling manuals is their tendency either to be almost all content or all application. There may be a lot of discussion of biblical truth about marriage, but little illustration about how to live it out. Or, they may have a lot of neat, tidy principles and “how-to” suggestions, but little biblical content. Tying the Knot answers the “What?” question: “What are the biblical principles of a Christ-centered marriage?” It also answers the “So What?” questions: “So what difference do these biblical principles make?” “So what does it look like to live out these biblical principles?”
Tying the Knot is a wonderful balance of Christ-centered theology and practical wisdom principles for premarital couples. Pastor Green includes in each chapter/session immensely practical exercises and thought-provoking “Homework Discussion Questions.” As a skilled and experienced biblical counselor, Rob knows that it’s not only or primarily what happens in the counseling session or while reading a counseling book that matters, but mainly what happens in the couple’s heart and relationship that matters most.
A Premarital Counseling Manual for the Couple and for the Counselor
Who should read and use Tying the Knot? First, the premarital couple—for all the reasons highlighted in this review. Read, discuss, and apply Tying the Knot so Christ can knit your hearts to His heart and your hearts to each other.
Second, the married couple should read Tying the Knot. Over the past year, I’ve started requiring Tying the Knot for many of my marriage counseling couples. Their “martial knot” either was never tied with a Christian foundation, has come untied, or is all knotted up! I hear it every time, “We wish we had had this book before we were married!”
Third, pastors, counselors, and marital mentors should require Tying the Knot. When you do use it, be sure to read the Appendix: “Just for Mentors.” These fifteen pages contain a wealth of practical insight into how to walk through each chapter/session with a couple.
Whether you’re a premarital couple, married couple, pastor, counselor, or marriage mentor, use Tying the Knot to join marriages to the cross. Tying the Knot is the book that I recommend for premarital counseling.