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Reviews | For Better, For Worse

For Better, For Worse

Mark Vincent

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

400 pages

For Better, For Worse

The Christadelphian review (from December 2015)

For Better, For Worse

by Mark Vincent

Based on the series of twelve articles first printed in 2013, this book expands the subject to fifty chapters, exploring both the scriptural basis and practical aspects of marriage.

If only I had had access to a book like this forty-five years ago! Not only to help my wife and I and our children to have avoided some mistakes, but also to provide a basis for my ecclesial role as a marriage celebrant over twenty-six years. Brother Mark Vincent has thoroughly explored the subject of relationships and marriage by letting the scriptures speak. Whilst there is an important place for practical marriage guidance and counselling, we should first understand God’s purpose with marriage and His instructions on living His way in all things.

God’s standards

In all practical matters of life we must remember that God’s guidance recorded in the scriptures is antithetical to the various cultures of the world – Western, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, etc. Much of the Old and New Testament instruction to God’s people is couched as warning to avoid the behaviours extant around them – whether they be Egyptian, Canaanite, Babylonian, Corinthian or Cretan: they are not to be our guides.

This is as true of the marriage relationship as any other. The Western world’s view of premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality and marriage itself could hardly be further from God’s standards. Other cultures demean the role of women and young girls. Let us thank God that we have His word on these matters whichever cultural environment we happen to live in.

A book of people’s lives

For Better, For Worse is a welcome addition to our resources on the subject of marriage. We may have enjoyed Brother Mark Vincent’s articles in The Christadelphian in 2013, but these have been significantly expanded now to cover fifty chapters. We therefore have a book that could be read one chapter a week and cover almost a year (hint for married couples)!

Presented this way the book reinforces the fact that most of the Bible is not simply theology, but is largely a book of people’s lives. If God had merely wanted us to know the Gospel the Bible might simply be a few pages long. But we have a book of some 1,000 pages to show what manner of people we ought to be – and that not simply to follow a set of rules for living but to develop relationships that help us to grow more like, and closer to, our Father.

Most of the book focuses on examples of married couples in the scriptures, good and bad. However, there are also chapters and postscripts dealing with the moral and practical issues of marriage – dating, male and female roles, children and parenting, and the difficulties that can arise in the best of marriages. Most chapters commence with a list of topics covered and have a summary paragraph, which helps the reader know what is to follow. There is also a useful scripture index.

The book wisely commences with a close examination of Genesis – the “seed-plot of the whole Bible” (E. W. Bullinger, Companion Bible, Appendix 2), particularly the first three chapters. Here we learn the reason for the similarities and differences between men and women, as well as the consequences of the Fall. Without these two foundation principles not only might marriage be more difficult than it could be, but we would struggle to comprehend the origin of sin and the need for Christ’s atoning death.

Brother Mark frequently extracts helpful lessons from brief or seemingly insignificant records of people’s lives. These, as well as the more detailed records, reinforce the principle that there is no ‘junk’ in the Bible. How encouraging it is to read of the lives of our spiritual forebears and know that despite their failings God worked with them and they experienced the wonder and joys of marriage. We like them also endure the consequences of sin – for the joy set before us.

Perhaps above all, the book reinforces the wonderful use in scripture of the term “marriage” (Revelation 19:7) to describe the perfect union between Christ and his immortalised brothers and sisters of all ages! What a remarkable privilege it is to have a foretaste of this now in our earthly relationships.

Stephen Hill

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