Marriage Made in Eden: A Pre-Modern Perspective for a Post-Christian World
James Beck's review of, "Marriage Made in Eden: A Pre-Modern Perspective for a Post-Christian World," by Alice P. Mathews and M. Gay Hubbard.
Mathews, Alice P., and M. Gay Hubbard Marriage Made in Eden: A Pre-Modern Perspective for a Post-Christian World. Grand Rapids: Baker. 2004 Paperback. 256 pp. ISBN 0801064651.
These two distinguished authors have provided their readers with a handbook on marriage that is sorely needed. The book not only lays out Scripture’s vision for what marriage is and should be but also describes in documented form how the values of our current post-modern society are eroding the very foundations of marriage.
Dr. Mathews serves on the faculty at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Dr. Hubbard’s professional life includes more than thirty years as a Christian counselor. Although the authors describe themselves as “two old women in their seventies,” the book is anything but dated or dowdy. Instead, the book documents current trends that will greatly influence how the next and succeeding generations will view marriage.
Modernism itself was not known as a friend of marriage. It caused damage to the venerable institution that is evident all around us. This erosion has affected all segments of western society with equal or greater impact on the church itself. What was left incomplete by modernism may well be finished off by post-modernism. With its emphasis on the individual as a creator of truth and self, post-modernism is not a philosophy that supports and sustains lifelong, committed marriage.
Cohabitation is our culture’s alternative to marriage. We have witnessed, as documented by U.S. census data, a 1000% increase in the occurrence of cohabitation over the last 30 years. If divorce in mass numbers was modernism’s bequest to the institution of marriage, cohabitation as a norm may be post-modernism’s contribution. We see no sign that the practice of cohabitation with all its deficits and dangers will decline in popularity any time soon.
The book concludes with a theology of marriage as outlined in the Old and New Testaments. The authors thankfully avoid the common pitfall of prescribing a Victorian ideal of marriage as the “Christian” alternative to our society’s current, depraved view of the marital state. Instead, the authors direct us back to the Bible’s prescription for marriage that is both transformational and missional. All evidence indicates that when Christians are able to live out the form of marriage God intends, we will be a witness to the world that will stand out as a beacon of light in a dark and darkening world.
Professor of Counseling