Book Review: Reforming Marriage

Douglas Wilson lays a Biblical and solid foundation for God’s intention of the marital relationship. I think an interesting way to “review” this book is to give you a quote or two from several chapters.

Chapter 1: A practical Theology of Marriage
[W]hen a man leaves his father and mother, and takes a wife, he makes a proclamation concerning Christ and the church. Depending on the marriage, that declaration is made poorly or well, but it is always made.

Chapter 2: Headship and Authority
Every marriage, everywhere in the world, is a picture of Christ and the church. Because of sin and rebellion, many of these pictures are slanderous lies concerning Christ. But a husband can never stop talking about Christ and church. If he is obedient to God, he is preaching the truth; if he does not love his wife, he is speaking apostasy and lies– but he is always talking.

…So the first thing necessary is that a husband must establish a confessional home. This means he must know what he believes , and he must communicate and teach his confession of faith to his family…[H]e must be the resident theologian… Second, he must why he believes as he does so that he can communicate and teach this to his family as well…Thirdly, he must seek to cultivate certain virtues which are built upon this confession of faith.

Chapter 4: Efficacious Love

Once young girls used to play with baby dolls seeing themselves in the role of nurturing mothers; now they can be seen playing with Barbie dolls, seeing themselves in the place of the doll. And of course the doll is both pretty and stacked. The pressure is on and stays on.

The perversion in this is not that women desire to be attractive of lovely. The perversion is the modern divorce of a woman’s loveliness from the behavior of her father and husband. There is nothing wrong with wanting a lovely garden; there is great deal of folly in wanting a lovely garden that will tend and keep itself. The Bible teaches that the husband is responsible for the loveliness of his wife.

…A beautiful woman without discretion presents the same kind of incongruity as lipstick on a camel…[W]hen women are beautiful and unholy, their beauty is a provocation to the Lord…He hates beauty when it is internally ugly.

The Bible requires us to honor women … in verbal and visible demonstrations.

Chapter 5: Keeping short Accounts

Never split up until things are resolved.

Never let anyone into your home when there is no harmony there.

Never go anywhere else when you are out of fellowship.

Never wait until later to fix things even when you are surrounded by others.

Never have sexual relations when you are out of fellowship with one another.

Chapter 6: Miscellaneous Temptations: The Nice Guy Syndrome

[The marriage] is not right because a marriage cannot be spiritually consummated if the husband acts the part of a spiritual eunuch. Such eunuch is one who is impotent in his masculinity…Unfortunately, this “niceness” is not Biblical gentleness. It is not the love discussed above; it is abdication, or “wimping out.” … He must not wield his authority in a self-seeking way. but he must wield it; he is a husband.

…When someone undertakes to husband a woman, he must understand that it cannot be done unless he acts with authority. He must act as as though he has a right to where he is. He is the lord of the garden, and he has been commanded by God to see to it that this garden bears much fruit. This cannot be done by “hanging around” in the garden and bing nice. The garden must be managed, and ruled, and kept and tilled…If someone wants a garden full of weeds, no husbandry is necessary. And if someone want a wife full of frustration, nothing needs to be done to accomplish that either. All a man has to do is leave her alone. And nice guys are very good at leaving their wives alone.

Chapter 8: Multiplying Fruitfully

Some husbands think they have a commitment to the biblical view of family just because they are male, opinionated, and dislike condoms….Presumption in the conception of large numbers of children is no virtue…What then are we to make of a male who begets little ones he will not teach, fathers children he will not feed, and sires offspring he will not pastor? As if one millstone were not enough, he has demanded more. The Lord is just and will grant his request.

One of the most valuable things I learned from my father is the loveliness of a pregnant woman…Christians should honor those God has blessed.


The castration of Christian men, and the consequent feminization of the family, church, and culture, began in earnest in the last century when the power of an efficacious gospel of grace was abandoned, and the substitute of religious sentiment was set up instead. In our doctrinal defiance, the feminine response of faith was confused with the masculine initiative of God in the Gospel. Husbands, who are required in Scripture to imitate the love of Christ, were then taught that the love of Christ for his people was impotent. The efficacy of love was then abandoned, and the sentiment of loving was enthroned. And men became impotent in their imitation of an impotent Lord.

You can buy it here.


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