Tim Chester has a number of books in a Gospel-Centered series. The latest I have read is Gospel-Centered Marriage: Becoming the Couple God Wants You to Be. It follows the same formula of the other books. It is short and has very short chapters. It begins with a page relating a scenario in marriage to introduce the need for the material. There is some Scripture to read, a short chapter and then some questions for discussion.
In some ways I was reminded of my book (hopefully to be released this fall). I cover some of the same ground though I develop a different theological orientation, and in more depth. I probably try to say too much. Here he seems to say too little at times. Being succinct is generally a good thing. But at times things beg for qualification.
For instance, in the 3 chapters on sex in marriage he talks of serving one another by being willing to have sex even when you aren’t interested (addressed primarily to women). This is not really qualified, and while the problem of pressuring is mentioned, the emphasis clearly is on serving. There are legitimate reasons for a spouse to say “not today”, and they shouldn’t feel guilty about it. But that really isn’t addressed. Brevity can create problems at times.
He covers more than sex. He addresses love and submission, grace, conflict and resolution and forgiveness. He rightly places marriage in the context of mission (or creation mandate). There are some subjects that are not covered directly: leaving & cleaving, honoring dignity, and finances for instance.
The majority of the material is very good. I’m not sure if I would use it for pre-marital counseling. But it does serve as a good check-up and could be used by counselors to supplement counseling sessions by providing some instruction and aiding discussion. A chapter can be read in less than 15 minutes.
It is a worthwhile book to read, but remember that Tim Chester isn’t trying to say everything, or even close to it.