Tag Archives: her hand in marriage

Book Review: Her Hand in Marriage

her-hands-in-marriage-doug-wilsonThere’s no one like Doug Wilson for catching foxes, lighting firebrands, and burning down egalitarian cornfields. And he always makes it look like fun.

In Her Hand in Marriage, Wilson sets forth a case for courtship that is at once biblical, cogent, and (dare I say it?) entertaining. Yes, entertaining. I do not mean easy or fluffy or flippant – this book is no joke – but as with most of Wilson’s writing, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself, whatever the subject matter may be. He’s just that good.

Modern recreational dating, argues Wilson, “can safely be considered as bankrupt.” It has broken down, proven itself destructive rather than constructive, and highlighted our need for a more biblical way of doing things:

Apart from biblical dating or courting, there are many destructive consequences – emotional, sexual, and spiritual. But if a young man seeks to initiate a relationship, and takes full responsibility for the relationship under the woman’s father, there is scriptural accountability and protection. It is the purpose of this book to define, defend, and describe how biblical dating or courtship works.

And a most excellent defense it is, however short. Wilson covers an astonishingly broad range of topics in only ninety pages. The book is divided into five chapters: the first addresses the authority of parents; the second and third deal with the preparation of sons and daughters; the fourth and fifth deal with the culmination and details of courtship. There’s also an appendix entitled “The Garden”, which beautifully captures the thrust of Wilson’s case in parable form.

Of course (and as my Mom noted in her review), we’re told from the get-go that there must be a distinction between principals and methods:

Because our contemporary practice of recreational dating has failed so miserably, many Christians are hungry for alternative methods. ‘Just tell us what to do!’ In this arena, as elsewhere, the Christian life is approached as though it were a paint-by-numbers kit. But nowhere is this kind of ‘connect the dots’ thinking better calculated to bring disaster than in the realm of courtship. We are men and women with sons and daughters, not social engineers playing with interchangeable, interconnecting tinker toys. This simplistic but destructive mentality is revealed in questions like, ‘How man times must a young man come over before the young girl’s father should allow him to sit next next to her at the dinner table?’ The author of this small book frankly confesses that the answer is none of his business, and that he doesn’t really care. Seek to understand principle, and appropriate methods will follow.

I commend this book to you as a practical, scriptural, and just downright sane handling of a tricky and often misunderstood subject. On a related note, if you can get your hands on a copy of R.F. Capon’s Bed and Board, it’s the perfect companion read.

On the Bookshelf XXII

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Faulkner dubbed it the “the best novel ever written”, and I can see where he’s coming from. Until now, my only experience with Tolstoy had been The Death of Ivan Ilych, which I enjoyed but wasn’t blown away by. But this book… wow. Just wow. Leave it to a Russian with a epic beard to write something this fantastic.
Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
“In this final volume of The Border Trilogy, two men marked by the boyhood adventures of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing now stand together, in the still point between their vivid pasts and uncertain futures, to confront a country changing or already changed beyond recognition.” McCarthy has yet to disappoint me. I don’t know how the story will end, but I know it will be magnificent.
Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. II by John Calvin
One down, one to go. And Calvin is being a boss, as usual.
Wool by Hugh Howey
YES. FINALLY. I’ve been aching to get my hands on this one since last year. I love the story behind it: Howey wrote it while working as a bookseller, writing faithfully each morning and during every lunch break for nearly three years. He self-published in 2011, and the book has since become an underground hit (Ridley Scott has even purchased the film rights). So yeah: I’m only slightly excited to see what all the buzz is about.
Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson
Something tells me this is gonna be a really, really good read: “The modern dating system is bankrupt. It does not train young people to form a relationship but rather to form a series of relationships, hardening themselves to all but the current one… Biblical courtship is a humble affront to the sterility of modern relationships. And as a new generation rejoices in this ancient wisdom, the current waves of broken relationships will begin to recede.”
In Defense of Sanity edited by Ahlquist, Pearce, & Mackey
It’s a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton. And it’s awesome (duh). What more do want to know?
Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
From J.I. Packer: “Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.” While we’re on the subject, I’d like to recommend the other book these guys wrote, Why We’re Not Emergent. Seriously. Go read it. They make a terrific team.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?