Move over, Dr. Phil. With a crop of marriage books by high-profile pastors and a baseball star, religion publishers are providing plenty of options this season for folks looking for help in the wedded bliss department.
Francis Chan (Crazy Love, 2008) and his wife Lisa are breaking new ground with You and Me Forever (Aug.). They are self-publishing through Claire Love Publishing so that all proceeds can be donated to ministry partners of the Chans. By self-publishing, they can double or triple the impact of the book, they said.
“Francis and Lisa have wanted to write this book for awhile. We hope it brings life and purpose to millions of marriages and affects generations to come,” said Jessica Henry, marketing director of Claire Love Publishing/You and Me Forever. “Too often marriage books teach us how to get along and how to be happy,” she says. “Those things are important, but not the end-goal of marriage. As Francis says in the book, ‘If we don’t stare at God, we’ll spend our time staring at lesser things. Namely, ourselves.’”
Safeguard your marriage with help from Craig and Amy Groeschel in From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage (Zondervan, Oct.). Bestselling author Craig Groeschel (Fight) is founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. The Groeschels offer five commitments that make for healthy marriages: Seek God, fight fair, have fun, stay pure, and never give up.
Bestselling author and iconoclastic pastor Rob Bell (Love Wins) writes with wife Kristen The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage (HarperOne, Nov.). “Zimzum,” a Hebrew term describing how God contracted to make room for his creation, is applied to marriage by the Bells. “Zimzum” is described as the action of each person in a marriage contracting to allow the other to flourish.
“Rob has worked hard to move from merely speaking to a church audience to reaching the wider culture so he can address the spiritual needs of those who are not regular churchgoers,” said Mickey Maudlin, senior v-p at HarperOne. “Rob and Kristen decided to address the place where most of us experience our most intense hopes, ideals, disappointments, heartache, and love: marriage.”
Their focus is on how to maintain and grow the flow of love between two people, learning what blocks the flow and what makes it flow freely. “This is a practical and brand new way of understanding marriage that gets us beyond the overly familiar psychological models we have all heard,” said Maudlin. “I hope couples will not only find new tools for discovering how relationships can thrive, but also find reasons for hope that they can have the kind of marriage they dreamed of having but were worried was only a childish fantasy.”
The biblical book of Song of Solomon is the jumping-off point for Matt Chandler’s The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage, and Redemption (David C. Cook, Jan. 2015). Chandler, teaching pastor of The Village Church in Dallas and author of Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change (B&H Books, May), offers a counter-intuitive perspective than includes nurturing our hearts above all else.
Finally, for any whose real religion is baseball, former star outfielder Darryl Strawberry and his wife Tracy have written The Imperfect Marriage: Help for Those Who Think It’s Over (Howard, Aug.), in which they offer candid, practical, Bible-based advice and principles.