This book review was originally written by Rev. Eric Estes for our congregations’ newsletter ‘The Seed of Life’ under the section entitled, ‘From Pastor’s Bookshelf’.
Searching through the shelves of marriage books can be quite daunting and sometimes quite frustrating. It is daunting because there are quite frankly too many. It is frustrating because all of them claim the same thing, “This book will help/save/improve/enliven/heat-up your marriage!” So many books make so many of the same promises and all of them claim they have discovered the steps toward marital happiness.
Firstly, there are many helpful books out there that I have read. I have enjoyed them, used them personally for my marriage, as well as for pre-marital and marital counseling. There’s a lot of wisdom to be shared on the subject of marriage and one book really can not cover it all. There are books for communication, for rearing children, for dealing with family boundaries, and for finances to name a few subjects. There are also books for marriages affected by sorrow like the loss of a child or pain like the trials of alcoholism. If your marriage is faltering or fumbling because of some challenging circumstance then publishers can almost guarantee there are books on the subject and many of them are very wise and very helpful.
The difficulty for me as a pastor has not been finding books that help with particular needs of marriage or particular problems, but instead I have struggled to find a good primer on what marriage is. Sure there are plenty of books about marriage in general and they give a lot of practical advice and to-do lists to help one’s marriage, but their deepest flaw is that they provide no foundation and framework from which to live out the entirety of one’s marriage.
The assumption is that if a couple loves one another and follows the “steps” in a book then their marriage is complete. Sadly, many marriages have been shipwrecked on this kind of legalism. I’ve spoken to couples who have followed all the rules and kept all the guidelines, but still they struggle with their individual frustrations and disappointments. They often heap on more to-do’s to their list in the hope that it might fix their marriage. Yet, more times than not they are unsuccessful. They are often missing the larger picture of marriage as a God-created, God-ordained, and God-blessed estate which is as much a part of the fabric of the creation as the air we breathe and the food we eat.
Providing a framework and foundation on which to build your marriage is exactly what Peter Kurowski has done in The Lifelines of Love. I think my search for a primer book on marriage has finally come to an end. This book is a spectacular pearl among many rivals. No other books that I have read about marriage are as faithful to the Scriptures and Christ-centered as Lifelines. This book provides a Biblical foundation for marriage in accessible prose that will help Christian couples found their marriage-house on the rock which is Christ instead of so many other sinking-sand-legalisms offered by the world.
What are the ‘Lifelines of Love’? In short the lifelines are what Lutherans call the Means of Grace—God’s Holy Word and Sacraments. In this book Pastor Kurowski has applied God’s Law and Gospel to the gift of Holy Matrimony. By God’s Word he calls all couples to humility and repentance in the forgiveness of their sins. How much marital strife would be avoided if we only would learn humility and repentance? Kurowski gives us a good idea of how much in the chapter on forgiveness. As you read Pastor Kurowski dives into many practical and necessary topics for a healthy marriage such as Forgiveness, Faith, Fidelity, Freedom (to serve one another), Finances, and Family. While this book is full of practical advice to apply to your marriage Kurowski will again and again teach how repentance and forgiveness in the comfort of the Means of Grace is the primary necessity in a healthy marriage.
The chapters on forgiveness and faith make this book well worth its cover price, but every chapter is loaded with helpful wisdom, practical insight, and rich forgiveness from the gospel of Jesus. This book doesn’t only teach about marriage, but about the chief doctrine of the faith—the forgiveness of sins received by faith in the Savior Jesus. He even explains the doctrine of the Trinity and how it informs our marriage. In the Trinity we see God in relationship as three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love one another and therefore it can be said as St. John did, “God is love.” Kurowski touches on many important Christian doctrines with a distinctive Lutheran perspective and their application to Christian marriage. I really would not have guessed that a marriage book could teach the faith so well, but Dr. Kurowski has pulled it off and in a readable and entertaining package at that! I highly recommend anyone purchase this book whether they are single, engaged, or have been married for decades. You will be blessed by what it has to teach for most of all it delivers to you the grace of our Lord as we give thanks to God for the gift of marriage and of His Son our Savior.
The Lifelines of Love by Peter Kurowski is currently available at Amazon.com. 14.85 USD.
Kurowski, Peter. The Lifelines of Love. City: Gardners Books, 2007. Print.