Letters to a Romantic, First Years of Marriage

Letters to a Romantic is written by two young pastors who minister at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and are both trained as biblical counselors. This book is designed to “cover twenty-two relevant issues and answer questions that almost all newlyweds wonder about” (p. 9). Toward that end, they address many pertinent subjects that concern not only young couples but also marriage couples of all ages and stages in life. The authors discuss items that newlyweds tend to wonder about (p. 9) including the importance of the local church (chapter two), roles of a husband and wife (chapter four), finances (chapter nine), hospitality (chapter eleven), treating parents with honor and love (chapter twelve), conflict (chapters thirteen and fourteen), children (chapter sixteen), and several chapters on sex (chapters seventeen through twenty-one). Most of the discussion and insights within the book are grounded in Scripture and helpful to young couples in the first years of marriage. That early patterns may set the agenda for the rest of their marriage is a thought worth pondering for every couple (the thrust of chapter six), but the authors especially emphasize developing healthy spiritual patterns in the early years. Every couple would be wise to pay attention. The first chapter sets the direction of Letters to a Romantic by declaring that marriage exposes our hearts, therefore we should not be surprised that marriage reveals personal weaknesses that lead to conflict and the need for adjustment and resolution. If these issues are not resolved, unhealthy habits will develop in marriage. A couple, then, must recognize when they need help and reach out to competent counselors (a recommendation that would be expected from men who are trained biblical counselors) (see chapter three).

Each of the short chapters ends with discussion questions, which would aid in application and would be handy for counselors using the book. The authors do adopt the current trend of misusing the word “gospel,” making it synonymous with every aspect of the Christian life. This is a fad that I hope soon vanishes; otherwise strange statements such as “the whole point of the sexual union to display the gospel” (pp. 127, 143), and “take the gospel to bed with you” result (p. 145). Not only are such statements shocking, they are easily misunderstood. It would be best to use the word “gospel” as Scripture does, as the good news of Christ’s cross work for our salvation. And I also would challenge the idea that we need someone who knows all our secrets in order to keep us accountable and on track (pp. 160-161). This goes far beyond James 5:16 and confessing our sins to one another, cannot be sustained biblically, and could be detrimental to both the confessor and the accountability partner. But these are minor objections to an otherwise fine book. I recommend Letters to a Romantic especially for young married couples and for couples considering marriage.

by Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2022), 181 pp., paper $12.99

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel

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