Marriage and Family
Marriage and Family Mcdonald Book Review
In his book what McDonald does is give what life should be like with a healthy marriage and family. There are seven parts with twenty subcategories. My objective here is to review this as thoroughly as I can but first I want to point out that McDonalds writing style is very easy to understand. He explains each section thoroughly in laymans terms so that everyone can intelligently perceive what he is saying. What I want to do is look more closely at the seven parts that are listed out and give a deep look as to what is being said.
Part one addresses the changes and origins of marriage.. The first point that he brings out is that change is inevitable. According to McDonald some of the changes have made marriage an obsolete object in this world. With No-fault divorces, single parents, and cohabitation is there any reason as to why marriage is almost nonexistent (Mcdonald, Pg. 21)? To add to this McDonald addresses change as progressive. He illustrates this by explaining that before the nineteenth century that the role of the wife was clearly defined (Mcdonald, Pg. 22). He expands by exposing that patriarchal family was family that produced its own food (Mcdonald, Pg. 22). Simply put the family sustained itself. So what changed? Please welcome the industrial revolution. As said before prior to the nineteenth century the wifes role was clearly defined but after both World Wars the dynamic has shifted. No longer is the wife simply the stay at home mother but now the wife can work for a living. Before urbanization the family was a unit but now as a result of progress the family is more divided than ever before. With both parents working the child now has to rely on other sources for education some of which the parent should have a part in. With the child being so easy easily influenced by the world it is not hard to see why we see less of young people in church? It is at this point that what McDonald has written can not better explain the crisis that is happening not just here in America but all over the world.
Mcdonald continues his explanation by addressing the issue that face the christian family today. He gives an example of a house in where the foundation gives way and in this way many Christian marriages are crumbling because there is not a cemented foundation (Mcdonald, Pg. 33). In many cases where the couple believes that they are resting on Biblical foundations the result is often divorce usually because of incompatibility (McDonald, Pg. 33). In order to fix this problem he looks at the necessity of biblical knowledge as it pertains to marriage (McDonald, Pg. 34). In order to understand this biblical knowledge we need to understand the institution of marriage and the context of its origin. God creating man in his image and deciding that the man should have a companion to fulfill his needs is where this all begins. What does this mean for the individual? What it does is establish the fact it is not good for man to be alone and in this the concept of marriage is introduced. What McDonald so elegantly describes is marriage as it should be to the very foundation because what he describes is not simply a marriage that involves male and female, but also institutes the need for God as well
In part two Mcdonald discusses the factors in a successful marriage. He looks at the cultural influences that so pervade our society today. One of the things that distorted marriage as of late is how we focus on our own personal happiness rather than the marriage itself. Mcdonald explains that before that happiness on a personal level was often put aside to focus on the welfare of the family as a whole (Mcdonald, Pg. 50). The focus on romantic love rather unconditional love is another factor. With the giving of the vows there is a understanding that it is not simply just saying I do but you are placing your welfare and life in this hands of the other. Another issue that is addressed is problem of roles. As a christian couple what roles does each person take? As stated before the women role was clearly more defined but now with different womens movements it is really confusing to tell exactly where the woman fits in. The best way to explain the role would be scriptural according to Mcdonald. In their writings both Peter and Paul clearly state that wife is to submit to the headship of the husband. This does not mean that woman is meant to be a slave to the husband. What it means is that together the couple figure out solutions but the husband has the final say.
Part three talks about forming the marriage relationship. Back in the old days the term was not dating, it was courting. The rules of courting are very different then the ones we have for dating. Courting was the formal way of asking a girl out. Usually the man would initiate contact and ask the womans father for permission to court. As with the standards of christians while courting no sexual activity was to happen until marriage. Today in our worlds society of dating sex is seen as love and completely distorts the image that God has projected marriage to be. Dating is meant to be a learning experience which means learning each others likes or dislikes. Dating is meant to help people to meet different peers or acquaintances. This part is called random dating. As you move into steady dating you begin to focus on just one person and start to get to know that person. When the couple decides to become serious with the intent to marry then the engagement happens. During the engagement eac is still learning about the other while preparing themselves for marriage. The culmination of this progression is marriage where the two are united as one in holy matrimony and under God become a single unit.
Part four focuses on what happens after marriage. One of the biggest things that should be worked on before marriage is communication. When it comes to marriage communication is one of the biggest problems that is faced. When it comes to communicating each person must be willing to listen to the other. Poor communication is often what causes conflict in marriage. By managing each others communication skills you can avoid one of the major conflicts that marriage can bring. Even so conflicts will arise so how are these conflicts dealt with? According to Mcdonald it all rests on communication. First the couple must realize there is a conflict and address it. After addressing it the couple then must decide what action must be taken. Once this is decided the couple must then make a permanent decision on this course of action. Mcdonald illustrates that marriages are not perfect but through effective communication even the worst situations can be dealt with.
Part five covers the finances. What part four also covers that is not addressed is the role of christian parenting. In finances the couple is going to struggle what with bills and having to provide for a child finances can be a very touchy subject for couples. Often times the arguments are usually centered around how much is being spent or who is handling the money. Mcdonald states that issues involving money should be talked about during the dating phase of the relationship (Mcdonald, Pg. 213). In christian homes oe of the other issues that arise is on whether to tithe or not. By not tithing the couple is taking away from God what is rightly his and not trusting in him to provide for them. When the family tithes it is a sign of stewardship and trust in God that he will provide.
Part six is about fragmented families. In the church today there is a distinct group called christian singles (Mcdonald, Pgs. 255-256). What Mcdonald is saying is that there is a significant higher rate of christian singles than ever before. Its not just the christian singles though but also the single parent homes and the blended homes. For single parents the dating game is different in now instead of just finding a partner for themself they also have to look after the welfare of the children. When a blended family does occur it brings with it shifts in dynamics. For the partner moving they now have to deal with addition of children and for the children they now have to deal with a strange adult coming into their lives.
Part seven concludes by talking about the future of the family. Mcdonald addresses with what families can face. Internationally family dynamics are different than here in the states (Mcdonald, Pg. 315). Not only that but here in America the definition of what marriage is quickly changing. Due to new dynamics such as homoexuality, womens movement, and changing economic patterns what we perceive as family is a older term according to our society. Mcdonalds overview of this issue clearly points out what we have seen to be happening. His writing can not be more perfect.
In conclusion overall this book is a very good read and I would recommend it to any couple that is married or intending to marry. The insights that are given are clear, concise, and to the point. With this book Mcdonald pulls no punches. He delivers each word with a crisp sharpness that can clearly be understood as one reads it. I hope this review gives you sn understanding of how good this book is and how much I have learned from it.
Mcdonald Cleveland and Philip, Creating a Successful Christian Marriage, Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Books, 1994. Print.