Tim Savage’s contribution, No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Gloryis a God-centered, gospel-driven approach to marriage that’s as far removed from legalistic and therapeutic guides as east is from the west. Savage, senior pastor of Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, begins with a painfully accurate observation: Far too often, the wedding is the high point of a marriage. Savage suggests the problem is a selfish quest for happiness—a quest that will be crushed by the vicissitudes of life, swinging hormones, the fading of youthful beauty, and the shocking discovery that no two people are compatible. He contends that couples need a common cause if they hope to overcome their obstacles, and he proposes that only one cause is worthy—the glory of God (15-26).
Married couples should therefore aim to glorify God as they praise him, obey him, and conform themselves to his image. This occurs above all in self-giving, cruciform love. Self-giving love is essential to God and man. Self-giving also reverses the prime cause of marital strife and divorce. Instead of marrying for the benefits, “we should marry for the good of our partner.” This provides the antidote to the age-old problem of spouses fleeing to work, children, and avocations when a marriage proves disappointing (31-41, 44-52).
According to Savage, marriages founder on self-centeredness but find hope and restoration if they seek “something beyond” themselves with their attraction, hopes, children, and plans. That “something,” of course, is the glory of God, manifest above all in the gospel of the sacrificial love and grace of Jesus. It binds couples together when beauty fades, hopes are dashed, and sin creates seemingly irreconcilable rifts.
Savage advances this thesis in chapters 1-4. If we live for the glory of God and according to the pattern of love supremely displayed in the work of Christ, much will simply fall in place. Subsequent chapters treat standard topics (the roles of husband and wife, sex, reconciliation after sin, and so on), but Savage carefully subordinates his counsel to his master concept. Therefore, while he summons wives to submit to their husbands, he stresses that her concern must be his interest. She will pray for him regularly, accept him unconditionally, and encourage him regardless of his performance. She aims to please him even if he is difficult (63-71). Likewise, husbands will love faithfully, attentively, sympathetically, and sacrificially, convinced that if his wife ought to change, love will transform her more effectively than criticism (77-88).