Authored by Dev Menon
I am usually sceptical about Christian books on dating, romantic relationships and marriage as I feel that a lot of the material out there is either heavily influenced by secular philosophy and feel-good advice or, on the other extreme, imposes very stringent standards on Christians with regards to this subject matter that adds unnecessary burdens to an already complex issue. Going into The Pattern, I was unconvinced on how this book would be any different. To my pleasant surprise, I found that the material is biblically sound and grounded, yet written in a simple, concise and truthful tone. The first chapter already sets the tone of the book, not cherry-picking the good stuff or selling a fairy-tale version of marriage but stating a rather overlooked aspect of relationships—people change. It got me to think that only through anchoring ourselves in the unchanging truth and our constant and faithful God can we then sustain a marriage for a lifetime in the midst of constant change.
The central tenet of the book is that marriage is intended to model Christ’s relationship with the Church and between God the Father and Christ the Son—which I hold to be the accurate biblical basis for marriage. I feel that, sometimes, we Christians tend to oversell the merits of marriage, but this book very succinctly and clearly states the basis of the author’s beliefs and advice. However, where I disagree with the book is in the definition of a covenant relationship. The book defines a covenant relationship as unconditional love. While I do agree that God loves us unconditionally, it is quite clear to me that his acceptance of us (i.e., him being in a relationship with us) is conditional. A covenant is in fact a contract. There are terms and conditions to a covenantal relationship—which is what separates a marriage between a man and a woman from a dating couple (i.e., the making and keeping of the marriage vows).
One aspect of this book that I particularly appreciated are chapters 4 and 5 on oneness— especially the six major issues that need to be worked on in marriage. The author accurately depicted the six things that are likely to cause division and conflict in a marriage that need to be worked out between the couple. This is absolutely a gem of advice and truth that many have not considered before they decided to get married. I plan on using these six things as a blueprint of sorts for my future relationship. I really think the advice of re-centering the marriage around the couple as one rather than seeing a marriage as two individuals is so apt in modern culture where individuality and placing oneself as number one are celebrated. The practical advice given in chapter 5 is also a helpful guide.
The book also stands against societal shifts in maintaining an egalitarian view of marriage where gender roles do not really matter. This is opposed to the complementarian view in Christianity, where men and women are called to different roles in the family and that men are to take up the role of leadership. This is an unpopular view in today’s world and I affirm the author’s boldness to not bow down to social pressures and maintain the truth of God’s word.
All in all, I would recommend every Christian to read this book if they have any desire to get married one day or even for those who are about to or are already married. It is clearly written, with a clear purpose and intent for every chapter, and concise enough for everyone to be able to read from cover to cover.
You can view a sample of The Pattern here.
This review is written by Wesley Kow, who is a tax accountant. He likes to read and exercise in his free time.