I’m “in the business” of getting free books from publishers. I request a book (or in some cases they randomly send me one), read it, write a review, and post it on a blog I use solely for that purpose, and a public site, such as Amazon. In the past year so far I’ve done this over 40 times (which equals over 40 free books!).
I love it! I love reading, and I love writing, and I definitely love free books. And doing this with six different publishers means a steady flow of books coming in the mail (and I happen to also love mail). It also means I’ve gotta be on my toes (or more literally, my nose buried deep in a book) to stay on top of my ever-growing stack of books to read and review. Not to mention my other stack of wanna-reads.
One of my recent selections was not a typical choice for me. In fact, I hesitated to pick this book titled “Altared” because, as a young single adult, I’m not interested in a book about marriage or how to get married or what to do while not married. I’m not opposed to marriage, I’m just not obsessed with it.
How refreshing it was to realize that is exactly how the authors felt! “Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Got Too Worked Up About We” by Claire & Eli (who use pseudonyms for their privacy) was not a book about marriage, but about love–for God and for your neighbor, based on the two greatest commandments in the Bible, and I highly recommend it. But I received a pre-released copy, so you’ll have to wait till September 18th to get yours. Or, I could let you borrow mine.
Although their own story is woven into the chapters of this book, it is not the focal point, but merely an example to prove their case of how young folks easily fall prey to having a find-your-mate-syndrome in the forefront of their lives, instead of pursuing a life that glorifies God, regardless of your relationship status.
Both authors come from Christian homes who taught the importance of purity and godliness, especially when it comes to boy-girl relationships. But the advice of well-meaning parents and youth leaders resulted in a mindset that the answer to saving yourself for marriage and controlling lust was to get married. Or in other words, that was the reason to get married. So that became the centralized theme of these two young people (and, in their opinion, countless others), in an over-obsessive kind of way.
Sometimes voicing their individual perspective and other times writing together, Claire & Eli use both Scripture and the examples of Christians throughout history (such as Bonhoeffer, Calvin, and the Desert Fathers) to challenge readers to surrender their ideals and the material things of this world, and to rely on Christ. To seek Him and love Him above any thing or any one else. And then, to show Christ’s love to your neighbor, as He commands. I liked how they said that Christian love and self-denial, two themes seen all through Christian history and in the pages of this book, are like two sides of the same coin.
Contrary to what you might be thinking at this point, they were neither advocating singleness, nor downplaying marriage. Although they believe chapters like 1 Corinthians 7 shouldn’t be overshadowed by Ephesians 5 and Genesis 1 & 2, neither should they be glorified to represent some sort of higher or nobler living.
To quote Claire & Eli, “God will always prefer obedience over any specific status, whether married or single. Obedience is more important. Grace, and obedience (in response to grace), is our position before God, not marriage or singleness.”
I will close with the two thoughts Claire & Eli ended their book with:
One, we cannot try to fit love into our own cultural understanding of marriage, or we will miss the fullness of the kind of love Christ taught.
And two, to follow Christ, we must, as Christ Himself teaches, lose our lives in order to gain them. To fulfill the two greatest commandments–love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself–we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses. Daily.
“This is how we love.” —Altared