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Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Date Your Wife" (Justin Buzzard)

TITLE: Date Your Wife
AUTHOR: Justin Buzzard
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012, (160 pages).

This book is a direct call to men to take their wives seriously and date them. Buzzard starts off by making a distinction between a "religious" approach vs a "gospel approach" to marriage. The former works hard at gaining approval. The latter gives freely and willingly, independent of open approval.  A grace approach is not dependent on reciprocating acts of love. It gives without expectation. It gives without reciprocation. It gives and gives. Freely. It challenges men to date their wives frequently and freely. Men are called to take the lead to love their wives, regardless of how they have been treated.

In Section One, "The Good," Buzzard reflects back on the beginning of his marriage: The prayer of his mum for his future wife. Instead of conventional methods of finding a wife with a date and a dream, the Christian needs to begin in prayer. When it comes to a date, it begins not in the future but today. Buzzard challenges men to think about the "dream" that will drive them to continually want to date their wives. God invented marriage, and men are called to remember that in marriage, they are essentially giving away themselves to the woman they love. Unfortunately, far too many men have forgotten that.

In Section Two, the author makes three diagnoses on why many marriages have gone terribly wrong. Firstly, too much advice have been concentrated on changing women, or attempts to change wives in order to change marriages. Buzzards argues that the way to change marriages is to change the man first. Too many men begin erroneously by blaming their wives, when they ought to be changing themselves. This initiative is given by God. Secondly, Buzzards asks men if they have done their duty to protect, to guard, to cultivate, and to help their wives flourish as a person love of God? Thirdly, men often make the mistake of pursuing hard after their women before marriage, and then steps off the accelerator after marriage. Men's mission in marriage is to continue this pursuit even more.

In Section Three, Buzzard highlights three things for men to make things right, and three things to dream about. The first three are efforts in dating their wives, and the next three are to enable their wives to flourish. Date challenge #1 is to recognize that wives are the husbands' primary responsibility on earth. Men are often the one at fault, simply because they have substituted responsibility with misguided sense of power. Responsibility is actually man's response to God's ability. Cool!

Date challenge #2 is for men to measure themselves not on the basis of success in his mission, but on the basis of God's word about them. The true value of a man is what God says about him, not how successful or what a man has achieved. This is possible in Christ. Date challenge #3 is to remember that we are all sinners saved by grace, forgiven by God, and freed to love our wives as we are loved by God. The gospel makes all things new, including our marriages.

Then Buzzard brings in three initiatives for men to develop their love for their wives. Dream initiative #1 is about having husbands to be big dreamers on how best to cultivate and enable their wives to flourish. He challenges men to write that dream and do something about it. The author then uses the military conquest strategies of first applying the "air war" followed by the "ground war." Dream initiative #2 is the "air war," to remember our vows, to speak them, and to put them into practice. An "air war" is simply special occasions on celebrating the marriage. Buzzard helpfully provides action plans for men to use at each stage of their marriages. From the first year of marriage, to marriage with children to the empty nest years, date ideas are given for immediate application. Dream initiative #3 is the "ground war" which is the ordinary time, the day to day living out of marriages. It can be special husband and wife love talk, regular time together, having a schedule together, and so on.

Section Four continues to hone in the idea of relentlessly pursuing after our wives. There is no stopping till death do they part. It is not only to prepare the wife for the earthly glory, it is to prepare the wife to be glorious in heaven as well. This is the eschatological (end times) equivalent for marriages.

My Thoughts

This book is unapologetic about calling men to take up their God-given responsibilities as husbands. Buzzard fires point blank at men, pointing out the need for men to take the initiatives to take charge to love and not dominate, to give and not insist, to cherish and not abuse, to lead and not shrink back, to date their wives continuously. As I read, I find Buzzard's overwhelming blame and focus on the men to take charge and to take action a little too dramatic. Marriage requires both husbands and wives to take charge according to their respective gifts, talents, and skills. While it is good for men to take the initiative to love their wives, I feel that it can be misunderstood by the women folks. Women may become suspicious about any ulterior motives husbands have. Only over time can we tell truth from falsehood. One thing is for sure. When the Holy Spirit moves men, men will be freed to love their wives. At the same time, the Holy Spirit can also move wives. For this reason, I feel that this book is incomplete without an equivalent volume for wives.

Having said that, I feel this book is a great wake up call for husbands everywhere! "Date your wives!" , Buzzard shouts. I ditto that.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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