A Book on Building a Billboard Marriage (Book Review)

As I commute to work, I have noticed three things that redirect driver’s attention from the road to the side: flashing lights, accidents, and billboards. The two former usually indicate bad news. It is the latter that is meant to bring attention for good. Billboards serve to promote various ideas and helps. Still, all three receive attention from those passing by. The same can be said for marriages, specifically Christian marriages. Living in a culture seeking to redefine marriage, those who hold to the biblical definition are receiving attention. The question is, “Is it for good or bad?” In the church, we don’t want to be known for marriages that have given up and broken up. We don’t want to see marriages go awry and end up crashing. We want to see marriages upheld as billboards for the gospel. That is the very heart of D.A. and Elicia Horton in their new book Enter the Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel-Saturated Marriage.

In this book, the Hortons open up, sharing about their own struggles in marriage and how many couples fight with each other instead of fighting for each other. Through their candidness, honesty, and transparency, they provide God-enabled hope, “We can choose to fight for each other instead of against each other” (xviii). The Hortons call Christian couples to gospel-saturated marriages marked by oneness and togetherness, not by tension.

Enter the Ring is apologetical, theological, and practical. Chapter 1 considers how the greatest apologetic in a compromising culture is a church made up of committed marriages. Chapter 2 then addresses the struggle and solution to oneness. From there, chapters 3–7 apply oneness to communication, suffering, discipleship, sexuality and purity, and finances in marriage. Chapter 8 finishes up the discussion by looking at the gospel-saturated life of the individual. An epilogue is included to address unmarried Christians and answer common questions pertaining to them.

In Enter the Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel-Saturated Marriage, D.A. and Elicia Horton share how Christian couples can fight right and how marriages can be a witness of the gospel. The Horton’s style is inviting as if you were sitting across the table from them as they share their stories and counsel. Their continual emphasis on Scripture, prayer, and the church community communicates the importance of marriages and its witness to a watching world. Their definition of marriage, repeated throughout the book, sums it up well, “a union of two broken people who have both entrusted their hearts to God (through salvation in Jesus Christ) and each other while living in a broken world that keeps trying to break them apart” (xvi). The emphasis on discipleship between husband and wife and with children in the home may be the highlight of the book. As well, the thoughtful approach taken in this book shows through as conversations on unmarried Christians and believers married to unbelieving spouses are discussed.

This book is filled with solid biblical counsel and gospel-saturated application. If there is one critique, though, it is the missing counsel in chapter 3. The chapter addresses the area of communication and lists various applications, yet James 4:1–10 is nowhere to be found. While some other helpful applications are given in the chapter, to be gospel-saturated in this area of marriage means to apply the truths of James 4:1–10. While the Bible passage is missing from the chapter, it does not hurt the overall point of the chapter or book. If you a Christian married couple who desires your marriage to serve as a witness before a watching world, you will want to read and discuss together Enter the Ring. May your marriage be a billboard for the gospel message!

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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