I’ll get right to it. With One Voice: Singleness, Dating and Marriage to the Glory of God by Alex & Marni Chediak is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Aside from skillful wordsmithing and intuitive organization, the book hits a home run when it comes to addressing the topic at hand.
There are not too many books out there which deal with how to find a mate, yet are written from a wholly Christian and Biblical perspective. And even then, some of the books which qualify as Biblical and Christian major on a specific dating (or anti-dating) method to the detriment of a well-rounded Christian philosophy of dating in general. This book provides just that: a distinctly Christian approach to the philosophy of singleness, dating, and marriage.
Alex Chediak, with the help of his wife Marni, begins the book by detailing the pervasive cultural changes which influence our view of dating. He shows how a changing job market has spread out families, and focused on the value of individuals in the marketplace. Technological and commercial advances have coupled with the increasingly personalized society to lure courtship from the parents’ front porch to the drive-in movie theater and eventually to live-in relationships. The Chediaks also highlight how the new concept of delayed adolescence gave room for today’s entertainment and me-oriented culture. One widespread result of these cultural changes is the tendency for young adults to remain single until they are almost 30. Confronted with these changes, which certainly threaten a Christian view of marriage and sexuality, Alex doesn’t just settle for an appeal to bring back the golden days of yesteryear. He calls such nostalgic responses “unwarranted and misplaced”, which often “fall short of addressing the heart issues”. Men have always been sinful. The Christian response should be to study culture with a view of applying Biblical principles in such a way as to redeem and confront it.
After setting the stage, the book goes on to emphasize that marriage should be normal. Excepting those gifted for lifelong singleness, marriage is God’s will for the Christian young person. That being the case, cross-gender relationships should not be all about fun and enjoyment, rather they should be intentionally focused on the reality of marriage. Before detailing how a single adult should go about finding a mate, Alex & Marni lay an important foundation by discussing a Biblical view of masculinity and femininity, and the concepts of leading and submitting. They do this, because one of the book’s primary themes is for singles to focus on becoming the right kind of person first, before looking for the right potential mate.
The wisdom of the Chediaks shine through in the final two chapters detailing how to “choose [a mate] wisely” and “proceed carefully” with your relationship. There is a wealth of wisdom available as they discuss objective and subjective considerations necessary in a prospective mate, and the intentional and careful progression of a relationship. There couldn’t be a more practical “how to” book for this process, yet at the same time the book gives plenty of space for a variety of methods to be used. Instead of a detailed prescription, the book offers an undergirding framework of Bibilical principles upon which to erect a healthy and successful, Biblically faithful relationship.
This book comes at the marriage issue from a Biblically faithful, conservative theology. It does not offer a theological defense of a complementarian view of masculinity and femininity. Nor does it defend the Biblical priority of marriage and denial of extra-marital sexual activity. Instead it assumes these views and aims to be very practical. This in good part forms the strength of the book. It helps you think Biblically about marriage and dating, and supports you in your quest for a godly mate. I wish I had such a book when I was thinking through my own dating philosophy. It would have saved me much time and grief in thinking through such things on my own!
There isn’t much to say by way of criticizing the book. Perhaps it could have brought up the influence of the romantic movement in the 1800s on society’s present view of dating and marriage. Also some of the statistics on page 22 are a little hard to follow. But all in all, this is a fantastic book. It is extremely easy to read, with large font and a well-written, fast moving arrangement. It is a short read, being only about 140 pages long; yet it will be an incredibly profitable read. I recommend the book to singles everywhere of any age, and also to youth pastors, pastors and parents. Indeed, there is much wisdom available even for those singles who feel especially frustrated in finding a mate. So by all means get this book, you’ll thank me later!
Note: you can learn more about the authors and the book here.