SBTS prof compiles 50 historical reflections on marriage in new book
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — As husbands and wives consider biblical marriage with Valentine's Day approaching, a new book by professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers historical reflections on marriage from major figures in church history.
In Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, co-authors Robert L. Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern, and Matthew D. Haste, associate professor of ministry studies at Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry in Columbia, South Carolina, provide biblical reflections and personal application to accompany each historical selection. The idea for this book began with Plummer’s desire to collect the main ideas from other marriage books he was reading.
“My thought was, 'I wish I could just take one paragraph out of that because that's the main point, and just read that because I don't really have a whole lot of time.' I just really wanted the meat of something,” Plummer explained. “Then when I would read something like Luther's famous essay on the estate of marriage, I would realize that it was written 500 years ago, but it was really good. … I really liked the feeling of being connected to the historic witness to the church.”
Describing Ephesians 4, Plummer said that Held in Honor embodies the passage’s explanation that God raises up leaders and teachers continually throughout history. This book seeks to provide condensed historical documents as personal witnesses of the challenge and beauty of a God-centered marriage.
These two thoughts, wanting the big points of larger books and recognizing the value of sharing personal experiences and wisdom throughout the historic age of the church, led to a vision for Held in Honor.
“Most people in this life will be married,” Plummer said. “And I think that as people approach marriage, and as they are married, most people are woefully unprepared for that. They are probably better prepared to drive a car than they are to be married, they have more training. This is a way to provide accessible, interesting, real advice and quotes regarding marriage.”
“My desire is that God would use it to strengthen a lot of marriages and glorify himself with that.” He continued. “[Marriage] is a witness to the christian churches honoring the sacred covenant of marriage given by God throughout history in a very positive and attractive way.”
Marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church, Plummer said. Therefore, honoring the testimony of the church and the stance it has held throughout time was an important aspect to include in the book.
“We focused on what the church has said about marriage,” Haste said. “And, ideally, demonstrated the definition of marriage that has been consistent for two millennia. There has been an appreciation of and an honoring of marriage since the ascension of Christ, and before, of course, among the people of God.”
Plummer and Haste’s relationship began when Haste was a distance learning student at Southern. Working toward his M.Div., Haste participated in Plummer’s online Greek class. At that time Haste explains that Southern was a “resource bank … and a place to learn.” But halfway through his Ph.D. program, Haste and his family moved to Louisville and Southern became more like a family.
“[As I] finished my Ph.D., I really got to enjoy the blessings of the Southern community including my friends in Ph.D. studies, fellow students, and then also, and especially, the professors,” Haste said.
It was during this time Haste and Plummer’s relationship grew stronger.
“I had him in a doctoral seminar, and he was doing his dissertation on something related with marriage and history. So I asked if he was willing to be a co-author [on the book],” Plummer said in an interview. “Having taught Matt, and then having worked with Matt on this, it gives me so much joy.
“Most people do an online program and they don't get to know their professors. So here is a student who did an online program, got to know me, pursued further study, we got to know each other quite well, and we did a project – we wrote a book together.”
Working on the book while completing his Ph.D. encouraged Haste to remember that his responsibility as a husband exceeds any other responsibility he has and keeping that at the forefront of his mind through the writing of this book helped him to pursue his role faithfully.
“Whether it is through reading a marriage devotional or just reflecting on scripture or whatever means you might pursue, I would just encourage husbands and wives to keep the call of marriage before them,” Haste said. “It is a daily duty. You don’t have vacations. You don’t have breaks. I think we all need to be stirred up by way of reminder.”
Held in Honor released Oct. 20 and can be purchased at amazon.com.
Selected quotes from Held in Honor:
- “When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His.” C. S. LEWIS (1898–1963)
- “The woman was made for the man; not merely for the gratification of his appetites, but of his rational and social nature. It was not good that man should be alone; and therefore a helper that should be meet, or suitable was given him.” ANDREW FULLER (1754–1815)
- “The affection of Christian husbands and wives must be established upon a firmer basis. The husband must love his wife, not only for the charms of her person, the sweetness of her manners, or even the affection he knows she bears him but, above all, because their supreme Benefactor, the Lord of heaven and earth, has said, “Husband, love your wives.”” HENRY VENN (1725–1797)
- “It is not enough to put on our religion when we go abroad and appear before men; but we must govern ourselves by it in our families. Those that are in public stations are not thereby excused from care in governing their families; nay, rather, they are more concerned to set a good example of ruling their own houses well (1 Tim. 3:4). David had his hands full of public affairs, yet he returned to bless his house (2 Sam. 6:20).” MATTHEW HENRY (1662–1714)
- “The pure woman is adorned with the Son of God as with a bridegroom. She is clothed with holy light. Her beauty lies in a well-regulated soul; and she is fragrant with ointment, even with a good reputation. She is arrayed in beautiful clothing, even in modesty. She wears about her precious pearls, even pure words. And she is radiant, for her mind has been brilliantly lighted up.” THE CLEMENTINE HOMILIES (c. 250)