When Sinners Say “I Do” (Book Review)

When Sinners Say View book details at WTS Bookstore

Dave Harvey has written a very helpful and gospel-centered book on relationships in general and marriage in particular.  He writes in a conversational style that makes the book almost sound like transcribed sermon manuscripts, but in this case that is not such a bad thing.  The style of the prose makes for very easy and engaging reading.  In fact, I’ve noticed that when visitors in my home pick it up out of curiosity from the coffee table, they usually cannot put it down without reading at least a few chapters.  I asked one of those who thought it interesting about his impressions: “It’s obviously very biblically based and an easy read.  He is a good writer who grabbed my attention.”

As for the content of the book, Harvey follows a pretty straightforward template for each chapter.  Without rigidly using the same order, he includes personal anecdotes from his own marriage (usually praising his wife and family and poking fun at himself), stories from his marriage counseling experience as a pastor (including stories that start at the beginning of the chapter and are later finished at the end of the chapter), and advice for sinners in how to live the gospel in their marriages and other relationships.  Chapter titles include:

  1. What Really Matters in Marriage
  2. Waking Up With the Worst of Sinners
  3. The Fog of War and the Law of Sin
  4. Taking it Out for a Spin
  5. Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment
  6. Forgiveness, Full and Free
  7. The Surgeon, the Scalpel, and the Spouse in Sin
  8. Stubborn Grace
  9. Concerning Sex
  10. When Sinners Say Goodbye

His chapters on Forgiveness (6) and Death (10) are alone worth the price of the book.  Regarding the topic of forgiveness, the author shares a story of a man who commits adultery against his wife and God, and how this terrible sin almost destroyed their marriage but was ultimately rescued by the power of repentance, confession, and forgiveness that they found in the gospel of Christ.  Harvey shares with the reader lengthy journal entries from the husband and wife, detailing the depths of the pain of sin and the heights of the forgiveness they find in God and each other.  I doubt anyone, especially those personally touched by the evils of adultery, will remain unaffected by the forgivenes described.  Similarly, this book is a rare in its genre of Christian marriage books in dealing with the subject of death.  Again, the chapter on death fittingly closes the treatment of marriage in that it serves as the intended climax of marriage (til death do you apart).  Death is tragic and inevitable, and every spouse surely looks ahead with a sense of trepidation to the death of their life partner.  Harvey treats the subject with dignity and hope, pointing the Christian husband and wife beyond death to the resurrection at the last day.  Death may be the end of marriage, but it is not the end of our relationships for those people who trust in Jesus and live the gospel of grace.

When Sinners Say I Do is not a list of do’s and don’ts in marriage, nor a how-to manual for Christian marriage.  It is something better.  It is a roadmap for life, a guide saturated with Scripture and the gospel for those of us who admit we are hopeless sinners and who seek forgiveness, salvation, and life at the foot of the cross of Christ.

(Disclosure: A copy of this book was given to me for review.)

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