(Not that I've actually experienced surgery without anesthesia, but my friend Meredith has--an appendectomy, no less--and she told me all about it. Seriously.)
The truth in the book continually cut into the cancer of sin in my heart. All that said, When Sinners Say "I Do": Discovering the Power of the Gospel in Marriage, by Dave Harvey, is excellent.
A few things that hit me hard from this book:
1. When my marriage is in conflict, the first place to look is myself, my own sin. Dave Harvey says it so well:
...Jesus tells us, our own sin must loom large in our sight. It must be, by far,
the primary and more significant issue...If you suspect yourself
(humility), you are more likely to inspect yourself first (integrity).
This road feels narrow to us, because we are constantly looking for an off-ramp
to focus on the sins of someone else. But if we stay on it, we can be confident
that it will take us where Jesus wants us to go. [p.66-67]
2. Once I have "removed the log" from my own eye, I am called to lovingly remove the "speck" from my husband's eye. I am God's instrument to confront sin in my husband's life.
3. A lot of marriage teaching today focuses on needs, teaching that marital conflict is because of unmet needs or unspoken love languages. Harvey challenges this notion in Chapter 4:
Guess what? Your last heated exchange was not caused by an unsatisfied need; it
was not "her lack of respect" or "his lack of affection." It was caused by
renegade desires--"passions at war within us." ...we must see that Scripture
places the blame for conflict squarely on our passions--on how much I
want something, regardless of how "legitimate" that desire is. If my
desire is so strong that I am tempted to sin, then the problem is entirely me.
It's my desire, my sin, the grimy oil in my own heart erupting in response to
the heat of circumstances. With a sentence or two, James [4:1-2] masterfully
shifts our entire paradigm from something we're missing (an unmet need)
to something we're doing (passionately desiring something we're not
getting). [p. 72-73]
3. He makes this profound statement about confrontation:
If we avoid confrontation, we'll just get confrontation anyway, because sin
unaddressed is sin unconfined. [p.127]
(Now that's something to chew on.)
4. I'm so glad I persevered to the end of this book, because I thought the last chapter was the best. "When Sinners Say Goodbye" explains how, in marriage, we are preparing one another for heaven. Harvey discusses how we might grieve the loss of a spouse in a way that glorifies God by acknowledging eternity. He also beautifully illustrates how the life of a widow or widower should be lived for the glory of God.
Near the end of the book, Harvey refers to his discussions on marriage as "less travelled paths." Indeed, if you read this, you are in for an eye-opening walk through less travelled paths of biblical teaching on marriage.