Marriage in Gospel Focus

2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference


What is the meaning of marriage? In this 49-minute session from the 2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, Kathy and Tim Keller contrast distorted cultural assumptions about marriage with its biblical purpose. 

Tim is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He is also co-founder and Vice President of The Gospel Coalition and the author of numerous books. Kathy is Assistant Director of communications at Redeemer. Kathy and Tim co-authored The Meaning of Marriage.  



Tim said, “At one point, marriage was subordinate me to us, subordinate me to the public good, subordinate me for my long-term character development. Today, very overtly, marriage is about me.” 

How has this cultural assumption affected your dating relationships or marriage? Why is it so dangerous?
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Tim quoted Stanley Hauerwas who said, “The primary challenge throughout the course of marriage is to love and care for the stranger you find yourself married to.” If you are married, how have you found this to be true? How has marriage changed you?
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Tim said, “Real love is sacrificial service and then the increasing delight that comes from someone you’ve invested your love in... It is each person holding on, taking hold, giving up, trying harder, moving through, embracing, repenting, forgiving, showing grace to each other. Slowly, real love grows, and you admire that other person for what she has been through for you and vice versa.” 

If you are married, what has been the hardest thing for you to sacrifice and why? How has your spouse loved you through sacrifice? How has the mutual investment of love increased your admiration for each other?
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Kathy said, “Christian marriage is an apologetic vehicle, a visible window into the character and life of Christ, His work, and His salvation.” In whose marriage relationship have you seen Jesus and how? If you are married, who might be watching your marriage and what would they learn about the gospel?
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Kathy walked us through the biblical meaning of headship and submission. About headship, she said, “Jesus took the ego and self-centeredness out of authority, and redefined it as service, death, for the happiness and holiness of His bride.” To help explain submission, she took us to Philippians 2:4–11.  

Philippians 2:4-11 (ESV)

4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


How have you wrestled to biblically understand gender roles, and how did this session bring clarity? How were you encouraged in your role?
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What men in your life have embodied headship? What does submission look like in your life and marriage?
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May we lean into the power and grace of Jesus to make our marriage all that it was designed to be–the greatest relationship possible apart from our relationship with God. 


To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here