Dr. Kennedy is a member of Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland.
Holding Hands, Holding Hearts, Richard and Sharon Phillips. P&R Publishing 2006. Paperback. 183 pages. [Reviewed by Dr. Julian Kennedy (NI).]
This is an excellent guide for young and not-so-young people contemplating marriage, looking for a mate, or already embarked upon courting. The authors are Presbyterians who rightly state that our ultimate satisfaction is in God alone, not a mate, and that He is the sovereign Matchmaker. They speak from their own personal experience and from their seeing and advising many couples.
They start with creation and God’s purpose for marriage, which they say is based in commitment (leaving and cleaving), intimacy (one flesh), and interdependence (head and helpmeet). They are very insightful in their consideration of the results of sin in Eden and how this affected Adam and Eve and everyone since. Here I quote: “Instead of waiting on God, women are tempted to manipulate a man and capture him for marriage. Instead of finding satisfaction in God, they seek happiness in man.” Also: “…feminine sin involves disrespect toward men, challenging for control, belittling comments, incessant nagging, and exploiting his weaknesses.” In Christ, relationships are redeemed when He is the center of two lives. “Manipulation gives way to ministry.”
Concerning men: “The enemy that men need to stand up to is the one who lives within themselves: the one who is selfish, insensitive, and uncommitted.” Both men and women need to seek godliness rather than looks in a prospective mate. This is wisdom. The authors give good advice to follow before first starting to date and then in what to do on dates. They emphasize absolute purity in the relationship before marriage. They wisely start with marriage roles and then work back into dating roles. As the relationship progresses, or doesn’t, as the case may be, they say that “counsel, prayer and accountability” are vital. Their last chapter, on singleness, will be helpful to all in that position.