Breaking the Marriage Idol: Reconstructing Our Cultural and Spiritual Norms, By Kutter Callaway

Breaking the Marriage Idol

Reconstructing Our Cultural and Spiritual Norms

by Kutter Callaway

Breaking the Marriage Idol
  • Length: 278 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: June 26, 2018
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4542
  • ISBN: 9780830845422

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Should all Christians be married?

Although we might quickly respond "no," our cultural stories and norms—including those in the church—often communicate "yes."

Theologian and husband Kutter Callaway considers why marriage, which is a blessing from God, shouldn't be expected or required of all Christians. Through an examination of Scripture, cultural analysis, and personal accounts, he reflects on how our narratives have limited our understanding of marriage and obscured our view of the life-giving and kingdom-serving roles of single people in the church.

In doing so, Callaway helps the church craft a new story that transforms the way we look at marriage and affirms the contributions of all to the body of Christ.

"In Breaking the Marriage Idol Kutter Callaway has tread where few have gone before. What Kutter has done for us is offer a balanced, thoughtful, and theological exploration of culturally difficult, if not ecclesially taboo issues, that many in our culture and our churches live through every day. I have known Dr. Callaway for many years, and there are few in pastoral ministry or the academy who I respect more. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for every Christian who is willing to invite God into real life. Not because we all will agree, but because we all had better join the conversation."

Chap Clark, professor of practical theology and youth, family, and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers

"Kutter's right. Churches' marriage promise and allure of happily ever after has cast many into a subclass existence. He carefully confronts Christians' assumptions about singleness, marriage, community, and personhood and leads us toward a helpful direction that is good news for singles, marrieds, young, and old. Kutter is being more than a relevant theologian. He is a culturally in tune thinker that possesses the unique ability to reorient our categories of the popular and religious, the relevant and traditional, sacred and secular. This book bridges the gaps for needed conversations that can help us escape the binary, anemic, and often hurtful views that keep, especially those in our faith communities, from having generative conversations. Whatever you do, do not read this book alone. Read it with your partner, your friends, your community. Let it lead you into better conversations about faith, love, sex, singleness, marriage, and community. We all know we need them."

Steven Argue, assistant professor of youth, family, and culture, applied research strategist at Fuller Youth Institute, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Kutter Callaway has written and assembled a rich tool for reflection on marriage and relationships in today's milieu. Its honest, provocative, and savvy engagement, combined with biblical and theological considerations, makes it a strong resource. Some of the additional voices—especially Joshua Beckett's—make it that much richer."

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary

"I've been waiting for someone to write a book like this: a culturally astute, refreshingly iconoclastic critique of evangelical Christianity's marriage myopia. Beyond the shattered remnants of the marriage idol, singleness and marriage emerge as equally and uniquely beautiful vocations within which followers of Christ can steward our sexualities. I'm eager for you to read this book. I'm even more eager for you to believe it."

Gregory Coles, author of Single, Gay, Christian

"Sincere in its effort to make the church more inclusive."

Sandra Collins, Library Journal, June 15, 2018

"This book is recommended for pastors, church leaders, Christian educators, and artists interested in transforming the cultural norms of the Church to grow a more just and loving community of God where married and unmarried persons are equally valued at all levels of Church life."

Andrea Kulberg, CBE International, Spring 2019



Part I: The Church and Culture as Easy Bedfellows
1. Disney Princesses, Taylor Swift, and The Bachelor: Pop Culture as Premarital Counselor and Sex Therapist
2. The Internal Narratives of Contemporary Evangelicalism: Waiting on True Love, Kissing Dating Goodbye, and Bringing Up Princes and Princesses

Part II: Reconsidering the Biblical Witness
3. Bone of My Bones and Flesh of My Flesh: The First Testament on Marriage and What It Means to Be Human
4. Like a Virgin: The New Testament on Singleness and What It Means to Be Sexual

Part III: Developing a Theological Framework
5. The Call of Marriage (or, Why Christians Should Get Married)
6. Desire in Singleness: Ascetics and Eternity (or, Why Christians Don’t Need to Get Married) (By Joshua Beckett)
7. Sex, Saints, and Singleness: Practical (Re)Consideration
Conclusion: A Family Who Forgives Together . . .

General Index
Scripture Index


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Kutter Callaway

Kutter Callaway (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of Watching TV Religiously: Television and Theology in Dialogue and Scoring Transcendence: Contemporary Film Music as Religious Experience.