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Alistair Begg on the Basics of Marriage

June 2022 Letter

Dear Friend,

Learning how to swing a golf club successfully is not easy, but it is straightforward. One of my heroes, Byron Nelson, entitled his autobiography How I Played the Game. In 1945 he won 18 tournaments, 11 of them consecutively. The key to his success lay not in spectacular displays of individual talent but in his ability to “do the basics” well and with consistency. As in golf, so too in marriage: it is not easy, but it is straightforward, and learning to “do the basics” is vitally important.

It all begins with God’s gracious provision from the beginning: one man and one woman in a heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong commitment to each other. It sounds serious—and it is! The covenant of marriage is to be entered upon not lightly or carelessly but thoughtfully, with reverence for God and with due consideration of the purposes for which it was established by God: the companionship of husband and wife, the provision of children, and the welfare of human society, which can be strong and happy only when the marriage bond is held in honor.

I wonder: Have we taken seriously the evangelistic potential of a good marriage and a well-ordered family? This involves daily reminders of our need of grace to fulfill the roles established for us by God within our families.

On our honeymoon, Sue and I were invited to spend a day in the home of Billy and Ruth Graham. They gave us two books by Charlie W. Shedd—Letters to Karen, for Susan, with a kind greeting; and for me, Letters to Philip, with a pointed inscription: “Alistair — Read this soon before you become an expert!” Now, as we anticipate our 47th anniversary, that cautionary word from Ruth is still relevant. Every little action of the common day makes, or unmakes, for a good marriage.

Every pastor needs a wife, if for no other reason than to keep him humble. It is surely fitting that in a letter like this, I acknowledge how indebted I am to Susan for her prayerful, fun-filled, quiet, selfless friendship. She remains “My Dearest Friend.” As the days go by (to borrow a line from James Taylor), “I wish that I could slow the whole thing down and have it all back again, just one more time.”

My friends Chad and Emily Van Dixhoorn have done us all a great favor by writing one of the books we are offering this month. Gospel-Shaped Marriage is thoroughly biblical and wonderfully practical. Our second offer is Lasting Love. My hope is that in reading the book, you’ll benefit from some of the fundamentals that make a marriage a loving, learning, sharing, and growing experience.

With my love in the Lord Jesus,




Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.