J.I. Packer introduces the book by saying that if the author, a recently married student of his who wanted to be a writer, had spoken to him about using marriage as the theme of his first book, he would have pointed out that:
'Marriage...is a terribly difficult topic on which to write wisely and well...that the Christian world is already full of bad books in marriage...that young authors rarely write with any depth about relationships anyway...' etc.
However, Mike Mason did not consult him about what he planned to do, went ahead and wrote the book and the result, according to J.I. Packer, was an outstanding achievement:
Rarely...has a new book roused in me so much enthusiasm as has the combination of wisdom, depth, dignity, and glow - I don't know what else to call it - that I find in these chapters...
Their tone quality, resonating as it does off the Bible as its sounding board, is richer than we are used to...
This is one of those books that you need to go back and mull over. I've underlined so many parts of this book and there's so much I could share but at risk of transcribing the whole thing, I'll limit myself to a few quotes:
A marriage, or a marriage partner, may be compared to a great tree growing right up through the center of one's living room. It is something that is just there, and it is huge, and everything has been built around it, and wherever one happens to be going - to the fridge, to bed, to the bathroom, or out the front door - the tree has to be taken into account. It cannot be gone through; it must respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and stronger than oneself. True, it could be chopped down, but not without tearing the house apart. And certainly it is beautiful, unique, exotic: but also, let's face it, it is at times an enormous inconvenience.
What is most unique about the tenacious fidelity of marriage is that it allows for such a really brutal amount of "sharpening" to take place, yet in the gentlest way imaginable. Who ever heard of being sharpened against a warm, familiar body of flesh? Only the Lord could have devised such an awesomely tender and heartwarming means for men and women to be made into swords.
The Lord God made woman out of man's side and closed up place with flesh, but in marriage He reopens this empty, aching place in man and begins the process of putting the woman back again...
Marriage involves a continuous daily renewal of a decision which, since it is of such a staggering order as to be humanly impossible to make, can only be made through the grace of God.
To put it simply, marriage is a relationship far more engrossing than we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be.
The Mystery of Marriage was first published in 1985 by Multnomah Books.