Second, I would have preferred that Thomas anchor some of his arguments more explicitly and robustly in the gospel of grace. To be fair, Thomas does bring in the gospel at key points. But since we may never make perfectly clean choices, we need the good news that God is still faithful to redeem our poor choices, and an additional section to this effect would have strengthened the book. At moments I felt Thomas was being a bit too optimistic in his approach to the marriage search. While I agree with almost everything he suggests, life is messy, and even the most well-made marriage choices unite two sinners who must fight for faith and fight for grace, with and for each other. Since even the godliest marriages are fallen and finite, Jesus is the key, not good behavioral instincts.
In no way do I think Thomas was commending a legalistic, behavior-centered approach. But readers less initiated in filling in the gospel blanks may come away with something like that impression. Also, I would have appreciated a bit more on what it looks like to be led by biblical truth and wisdom, and to find someone who really is a potentially good spouse, but who is still in the throes of spiritual growth. What does that look like? How does one tell between someone who should not be pursued and someone who is a good choice but has not arrived yet? I can see that many thoughtful young people might wrestle with what seems to be over-simplicity at points.
Would I give this book to the young people of my church? Yes, I would. To my children? Indeed. Like I said at the beginning, I am glad this book is on the market, and I am thankful for the vision-shaping truths it conveys.
Jay Thomas is pastor of Chapel Hill Bible Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is the co-author, with Gerald Hiestand, of Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach (Crossway).