[Note: This book review appeared originally on my other blog, strictly for book reviews, but I thought it worthwhile to put here as well considering the context of my recent piece on anti-celibacy counseling.]
Am I The One?: Clues To Finding & Becoming A Person Worth Marrying, by James R.Lucas
Part hip how-to-guide to preparing for marriage and part textbook, this slim volume is a useful read for anyone who is either serious about a relationship, or serious about the institution of marriage itself. The book is relatively short (a little over two hundred pages, including the end notes), but filled with a lot of wise questions, timely (and sometimes grim) statistics, and thought-provoking analysis about marriage. As the book is written by a mainstream Christian author of conservative moral standards, its advice on sex is quite biblical. Indeed, the Church of God as a whole could use some lessons from the chapter on sex, both on avoiding sterility and appreciating the joy of sexuality within marriage but also the wise warning to avoid premarital sex and the often-resulting “shotgun marriages,” which are seen not infrequently even among young couples in the Church.
The book itself is organized in twelve chapters with a very short introduction and concluding epilogue, and four parts in between. Part One examines the solid foundation for relationships in general, with four chapters on the issues of “having fun,” becoming a person worth knowing and marrying, finding a person worth knowing and marrying, and avoiding “dumb dating.” Part Two examines the sober realities about relationships and marriage, with chapters on avoiding turning marriage into a hanging, exploring twelve lousy reasons to marry, and twelve types of “problem people” to avoid. This last chapter within the section, which explores the need to avoid people with anger problems, addictions, a history of broken relationships, manipulative personalities, score keeping tendencies, war making tendencies, pride, greed, worry, judgmental attitudes, a lack of discernment, and hypocrisy, are valid not only for marriage but any kind of relationship. Part Three examines the more pleasant aspect of recognizing a good match for a great marriage (the part all of us who are single want to get to), with chapters on the best reasons for getting marriage (including benefits to spiritual life and a reciprocal recognition of mutual love), the twelve things to be sure of before getting married, and ten ways to know you have found “the one.” These three chapters are particularly useful for those in a serious relationship and examining if it is “the one.” Part Four closes on celebrating singleness and its God-given purposes (which can be neglected by some singles) as well as the previously mentioned chapter on the unavoidable subject of sex. Each chapter closes with discussion questions for each reader to answer alone as well as “together” (with the assumption, not always accurate, that the reader is involved in a relationship), and some that are supposed to be discussed with a pastor, who is presumably counseling the couple for marriage. The book therefore is designed to provide the reader/couple reading together with a sense of accountability to themselves, to each other, and to their Church.
As is the case with many books, the last words in this book provide the true summation of the point of the book, which is: “The quote at the beginning of this chapter said, “No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.” If you do life right, you can be the one to love that way. And to be loved—the way you want to be loved.” Indeed, the purpose of reading a book like this, and in spending the time to answer for yourself its many and penetrating discussion questions, is to make sure that you develop into the sort of person who can love someone the right way, because you wish to be loved that way yourself. Isn’t that the reason we prepare for marriage anyway?