Breaking the Marriage Idol by Kutter Callaway is not so much a book about marriage, but about the way we think about marriage in the church and society. 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.
Callaway masterfully constructs an argument for how the modern church has become distracted by pagan norms for sexual expression and marriage, and why this contributes to our idealization of marriage and the marginalization of unmarried persons. This phenomenon exists despite the fact that unmarried people make up the majority of Sunday morning attendees. In light of the fact that most Christians either do not marry or have unsuccessful marriages, Callaway asks believers why marriage is considered to be the pinnacle of human relationship. Utilizing theological arguments which demonstrate that marriage is not the Biblical ideal for all believers, Callaway challenges readers to consider marriage with less of the magical thinking promoted in The Little Mermaid and The Bachelor, and more of the sobering reflection necessary to survive the perils inherent in such a commitment.
The book assumes the parity of men and women in the church and home, but goes even further, using arguments against patriarchy to support the equality of married and unmarried persons in church life. It appeals to the psyche of the modern Christian woman, who has long ago rejected the helpless Cinderella waiting for a man to complete her, but still feels torn between pursuing her heart's desire for expressing her God-given gifts, and the nagging feeling that she must be wed to be complete. The author points out that youth, beauty, sexuality, and marriage are still paramount, no matter how liberated today's Disney princesses become.
Arguing that the church has bought in to the Hollywood notion that marriage is the antidote to sexual promiscuity, Callaway calls the church to provide new stories to refute this superficial formula, abandoning our consumer view of Christian marriage which makes one's future spouse an idol and relegates celibate persons to the sidelines of the church. He outlines how we might recreate our narratives about sensuality, defined as depth of relationship with God and other believers of all ages and marital statuses, which will satisfy the ache for community that eros cannot.
Breaking the Marriage Idol outlines how we must retell our stories from the pulpit, through our organization of church leadership and ministry subgroups, as well as in our literature and media, in order to give unmarried and married persons equal opportunity and esteem. The thinking Christian is provided with hope and vision for how the church can become a place where love for the other is the pinnacle, and both unmarried and married persons lead and follow side by side, representing the best expression of God's intent for his people.