Christian preacher Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa Chan, have written a new book for couples who may be so caught up in trying to have the perfect marriage that they have unwittingly made their union, spouse or children into idols.
"The whole idea behind it is, sometimes couples can get so wrapped up on things here to where they're not focused on the kingdom," explains Mr. Chan in a promotional video for You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity.
In the video, Lisa Chan suggests that marriages are about a mission, and not "about how satisfied and happy are we with one another." Her husband points to 1 Corinthians 7, where the Apostle Paul discusses marriage as a potential distraction. Mr. Chan notes that "he was saying how we want to secure undistracted or undivided devotion to the Lord."
Mr. Chan, who says he felt called by God to write You and Me Forever, wants to give away as many copies of the book as possible.
"I want everyone to get this. I believe it's something God has asked me write, and so my whole burden is I've got to get it to as many people as possible. That's why we decided to self-publish because I wanted to be able to give it away for free, to everyone who needs it," he explains.
Proceeds from actual purchases of the book, however, will be used to provide food, shelter and rehabilitation for orphaned and exploited women through charitable organizations working around the globe.
According to an article on the website of Eternity Bible College, the school founded by Mr. Chan, You and Me Forever is not like the plethora of other marriage books that have already been written: "What you won't find here is a handbook of communication principles, advice to strengthen your sex life, or guidelines for handling finances."
Watch the Chans discuss You and Me Forever, available August 26, in the video player below.
The Chans, who have five children (with a sixth on the way), have spoken previously about God's design for marriage, with Mr. Chan saying in one sermon, "I think we've been looking at marriage in the wrong way in the Church."
He made the remark while teaching on the subject in 2011 at Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, the congregation the Chans founded in 1994 and eventually left in 2010. In the message titled "Two People With One Mission," Mr. Chan went on to say that couples who feel inhibited about serving God because they think they first have to get their marriage together, have their priorities backwards.
"You focus on your family, you focus on your marriage, you focus on your kids because you're going, 'Man, we're not the model family. I shouldn't be leading, I shouldn't be teaching.' I'm saying, if you try to do that, it's never gonna work," said Chan.
Instead, "Being focused on the mission is actually what brings your family together," he insisted.
The Crazy Love author then rattled off typical advice newlyweds might receive about their marriage and family life.
"The first year of marriage is supposed to be just for the two of you. Don't get into ministry, focus on each other. You need to be about yourselves, get that right. Then once you have a kid it's like, well you know it's a new baby, you have to really nurture those first couple of years. Now they're in school, well until they're 18, you really have to just focus on your family,'" said Chan.
Implementing such an approach actually goes against what the Bible demands, according to Chan.
"I'm saying that's going to destroy your family and it creates a terrible model for your kids — 'Oh, OK, family comes first. Serving God, we can put that aside until it's convenient.'"
He added, "That's going to destroy you. The very thing that bonds us together is the fact that we're on this mission together. It's like Jesus said, if you seek the kingdom first ...
"When we put the family first and say, 'OK, we have to protect this, we have to guard it, we have to work on our marriage,' and that's your emphasis, then you're just like everyone else out there that just wants a happy marriage."
"Well, God says, 'You seek the kingdom first and watch what happens. Watch what happens in your family, watch what happens in your marriage, watch what happens with your kids,'" said Chan.
Since resigning from leadership of the Cornerstone Community Church, Chan has spearheaded a discipling movement with Alabama pastor David Platt called Multiply, as well as his own house-church planting movement called We Are Church.