Choosing Us

Marriage and Mutual Flourishing in a World of Difference

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For years, people have asked Gail Song Bantum and Brian Bantum to reveal the secret to their marriage as a multiracial Christian couple, each with a high-profile ministry calling. This book reveals the lessons, mistakes, and principles that have helped the Bantums navigate race, family history, and gender dynamics in their twenty-plus years of marriage, while inspiring readers to pursue mutual flourishing in their marriages and relationships.

Marriage is about more than constant bliss or unending sacrifice, say the Bantums. It's about exploring your own story, seeing the other for who they are (even as they change), and being flexible in discovering how those differences and stories come alive in new ways when joined together. It's the discovery of life in the gaps and the mysteries that emerge when we live in mutuality, believing that fullness is possible for each.

Choosing Us reflects the realities and demands of modern marriage and respects the callings and ambitions of both partners. It shows that marriage is about choosing the other's flourishing on a daily basis, amid differences and even systemic obstacles, to build a relationship that thrives and reflects the kingdom of God.

Prologue: Our Why
1. The Plan
2. Learning the Other
3. Race and Belonging
4. It's a Man's World? Gender and Marriage from a Man's Perspective
5. Glass Bulbs and Rubber Balls: Gender and Marriage from a Woman's Perspective
6. Our Golden Rule
7. Covenant for Community


"Marriage books written by people who aren't therapists or marriage researchers are usually full of 'common nonsense' that has little bearing upon marital success. Choosing Us is the exception. It is the long-awaited resource for couples committed to building progressive, equitable relationships where both partners have highly demanding careers. It is not a how-to guide to replicating Gail and Brian's relationship. It is a source of wisdom for creating your own."

Chanequa Walker-Barnes, clinical psychologist and author of I Bring the Voices of My People

"How can we flourish together? What does mutual submission really entail? Why must I look inward before casting blame on my partner? When there are no models, how do we build something healthy together? While there are countless marriage books, few focus on cultivating egalitarian unions where couples grow together and individually fulfill their created purpose. Choosing Us achieves this and equips readers to love selflessly, even when it's counterintuitive and inconvenient. This book will bless your marriage and empower you to love your partner more authentically. It illuminates how couples can thrive beyond the honeymoon phase and go the distance together."

Dominique DuBois Gilliard, author of Subversive Witness: Scripture's Call to Leverage Privilege and Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores

"I'm so grateful to Gail and Brian for sharing their story with us. In these honest pages about marriage, choice, family, and self-discovery, you'll find room for your own stories. This book is a gift for those seeking to create flourishing marriages of mutuality."

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and editor of the New York Times bestseller A Rhythm of Prayer

"Tender, true, and practical, Choosing Us is a gift. I'm so grateful to Gail and Brian for opening their stories and hearts and offering this abundance of wisdom hard-won through their many years of marriage."

Jeff Chu, cocurator, Evolving Faith; author of Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

"Marriage is a journey, and no matter where you and your spouse are in it, Choosing Us is an important guide. The Bantums share with tender honesty, inviting us into their past, and offer incisive questions, encouraging us in our present. They do not shy away from pointing out how gender, racial, and ethnic identity and cultural norms can shape faith and marriage, inviting all readers to consider the assumptions and expectations we bring into it. Do yourself and your marriage a favor. Read this book."

Kathy Khang, author of Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up

"Choosing Us arrived on my desk at the right moment in my marriage of thirty years. Without minimizing how hard it is to sustain a marriage, especially when negotiating differences in race and culture, the Bantums demonstrate that marriage is difficult but worth it. They open the inner sanctum of their trials and growth as a couple struggling to fight their own demons and those inherited from family and culture, letting the light in and the wisdom born out of their faith and struggle to come through. Choosing Us speaks transparently to readers of our naive assumptions about love and lopsided gender roles that we bring into marriage. Gail and Brian bring their full selves to this book, two strong-minded people willing to listen, negotiate, forgive, and grow. Choosing Us offers readers invaluable lessons on how to use natural differences and conflicts to work toward a loving relationship that is built on the strength of one's differences, creating a healthy marriage as the first step in building a just world."

Renita J. Weems, minister, biblical scholar, and author of What Matters Most: Ten Passionate Lessons on the Song of Solomon

The Authors

  1. Gail Song Bantum
    Brandon Hill

    Gail Song Bantum

    Gail Song Bantum is lead pastor at Quest Church and has created four mentoring groups nationally for women of color leaders. A nationally known speaker on topics of justice, leadership, and mentoring, she has spoken at Why Christian?, Evolving Faith, Christian...

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  2. Brian Bantum
    Brandon Hill

    Brian Bantum

    Brian Bantum (PhD, Duke University) writes and speaks on the intersections of identity, race, and gender. He is the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a contributing editor for the...

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"It is with immense gratitude that I recommend this book to married folk, newly, seasoned, and soon-to-be, alike. As a husband myself, I can say with confidence that it is of particular importance for men--men who continually need to be probed by the question: Is it a man's world? I'm taking this to heart in the liturgy of my own marriage, praying that I may be graced to participate and feel more and more the 'invisible work' as performed by my wife."

Joshua E. Livingston,

Englewood Review of Books