Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Much More than the Typical Book About Marriage and Family

About two years ago, a friend of my husband's asked if I had ever read God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger.  At the time, I hadn't.  I looked it up and it sounded interesting.  When a revised edition was published this summer, I was excited to read and review it. 

Mark Driscoll recommended this book some time ago in a sermon series that he did at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  I can understand why.  It seems as if our convictions about marriage and family as believers are attacked every day--whether through television, or what we experience at work or school, or by what we overhear at the grocery store.  We have to be prepared to defend them.  We need to know what we believe and why or else it will be easy for false teachers who twist the truth and the world we live in to convince us otherwise.

That is where this book comes in.  From the first page of this book, it is very clear that it is different than other Christian books about marriage and family.  The premise, as the authors put it is to "seek to determine...what the bible teaches on the various components of human relationships in an integrative manner:  the nature of, and special issues related to, marriage and the family, childrearing, singleness, as well as homosexuality and divorce and remarriage." p. 19  All of these issues are important to every Christian.  We need to have a solid understanding about what the Bible says about these issues--and what it doesn't say.

There are several issues that I was particularly interested in.  The first was infertility and contraception.  I have been concerned because as Dr. Paul Mc Hugh said in "The Mind has Mountains" that just because we can do something (medically) doesn't mean we should.  That statement has come to my mind many times over the past few years as I've considered whether or not something is ethically right for a Christian to consider pursuing.  I cannot do the book's discussion of either of these issues justice in a few sentences, so if these are two issues that you have pondered I would encourage you to read this book.

The next set of issues that I've seen become issues in the church today are singleness, homosexuality, divorce, and complimentary view of marriage (as opposed to submission).  This summer I had to explain to my girls that my parents are divorced and what that means.  It came up again when we read Matthew and we read that Joseph had it in his mind to divorce Mary quietly!  Divorce is the one area that I had wished the others had talked about more thoroughly, specifically in light of abuse.  It is mentioned, but I found myself still left with some questions after I read what the authors had written.  I did agree with what they said, but I had hoped for a more in-depth discussion of what abuse is.  In the book, only physical abuse was considered abuse worthy of marital separation.  Perhaps, the information I desire would be more of a chapter that examines the beliefs of Christian feminists.

The preface to the second edition explains the differences between the first and second editions.  Specifically, there's a new chapter on marriage, family and the church (family worship), discussions of current debates about homosexuality, singleness, divorce, and remarriage, and more discussion about teens.  Often I am faced with the question when I'm buying a book whether I should buy the new updated edition or a less expensive used copy of a book.  In the case of this book, I would definitely recommend the updated edition.

Truly our marriages and families are under attack.  If you haven't examined before what the Bible says about any of the issues I've mentioned above, I'd encourage you to read this book.  It is a great resource.  One quick warning though--it is more of a reference book and isn't a light hearted easy read.  But, I think it's a good book for any family to have on their bookshelf so that they can answer questions that come up--whether from friends or from your own children.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway Books for review.

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