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Marriage and Family in Biblical Perspective

Marriage and the Family: Biblical Essentials by Andreas Kostenberger with David W. Jones

Marriage and the Family: Biblical Essentials by Andreas Kostenberger with David W. Jones is a remarkably concise yet clear book on most pertinent issues surrounding the family today. This book, an abridgement of their larger book entitled God, Marriage, and Family focuses on the biblical material in discussion regarding issues of sex, family, reproduction, singleness, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage. What is unique about this book is its combination of excellent biblical exegesis, theological extrapolation and pastoral application in such a concise yet powerful way. Many readers will already know Andreas Kostenberger, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Gospel of John, but others will also recognize David W. Jones, a profound ethicist at Southeastern Baptist Seminary.

One of the remarkable things about this book is its simple and profound way of dealing with very big issues. In one section on Reproduction and Parenting, the authors write concerning the devil’s work to destroy marriages by saying, “Satan will seek to disrupt marriages by sowing seeds of marital conflict through the husband’s insensitivity to his wife” (100). With references from Colossians 3 and 1 Peter 3, the authors relay the devastating effect of this type of disrespect and action in the life of a marriage. I was taken aback by this not because its false but rather because it is so easy to cast aside insensitivity, rather than see how it leads to a whole host of problems. Yet, the authors remind us on the last page of the chapter that our enemy is Satan but God’s grace is more than sufficient for every challenge we face (101). What a warning and a gut check for the husband who sees insensitivity as not a big deal.

At the end of the discussion on homosexuality in the bible and surrounding cultural assumptions regarding the legitimacy of the practice, the authors write, “Homosexuality, then, is not the unpardonable sin, and forgiveness is available (1 Cor. 6:11). Yet forgiveness implies repentance, and repentance implies admission of wrong” (129). The authors do well to see homosexuality not as a taboo sin that cannot be reversed. They also see that the way of turning around your life is the same with every sin, which involves forgiveness, repentance and restoration. This chapter is careful to distinguish common arguments about homosexuality, including Sodom and Gomorrah while retaining the faithful biblical witness against the practice. What I thought was missing from the discussion is a bit about the sad state of action that Christians have done in trying to win homosexuals for Christ. How do we temper love with truth, mercy with righteousness? The authors point out resources that are helpful but don’t offer any advice for those in ministry with homosexuals.

This book is a rare gem for those wanting a biblical basis for issues concerning marriage and the family. Secondly, the authors do not make the mistake of making giant assertions on issues that the bible isn’t absolutely clear on (see p. 113 on the issue of dating). I think this book will go a long way in providing believers with a go to resource for these thorny and difficult issues.

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy of this book.


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