God, Marriage, and Family, authored by Andreas J. Kostenberger with David W. Jones, establishes that the monogamous marriage is the only marital relationship established or even condoned by God. The book is a captivating read because it incorporates detailed material on so many subjects that are intricately woven into the topic of marriage and how to please God.
In chapters 1-6, the author walks through Old Testament history and into New Testament teaching and demonstrates God’s plan that the wife is to be submissive to her husband, which gives her security in marriage. He states further, “The marriage partners are free to love their spouse in a spirit that is completely self-giving and hence able to love and enjoy the other person without fear of rejection, abuse or domination” (page 43). The point is clearly made that both male and female are of equal standing before God, but they have different roles in the authority structure God has established for our benefit. Submission is ruled by the love for one another, which creates an absolute need for submission and authority to work as a single unit—in order to portray marriage as a symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Marriage is carefully laid out as a covenant relationship. The covenant model defines marriage as a sacred bond between a man and a woman, instituted by and publicly entered into before God, normally consummated by sexual intercourse (page 73). This view of marriage embraces the belief that a marriage is permanent, sacred, intimate, mutual, and exclusive.
Chapters 7 and 8 take on the issue of parenting in today’s culture where sexual identity, homosexuality, and even the sanctity of marriage are seriously questioned. With the artificial reproduction of human life upon us, many question the validity of God’s Word as it relates to children and marriage. Kostenberger dissects the broad scope of science as it challenges the supreme authority of God in creation and omniscience. With great clarity, he lays out God’s Word as the final and inerrant answer for issues of bearing and/or raising children. The author identifies Scripture that is clear and unambiguous that speaks to the issue of abortion as murder (page 119). The author uses church history, God’s Word, and the writings of well-known authors to reinforce the history of why believers assume the position of being anti-abortion (page 120).
These two chapters are filled with thoughts, Scripture, and advice that will challenge the believer to reevaluate marital and parental relationships and make needed adjustments.
Under the heading, “To Have or Not to Have Children,” the author takes an in-depth scientific, biological look at biblically approved types of contraceptives and artificial reproduction technologies. He also draws upon the topic of adoption as a God-honoring alternate means of having children.
One of the most challenging items for marriage today is the task of raising children. The author moves headlong into critical matters such as single parenting and the impact on parenting within spiritual warfare between God and Satan, where the fight is for the minds of our children. Kostenberger then discusses cultivating masculinity and femininity as we train our children. Other topics of great importance on the author’s road of parenting hurdles include parental discipline, parenting teens, and the goal for parenting teens. I find that many parents come for counseling because they believe they are failing to reach their teens. Kostenberger provides some very practical tools and ideas on how to be successful in today’s parenting challenge.
Chapter 9 is devoted to singleness. The author uses both Scripture and information from other well-known authors to include messages for those dating, widows, widowers, divorced men and women, young women, and young men. Kostenberger also includes excellent ideas for the single parent.
Chapter 10 gives a very in-depth approach to the study of homosexuality. Kostenberger gives a historical review of homosexuality, which was prevalent even in biblical times. The author states, “The move toward the official acceptance of homosexuality in modern American society started in 1973, when the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the list of psychological diseases in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” The author was careful to point out that believers are to love people of homosexual bent (page 219). Believers do not have to condone the practice of homosexuality or any derivatives thereof, but do remember that Christ did die for all. Believers are instructed to share the gospel with the whole world. However, churches are not to compromise their stance on the belief that God’s Word does proclaim homosexuality to be a sin (page 216).
Chapter 11 moves into the arena of divorce. There is a lengthy discussion on what the Old Testament says as well as what Jesus and Paul said about divorce in the New Testament. Even Rabbinical positions are included. Kostenberger states that the “exception clause” includes divorce and remarriage for sexual sins, with the caveat that some believe that physical abuse is also cause for divorce. Abandonment may be another cause for a biblical divorce.
Chapter 12 speaks to the issue of faithfulness on the part of the husband. This covers the requirements of an elder/pastor in the local church and how divorce impacts church leadership. It also addresses the children of church leaders.
Chapters 13 and 14 focus on the local church’s effort to bring the worship of God, marriage, and the family together in a structure where the proper teaching of God’s Word will make worship, marriages, families, and the local church stronger in the Lord.
In the back of the book, Kostenberger includes a large section of notes related to the chapters in the book and another large section of “Further Resources.” These are both very helpful and they demonstrate the care and precision used by the author as the book was completed. God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas J. Kostenberger is a masterful work and an excellent resource for biblical counseling.