Kostenberger, Andreas J. God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation, Second Edition. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010. 400 pp. $22.99. Purchase at Westminster books for $15.40.
Andreas Kostenberger is professor of New Testament and director of PhD studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he has taught since 1996. This is a second edition of the book originally published in 2004. Much has changed in the landscape of the the church, world, and more importantly, the family since its first edition; hence, the second edition following in such short order.
The book begins with the call to rebuild the foundation of our society beginning with the family. To do this, Kostenberger first looks at marriage in the Old and New Testament. Once a couple is married, a family unit is formed (family being defined as at least a married couple). From here, we now look at the family in both the Old and New Testaments. In this “section,” we read about special issues related to the family including whether or not to have children.
A helpful chapter on the gift of being single as well as a chapter setting the record straight regarding what the Bible says about homosexuality (this chapter flies in the face of the world today!). Another chapter that may very well rub the reader the wrong way is his chapter on divorce and remarriage. The book concludes with three chapters looking at the husband’s role in church leadership and how we should learn to be the family of God in the context of our own family.
I greatly appreciated Kostenberger’s handling of the biblical texts especially in his chapter on divorce and remarriage. He covers a ton of ground in just this topic. He is very objective in his treatments of the current trend of family-integrated churches and homosexuality and marriage in general. He is objective insofar as he offers arguments for and against each issue. He is fair in that he allows both sides to present their argument without his own commentary. Fortunately, he does show what the Bible says about each issue as well (that is, if the Bible does speak specifically to the issue).
I do wish he would have come down a bit harder on the issue of divorce and remarriage. I also disagreed with his assessment that birth control is acceptable if morally permissible. His only concern was whether or not the birth control was an abortificient. I would have liked to see him deal with the heart issues of this particular conversation. Regardless, he does offer some food for thought even if it is pureed food.
Do not let the page count (400 pages) frighten you–there really is only 288 pages of text. The final 118 pages include end notes and recommendations of other resources for each chapter. This book is an easy read though it will challenge you. The fact that there already is a second edition shows that there is a great need for its content. God, Marriage, and Family offers an excellent introduction to the married life. I agree with Mark Driscoll that this book makes an excellent premarital counseling resource. If you have not read the first edition, do yourself a favor and pick up the second edition. Read it and be prepared to look at your own family a bit differently–through a biblical lens.