God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David W. Jones (Crossway, 2010) is, to date, the best book that I have read on God's design for marriage, the family and the various other issues it addresses. The biblical exegesis is solid and faithful to the biblical authors original intent in the covered the texts. The issues tackled in the book are very much alive and relevant to our modern culture. Kostenberger does a wonderful job of bringing God's meaning from the biblical world to bear on the modern day dilemmas we face while not being afraid to admit to certain issues that are not specifically addressed in the Bible. In the instances where a problem is not specifically touched upon in the Bible, the author shows the reader how to apply overarching biblical principles in order to reach a biblical worldview regarding the issue.
Throughout the book, Kostenberger's goal is to determine God's original intention and purpose for marriages and families. What makes the book a must have resource is the broad range of issues addressed. These include looking at marriage and the family in the Old and New Testaments along with God's purpose for making humans male and female. This latter chapter includes a discussion of the biblical role of sex in a couple's marriage which is often a taboo area in evangelical Christianity. Further, the book also addresses many special issues which tend to get overlooked until they arise in a marriage or family and create their own problems due to lack of biblical education. These issues include: to have or not have children including the use of birth control methods and artificial reproductive technologies; parental methods; single parenting; to use or not to use physical discipline; cultivating masculinity and femininity in children; parenting teens; and even spiritual warfare in the family (I was pleasantly surprised by this inclusion). An unexpected, but very relevant, chapter is also included on singleness. The book then turns to handle some of the more controversial issues at stake in our society: homosexuality; divorce and remarriage; and qualifications for church leadership. The revised second addition also includes the addition of a chapter on how the church and the family are to relate to one another specifically addressing the "family-integrated church approach." The appendix includes another chapter on the exception clause from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 19:9 and the Pauline Privilege in 1 Corinthians 7:15. If you are one of us who enjoy reading the footnotes and endnotes, this book will worth it to you just for these 89 pages at the back packed with many other sources to study.
The book is wonderful. I have officially made it the primary source in my pre-marriage and marriage counseling classes. I would recommend it to all marriage counselors and pastors. I also believe that it is an excellent resource for every couple to have on their bedside table even though a few of the areas might be considered semi-technical.
This book 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. 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. 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. 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 an older edition. In the case of this book, I would definitely recommend the updated edition.