Koestenberger, Andreas. God, Marriage, and Family. 2nd edition Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009.399. $22.99
The main point of this book is that the marriage crisis is at bottom a spiritual crisis that threatens our very civilization: “We firmly believe that the only solution is a return to, and a rebuilding of, the biblical foundations of these institutions. . . . The only way forward is to return to Scripture and to put God back at the center of marriage and the family—hence the title of our book, God, Marriage, and Family” (pp.19–20). This book is a thorough, exegetical, biblical, and theological look at the family. In this book we are going to learn several principles that are going to be counter-cultural and help give us a framework on how to understand and equipping us with apologetics to be able to discuss these topics.
The first principle of this book is that God has something to say about marriage and family. “For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ ” (p. 25). This encourages us to see that we should avoid trends and worldly thinking about marriage and look to see how we can glorify God with our marriages.
Second principal of this book is that it is showing us how to think God’s way. This book honestly discusses the Bible’s teachings on marriage and relationships, divorce, parenting, being single, homosexuality, birth control, abortion and church leadership. Throughout the book, a complementarian understanding of the relationship between men and women is affirmed, and the man and the woman, both created in the image of God, are assigned different responsibilities and roles.
Another principal of the book is that marriages and families are under attack and that we need to be intentional about growing a Biblical foundation because the world and Satan are trying to destroy marriages. The recovery of a biblical understanding of marriage and family is itself a witness to the gospel and to the grace and mercy of God in giving humanity these good gifts for his good pleasure.
Surprisingly with the size of this book, you would think that there would have been something that did not set right with me. However, there was not anything that I was totally disagreeing with in this book or have any questions about. The book was very straightforward and clear. The book was so exegetical of scripture, to argue against it would be arguing against God’s word in many cases.
A weakness of this book is that it is not a quick read and one could argue that with such an important topic it should not be a quick read. This book reads more like a volume of systematic theology; however this is intentional because the author mentions having no intentions to adding to stack of books in the self-help section of your local Christian bookstore. In fact, that is another strength of this book, most marriage books in the bookstore are just worldly wisdom and psychology baptized with a little scripture and some religious jargon. This book, however, is a Biblical theology of the family that also handles and emphasizes the cultural problems families face. It argues that one must first have an accurate conceptual foundation of marriage before moving on to more surface issues.
This book will most likely not be picked up by your average reader, due to the fact of its size and lack of truly practical steps to take. But instead this will be a reference book for pastors and counselors. However, do not let the thickness of this text fool you, just under half of it is supplementary: an exhaustive bibliography, a study guide and some serious endnotes make it look longer than it is. This leads us to the strength of the book, it is comprehensive and gives great attention to scripture.
This book is a great resource for a pastor that is looking for further studies into a specific area of marriage and family. I will turn back to the book constantly during my life in ministry. My favorite chapter was chapter eight, Requiring the Wisdom of Solomon: Special Issues Related to Family Part Two.
In this chapter, the author gives us 21 questions for a prospective wife or husband. I thought this was very insightful to sit down with your child and ask their potential spouse these questions. Not only are you displaying what should be important when choosing a spouse, you could be uncovering potential problems in the future for their marriage.
The next lesson that I learned from that chapter was marks of manhood on page 154. Here we get insight on what a Biblical Man of God should look like. I believe that this is especially important in today’s culture. Also, the insight that we gain on spiritual warfare on pages 160-63 was great for me to learn for my own life.
This book is a great resource and provides many lists and charts to help with understanding. I specifically appreciate the outline of Proverbs 31 on page 40. I believe that this is very insightful on what we should be looking for in a Godly wife. I also appreciated the outline of Proverbs on training up a child on page 95.