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God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation / Edition 2

God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation / Edition 2

by Andreas J. Kostenberger, David W. JonesAndreas J. Kostenberger
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This updated edition of Köstenberger and Jones's landmark work tackles the latest debates and cultural challenges to God's plan for marriage and the family and urges a return to a biblical foundation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433503641
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Andreas J. Köstenberger (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the director of the Center for Biblical Studies and research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a prolific author, distinguished evangelical scholar, and editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is the founder of Biblical Foundations, a ministry devoted to restoring the biblical foundations of the home and the church. Köstenberger and his wife have four children.

David W. Jones serves as professor of Christian ethics, director of the ThM program, and associate dean for graduate program administration at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jones is also the author of more than a dozen articles that have appeared in various academic publications and a frequent speaker at churches, ministries, and Christian conferences. He currently resides near Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife and five children.

Read an Excerpt



Rebuilding the Foundation

For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms marriage and family. What until now has been considered a "normal" family, made up of a father, a mother, and a number of children, has in recent years increasingly begun to be viewed as one among several options, which can no longer claim to be the only or even superior form of ordering human relationships. The Judeo-Christian view of marriage and the family with its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures has to a significant extent been replaced with a set of values that prizes human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual or societal level. It can rightly be said that marriage and the family are institutions under siege in our world today, and that with marriage and the family, our very civilization is in crisis.

The current cultural crisis, however, is merely symptomatic of a deep-seated spiritual crisis that continues to gnaw at the foundations of our once-shared societal values. If God the creator in fact, as the Bible teaches, instituted marriage and the family, and if there is an evil being called Satan who wages war against God's creative purposes in this world, it should come as no surprise that the divine foundation of these institutions has come under massive attack in recent years. Ultimately, we human beings, whether we realize it or not, are involved in a cosmic spiritual conflict that pits God against Satan, with marriage and the family serving as a key arena in which spiritual and cultural battles are fought. If, then, the cultural crisis is symptomatic of an underlying spiritual crisis, the solution likewise must be spiritual, not merely cultural.

In God, Marriage, and Family, we hope to point the way to this spiritual solution: a return to, and rebuilding of, the biblical foundation of marriage and the family. God's Word is not dependent on man's approval, and the Scriptures are not silent regarding the vital issues facing men and women and families today. In each of the important areas related to marriage and the family, the Bible offers satisfying instructions and wholesome remedies to the maladies afflicting our culture. The Scriptures record the divine institution of marriage and present a Christian theology of marriage and parenting. They offer insight for decision making regarding abortion, contraception, infertility, and adoption. They offer helpful guidance for those who are single or unmarried and address the major threats to marriage and the family: homosexuality and divorce.


Measured against the biblical teaching on marriage and the family, it seems undeniable that Western culture is decaying. In fact, the past few decades have witnessed nothing less than a major paradigm shift with regard to marriage and the family. The West's Judeo-Christian heritage and foundation have largely been supplanted by a libertarian ideology that elevates human freedom and self-determination as the supreme principles for human relationships. In their confusion, many hail the decline of the biblical-traditional model of marriage and the family and its replacement by new competing moralities as major progress. Yet the following list of adverse effects of unbiblical views of marriage and the family upon society demonstrates that replacing the biblical-traditional model of marriage and the family with more "progressive" ones is detrimental even for those who do not view the Bible as authoritative.

One of the negative consequences of the erosion of the biblical-traditional model are skyrocketing divorce rates. However, the costs of divorce are troubling, not only for the people involved — especially children — but also for society at large. While children may not show ill effects of the trauma of divorce in the short run, serious negative long-term consequences have been well documented. Sex outside of marriage, because it does not occur within the secure environment of an exclusive lifetime commitment, also exerts a heavy price from those who engage in adulterous or otherwise illicit sexual relationships. Teenage pregnancies and abortion are the most glaring examples. While pleasurable in the short run, sex outside of marriage takes a heavy toll both psychologically and spiritually and contributes to the overall insecurity and stress causing the destabilization of our cultural foundation. Homosexuality deprives children in households run by same-sex partners of primary role models of both sexes and is unable to fulfill the procreative purposes God intended for the marriage union. Gender-role confusion, too, is an increasingly serious issue; many men and women have lost the concept of what it means to be masculine or feminine. This results in a loss of the complete identity of being human as God created us, male and female. Our sex does not merely determine the form of our sex organs but is an integral part of our entire being.

These few examples illustrate the disturbing fact that the price exacted by the world as a result of its abandonment of the biblical foundations for marriage and the family is severe indeed. An integrative, biblical treatment of marriage and the family is essential to clear up moral confusion and to firm up convictions that, if acted upon, have the potential of returning the church and culture back to God's intentions for marriages and families.


It is not only the world that is suffering the consequences of neglecting the Creator's purposes for marriage and the family. The church, too, having lowered itself to the standard of the world in many ways, has become a part of the problem and is not offering the solutions the world needs — not that Christians are unaware of their need to be educated about God's plan for marriage and the family. An abundance of resources and activities is available. There are specialized ministries and parachurch organizations. There are marriage seminars and retreats. There are books on marriage and the family, as well as magazines, video productions, Bible studies, and official statements focusing on marriage and the family. Yet for all the church is doing in this area, the fact remains that in the end there is shockingly little difference between the world and the church. Why is this the case? We believe the reason why all the above-mentioned efforts to build strong Christian marriages and families are ineffective to such a significant extent is found, at least in part, in the lack of commitment to seriously engage the Bible as a whole. The result is that much of the available Christian literature on the subject is seriously imbalanced.

Anyone stepping into a Christian or general bookstore will soon discover that while there is a plethora of books available on individual topics, such as marriage, singleness, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality, there is very little material that explores on a deeper, more thoroughgoing level the entire fabric of God's purposes for human relationships. Though there is a place for books focused narrowly on one given topic to address certain specific needs, it is only when we see how the Bible's teaching on human relationships coheres and finds its common source in the Creator and his wise and beneficial purposes for men and women that we will have the insight and the strength to rise above our natural limitations and to embrace God's plan for human relationships in their fullness and completeness.

When a couple struggles in their marriage, they often find it helpful to focus on the more superficial remedies, such as improving their communication skills, enriching their sex life, learning better how to meet each other's needs, or similar techniques. Yet often the true cause for marital problems lies deeper. What does it mean for a man to leave his father and mother and to cleave to his wife? What does it mean for a husband and a wife to become "one flesh"? How can they be naked and not ashamed? How can it be that, once married, husband and wife are "no longer two, but one," as Jesus taught, because it is God who joined them together? How does sin twist and distort the roles of husband and wife, parent and child? Only if we are seeking to answer some of these deeper, underlying questions will we be adequately equipped to deal with specific challenges we face in our relationships with one another.

Yet the fact remains that many, if not most, of the plethora of popular books written on marriage and the family are theologically weak and not fully adequate in their application of sound principles of biblical interpretation. Many of these authors have PhDs in counseling or psychology but their formal training in the study of Scripture is lacking. Theological and hermeneutical naïveté gives birth to superficial diagnoses, which in turn issue in superficial remedies. It seems that the dynamics and effects of sin are poorly understood in our day. The result is that many Christian self-help books owe more to secular culture than a thoroughgoing Christian worldview. Christian, biblical counselors who take Scripture seriously and believe that diagnoses and remedies must be based on a theologically and hermeneutically accurate understanding of the biblical teaching on marriage and the family find this unhelpful if not positively misleading.

For this reason there remains a need for a volume that does not treat issues related to marriage and the family in isolation from one another but that shows how human fulfillment in these relationships is rooted in the divine revelation found exclusively and sufficiently in Scripture.


The authors of the present volume believe that a biblical and integrative approach most adequately represents the Bible's teaching on marriage and the family. Within the limited scope of this work, we will attempt to sketch out the contours of a "biblical theology of marriage and the family," that is, a presentation of what the Bible itself has to say on these vital topics. While we certainly do not claim to have the final word on every issue or to be infallible interpreters of the sacred Word, what we are after is decidedly not what we think marriage or family should be, based on our own preconceived notions, preferences, or traditional values, but what we believe Scripture itself tells us about these institutions. This, of course, requires a humble, submissive stance toward Scripture rather than one that asserts one's own independence from the will of the Creator and insists on inventing one's own rules of conduct.

In such a spirit, and placing ourselves consciously under, rather than above, Scripture, we will seek to determine in the following chapters 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. Because the Bible is the Word of God, which is powerful and life-transforming, we know that those who are willing to be seriously engaged by Scripture will increasingly come to know and understand God's will for marriage and the family and be able to appropriate God's power in building strong Christian homes and families. This, in turn, will both increase God's honor and reputation in this world that he has made and provide the seasoning and illumination our world needs at this time of cultural ferment and crisis with regard to marriage and the family.



Marriage in the Old Testament

What is God's plan for marriage? As we have seen in the previous chapter, there is considerable confusion on this point in contemporary culture. To address the prevailing cultural crisis and to strengthen Christian convictions on this issue, we must endeavor to rebuild the biblical foundations of this most intimate of human relationships. The treatment on marriage in the Old Testament in the present chapter will proceed along chronological, salvation-historical lines. Our study of the theme of marriage and of the Old Testament teaching on marriage takes its point of departure from the foundational narrative in Genesis 1-3, which roots the institution of marriage firmly in the will of the Creator and describes the consequences of the fall of humanity on the married couple. This is followed by a survey of Israel's subsequent history with regard to the roles of husbands and wives toward each other and traces several ways in which God's creation ideal for marriage was compromised. The last corpus under consideration is the Old Testament wisdom literature, which upholds the divine ideal for marriage in the portrait of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31 and envisions the restoration of the original husband-and-wife relationship in the Song of Solomon.

As we set out to explore the biblical teaching on marriage, it is important to remember that while this is an important topic in Scripture, it is not the primary focus of divine revelation. Both Testaments center primarily on tracing the provision of salvation by God in and through Jesus Christ: in the Old Testament prospectively by way of promises and anticipatory patterns pointing to the coming of the Messiah, in the New Testament retrospectively by way of fulfillment and realization of God's provision of salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. To this end, the Old Testament follows God's promises to Abraham, the giving of the law through Moses, and the Davidic line.

Yet as the history of Israel unfolds, we see various examples of godly and ungodly marriages as well as Mosaic legislation concerning various aspects of and aberrations from God's pattern for human relationships. While it is therefore salvation history, not marriage, that is the primary focus of divine revelation, the Scriptures were nonetheless "written down for our instruction" (1 Cor. 10:11; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16) and therefore provide fruitful material for study.


In exploring the biblical teaching on marriage, there is no more important paradigm than God's intended pattern for marriage presented in Genesis 1-3. Although the book of Genesis was originally addressed to Israel's wilderness generation in preparation for entering the Promised Land, the early chapters of this book provide the parameters of the Creator's design for marriage in every age. This is reflected in Jesus' and Paul's teaching and applies to our own age as well. Who was this God who had saved Israel from slavery in Egypt and had given the nation the law at Sinai? What are the foundational teachings on the family, societal structures, and sin?

The answers to these questions, initially from the vantage point of ancient Israel, but ultimately for every person who ever lived. In Genesis 1-3, the God whom Israel had come to know as Redeemer and Lawgiver is revealed as the Creator of the universe, the all-powerful, all-wise, and eternal God who spoke everything there is into being. Marriage is shown to be rooted in God's creative act of making humanity in his image as male and female. Sin is depicted as the result of humanity's rebellion against the Creator at the instigation of Satan, himself a fallen creature, and as becoming so much a part of the human nature that people ever since the fall are by nature rebelling against their Creator and his plan for their lives.

The depiction of the original creation of man and woman and the subsequent fall of humanity in Genesis 1-3 centers on at least three very important clusters of principles, which will be explored in the following discussion. There are: (1) the man and the woman are created in God's image to rule the earth for God; (2) the man is created first and is given ultimate responsibility for the marriage relationship, while the woman is placed alongside the man as his "suitable helper"; and (3) the fall of humanity entails negative consequences for both the man and the woman. We will treat each of these topics in turn.

Created in God's Image to Rule the Earth for God

The fact that both men and women are created in the likeness and image of their Creator invests them with inestimable worth, dignity, and significance. Popular notions of what it means to be created in God's image have often been unduly influenced by Greek concepts of personality. Thus, God's image in the man and the woman has frequently been identified in terms of their possession of intelligence, a will, or emotions. While this may be presupposed or implied to some extent in Genesis 1:27, the immediate context develops the notion of the divine image in the man and the woman in terms of representative rule (cf. Ps. 8:6-8).


Excerpted from "God, Marriage, and Family"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Andreas J. Köstenberger and David W. Jones.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Charts 10

Foreword to the First Edition 11

Preface to the Second Edition 13

1 The Current Cultural Crisis: Rebuilding the Foundation 15

2 Leaving and Cleaving: Marriage in the Old Testament 21

3 No Longer Two, but One: Marriage in the New Testament 51

4 The Nature of Marriage and the Role of Sex in Marriage: God's Purpose for Making Man Male and Female 69

5 The Ties That Bind: Family in the Old Testament 85

6 The Christian Family: Family in the New Testament 99

7 To Have or Not to Have Children: Special Issues Related to the Family, Part 1 117

8 Requiring the Wisdom of Solomon: Special Issues Related to the Family, Part 2 139

9 Undivided Devotion to the Lord: The Divine Gift of Singleness 167

10 Abandoning Natural Relations: The Biblical Verdict on Homosexuality 199

11 Separating What God Has Joined Together: Divorce and Remarriage 223

12 Faithful Husbands: Qualifications for Church Leadership 239

13 God, Marriage, Family, and the Church: Learning to Be the Family of God 249

14 Uniting All Things in Him: Concluding Synthesis 269

Appendix: The "Exception Clause" and the Pauline Privilege 275

For Further Study: Helpful Resources 289

Notes 312

General Index 378

Scripture Index 383

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“In breadth of coverage, thoroughness of learning, clarity of analysis and argument and, I think, soundness of judgment, this solid, lucid, pastorally angled treatise has no peer. Evangelicals who research, debate, teach, and counsel on gender, sex, marriage, and family will find it an endlessly useful resource. The easy mastery with which the author threads his way through forty years’ special pleadings gives this compendium landmark significance, and I recommend it highly.”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College

“The special value of this book lies in its pervasive exposition of Scripture. We are adrift in a sea of speculation without this. I am thankful for the book. I plan to give it to my grown children.”
John Piper, Founder,; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary

“Anything Andreas Köstenberger publishes is worthy of attention. His international education and experience, his teaching career, and his Christian character make him an author to be read with both care and anticipation. You may not agree with all his conclusions, but you’ll be better equipped for living and teaching about God, marriage, and Family. Sensible, balanced, and biblical, this is a sound and timely summary of the Bible’s teaching on some of the most basic and yet controversial topics in today’s world. I highly recommend it.”
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“If you are looking for just another collection of saccharine clichés about shiny happy Christian families, then you might want to leave this volume on the book-store shelf. In an era when too many Christians listen more intently to television therapists than to the Bible on the question of the family, this could be one of the most significant books you ever read.”
Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Onward

“The book is wide-ranging and reflects mature judgment in interpreting Scripture and applying it to life. The author does not avoid controversial issues, but in each case he treats the issues fairly with ample explanation of alternative views. This is an excellent book that deserves to be widely used.”
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

“This is a superb book—the work of a gifted exegete whose feet are firmly planted in this world. God, Marriage, and Family addresses the daunting issues facing today’s Christians regarding marriage, divorce, remarriage, sexuality, children, contraception, abortion, singleness, sex roles, and leadership with radical biblical fidelity and practicality. If you want the Bible on these questions, this is the book! What a gift to today’s church!”
R. Kent Hughes, Visiting Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

“This volume should be not only on the shelf of every pastor in this land, but also in the syllabus of every course on marriage and the family taught in Christian colleges and seminaries. The author’s careful defense of traditional biblical values relating to family life demands a serious reading, especially by those who do not agree with him.”
Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College

“Driven by a passion for Scripture and fueled by a sense of urgency borne out of the cultural wars that seek to hide and even destroy the biblical patterns, Köstenberger grapples with salient issues of interest to those who see the family as God’s basic unit in his revelation of himself.”
Paige and Dorothy Kelley Patterson, President and Professor of Theology in Women's Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The Christian looking for a brief, understandable, straightforward, intelligent, faithful presentation of what the Bible says about marriage, family, divorce, remarriage, homosexuality, abortion, birth control, infertility, adoption, and singleness need look no further.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“While many popular treatments of marriage and the family are available, very few have explored with care and precision Scripture’s own teaching on these crucial subjects. Köstenberger does not avoid the hard contemporary issues of gender and sexuality but addresses them with sensitivity combined with keen biblical insight.”
Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“With the current attack on marriage and family now raging at a fevered pitch, Köstenberger’s book is a vital resource that should be in the hands of every evangelical.”
Tom Elliff, Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma

“This volume is a treasure trove of biblical wisdom on matters pertaining to marriage, child-rearing, singleness, and sexuality. As Western society struggles to hold on to its social identity, this study reaffirms God’s will for self-understanding and family ties. Readers seeking the whole counsel of God on these matters will find enormous assistance here.”
Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

“The book is especially valuable because it is remarkably clear and comprehensible, while at the same time reflecting deep and responsible research. I consistently found the conclusions to be sound and biblically faithful.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Characterized by exemplary exegetical analysis, Köstenberger’s book is a refreshing and welcome addition to the current debate on marriage and the family. This outstanding work will help academicians, pastors, counselors, and anyone who genuinely seeks to understand God’s design from a biblical perspective.”
Mary A. Kassian, Professor of Women's Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild

“There has never been a greater need for a comprehensive, well-researched, and thoroughly biblical examination of the interrelated topics of marriage, family, and sexuality. Although not all will agree with each conclusion, Köstenberger has done the church a great service by providing this readable and eminently useful volume.”
Gordon P. Hugenberger, Senior Minister, Park Street Church, Boston

“These days it is important for us to remember that God has something to say about marriage and family. With all of the competing voices insisting on new definitions and unbiblical patterns, Köstenberger has provided the Christian community with an invaluable resource. It will be perfect for the college or seminary classroom, for local church educational programs, and for families trying to conform their lives to the Word of God. I heartily recommend it.”
Randy Stinson, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“At a time when our society is attempting to redefine the standards and values of marriage and family, Köstenberger has brought us back to the biblical foundation. He tackles some very difficult and politically sensitive issues in this book.”
Bob Baker, Pastor of Pastoral Care, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California

“The unique contribution of God, Marriage, and Family is Köstenberger’s approach: he carefully traces God’s unfolding plan for marriage and family from creation through to the end. The true beauty of marriage and the family shines most brightly when one looks at these topics as they are developed throughout God’s entire story.”
Richard W. Hove, Campus Crusade for Christ, Duke University

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