Marriage is important to God. His Word (the Bible) begins with a marriage (Genesis 2:18-25) and ends with a marriage (Revelation 19:7-9). And in the middle of these bookends, the Bible is filled with practical and theological significance and instructions concerning marriage. But we, as sinful humans, have made a mess of marriage. Marriage vows are violated flippantly. The sanctity of marriage is rejected as cohabitation and fornication become more rampant. Divorce and remarriage have become the norm in most American homes. And the very definition of marriage is under attack in our culture today. With all of this going on, it is imperative that we ask the question: “What does the Bible say about marriage, divorce, and remarriage?”
A New Book
In order to help us answer this question, Jim Newheiser has written an excellent new book titled Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage. Not only is Newheiser the director of the Christian Counseling program and associate professor of practical theology at RTS in Charlotte, but he has also been married himself for over thirty-seven years and has had the privilege of teaching about marriage and counseling married couples for more than thirty years. Because of his heart for married couples living according to God’s inerrant and sufficient Word, Newheiser has written this new book to help all Christians better understand what God’s Word says about these very important topics.
“I am aware of no resource on marriage that is as comprehensive and yet as accessible as this book” — Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC
The book itself is a series of 40 questions, divided into two major parts, with each of those parts divided into subcategories.
The first part of the book deals with the topic of marriage. In this part there are subcategories for “The Foundation of Marriage,” “Entering into Marriage,” Having a Successful Marriage,” and “Challenges in Marriage.” By and large, this first half of the book will not be controversial among Bible-believing, Evangelical Christians. Though it’s not controversial, this first half of the book is incredibly helpful. There are foundational questions answered, such as “What is Marriage?” and “Why did God create the institution of marriage?” Then there are intriguing questions, such as “Is polygamy forbidden in Scripture?” And finally practical questions like, “What is the key to keeping a marriage strong?” and “How can a couple resolve their conflicts?”
The second part of the book is where most readers will be drawn, as these are the controversial and debated questions that have huge practical significance for our lives and ministries. In this part, there are 3 subcategories: “The foundations of divorce and remarriage,” “Divorce and remarriage controversies,” and “Practical questions.” Newheiser interacts extensively with the two primary passages in Matthew and 1 Corinthians related to the debate, as well as many other passages that speak to the subject. He answers questions such as, “Are divorced people still married in God’s eyes?” and “What constitutes abandonment by an unbelieving spouse?”
Newheiser holds to a “non-permanence view” in relation to divorce and remarriage. That is, he does not hold to the permanence view of a John Piper who sees no biblical grounds for divorce whatsoever. Rather, Newheiser interprets the key passages as giving two biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage — adultery and abandonment. Whether you agree with him or not on this, or on the finer points of practical and wisdom issues, you will find that Newheiser truly does believe in the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of God’s Word and seeks to answer all of the relevant questions with the Bible front and center.
“I wish I had a copy before I started out in ministry in the local church. I would have been better equipped to help and better prepared for the kinds of issues I would encounter” — Ligon Duncan, Chancellor of RTS
Whether you use this book as a reference tool to answer questions as they arise, or read it straight through, or even use it as a counselor having counselees read specific chapters as needed, this book is incredibly helpful and will be a great addition to any library. The chapters are short, accessible, and easy to read. But most importantly, they are robustly biblical. And for that I am most thankful. Whether you are single, married, divorced, or remarried, I would strongly encourage you to get a copy of this book. You won’t be disappointed.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank P&R Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.