Tom Gilson

“A Christian Vision of Marriage and Family”

Albert Mohler, on a new book by Andreas Kostenberger with David W. Jones:

As Kostenberger observes, “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 certain extent been replaced with a set of values that prizes human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual and societal level. It can rightly be said that marriage and the family are institutions under seize in our world today, and that with marriage and the family, our very civilization is in crisis.”

At the cultural level, Kostenberger suggests that the rise of a libertarian ideology explains the elevation of human freedom and a right to self-determination above all other principles and values. The quest for autonomy becomes the central purpose of human life, and any imposition of structure, accountability, boundaries, or restriction is dismissed as repressive and backward.

[Kostenberger] argues that marriage is rightly understood as a covenant, defined as “a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by and publicly entered into before God (whether or not this is acknowledged by the married couple), normally consummated by sexual intercourse.” Thus, marriage is not merely a bilateral contract, but is a sacred bond. Moving from marriage to the larger family context, Kostenberger suggests that a biblical definition of family points to the structure constituted by “primarily, one man and one woman united in matrimony (barring death of a spouse) plus (normally) natural or adopted children and, secondarily, any other persons related by blood.”

[Link: A Christian Vision of Marriage and Family]
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10 thoughts on ““A Christian Vision of Marriage and Family”

  1. Tom,

    I think it is hard (at least for me) to comment for two reasons:
    1) Very little information is given about the book such as the title. It makes it hard to know the context from which Mohler is drawing his quotes.
    2)This is a very touchy subject especially for those of us who’s churches will be tackling this very issue (I’m speaking specifically of the ELCA who is meeting in August for their Churchwide Assembly). Any comments I make might come from frustration due to my denominations fight over this very issue. I think it’s best if I step back from this discussion.

  2. What discussion? You quoted someone who restated someone else. You didn’t even offer your own opinion. However, I’ll offer more:

    “The Judeo-Christian view of marriage and the family with its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures has to a certain extent been replaced with a set of values that prizes human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual and societal level.” Hmm…seems to me that the Judeo-Christian view also prizes human rights and self-fulfillment. Not sure what the heck “pragmatic utility on an individual and societal level” is supposed to mean.

    “At the cultural level, Kostenberger suggests that the rise of a libertarian ideology explains the elevation of human freedom and a right to self-determination above all other principles and values. The quest for autonomy becomes the central purpose of human life, and any imposition of structure, accountability, boundaries, or restriction is dismissed as repressive and backward.” The “elevation of human freedom and a right to self-determination” is not the same as “the quest for autonomy.” Most adults understand that freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand and that accountability to others is essential to a good life.

  3. Marriage has been referred to as this particular man/woman thing for a long time. Want to change the definition of that thing? Fine, but don’t expect everyone to go along with your new definition – expect considerable resistance. As Greg Koukl says, shoving beans up your nose and calling that ‘eating’ doesn’t make it the case for the rest of us.

    This so-called ‘right to self-determination above all other principles and values’ is nothing more than a vise, narcissism.

  4. As with the concept of God, perhaps there is need for “reformation, transformation, or refinement” in the concept of marriage. I’m always a bit suspicious when someone talks about “the biblical definition” of something.

  5. I’m always a bit suspicious when someone talks about “the biblical definition” of something.

    Why? Do you think marriage is left undefined in the bible, or that the definition no longer applies?

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