Of all of the counseling cases that a minister will have to deal with, none is as complicated as divorce. Although the Bible gives guidelines on the subject, often times people have a hard time discerning how to apply the Biblical principles/rules/regulations on divorce. I came into Jim Newheiser’s Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage assuming that this book will be a topic that is mainly on divorce, but it wasn’t until I began reading did I realize that it truly covers the entire spectrum of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
Jim Newhesier tries to answer every possible question there is in regards to relationships. This book is written with a question format, meaning every chapter is self contained and is a helpful resource in being equipped to answer any particular question. I appreciate that this book strives to argue everything from a Biblical worldview. Even the things that our culture deems as normative, Jim does a faithful job in admitting that they are simply cultural to the American context and not biblical (sections pertaining to dating and engagement comes to mind).
“The deeper your knowledge and experience of God’s love for you in Christ, the more you will be motivated and empowered to show merciful, gracious, and sacrificial love to your spouse”
The book is organized in two sections. The first section focuses on the fundamentals of marriage. Everything from where did the idea of marriage come from, to how a person gets married, then how to maintain a healthy/godly marriage. The second half of this book dives into the issue of divorce and remarriage. Sadly, this format is a reflection of how most marriages are: thinking about marriage, marriage, failure, divorce, and then remarriage.
What I also found to be useful from this book is that it tries to argue the two perspectives of remarriage (permanence vs. erasmian view). The permanence view is the view that a person who is divorced cannot be remarried to another person even if they are the innocent party (ex. did not cheat on their spouse), while the erasmian view holds that the innocent party can freely remarry someone else. I believe Jim handled both perspective fairly in terms of giving the reader biblical perspective of both and even name dropping some famous preachers that hold to each view. In the end, it seems that each situation needs to be considered amongst church leaders to decide which view they decide to hold and practice.
This was a highly educational book for me. Partially because I am recently married and want to know how to keep my marriage faithfully before the Lord, and also being better trained in thinking through the subject with more clarity. This book is highly practical and biblical. This book is pretty easy to read and can be a great resource of anyone that is hurting or anyone that wants to have a clearer view on each of the subject listed.
Some of the lines that stood out to me:
“Sex with anyone other than a marriage partner is a distortion of God’s design and is essentially a lie. The cohabiting couple seeks to enjoy the privileges and benefits of marriage, while refusing to make the commitment that God requires as a prerequisite for enjoying these blessings. Their physical relationship declares a level of commitment and oneness that doesn’t truly exist.” (42)
“Those who badly want to marry often marry badly” (51)
“People look for a spouse in our culture predominantly by dating. This relatively recent historical phenomenon is defined as “a part of [the] human mating process whereby two people meet socially for companionship, beyond the level of friendship, or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship of marriage.” While dating seems very normal to us, arranged marriages have actually been the norm in most cultures throughout history” (59)
“The deeper your knowledge and experience of God’s love for you in Christ, the more you will be motivated and empowered to show merciful, gracious, and sacrificial love to your spouse” (79)
“We often tell quarrelsome couples that they need to continually recall that their relationship is almost always more important than whatever they are arguing about.” (123)
“Solid joys and lasting pleasures can only be found in the Lord” (146)
“Our beliefs about the grounds for divorce and remarriage must be based on careful study of God’s infallible and all-sufficent Word. We must be prepared to read what will challenge our present actions and feelings, and we must submit our will to that of the Lord and trust that His ways are the best” (227-228)
“Abusive actions and words typically come from fleshly hearts that are ruled by angry desires” (259)