Reviewed by John B. Youngberg, chairman, Department of Religious Education and Educational Foundations, Andrews University.

This book grew out of a pastor's Bible class at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, and became a cassette package with 140,000 copies sold.

Dr. Dobson has a profound respect for Scripture and does not try to get around or interpret it away. After dealing with the Old Testament, he surveys the teachings of Jesus. While the caviling Pharisees wanted to know the technical grounds for divorce, Jesus answered the real question: "How can I keep the marriage together?" Jesus was saying, "You are arguing over the causes of divorce, but you have missed God's original plan and will for marriage." The author interprets the Matthew 19 exceptive clause "except it be for fornication [porneia]," referring to illicit sex in general.

Dobson finds that there are two New Testament permissions for divorce: porneia and when an unbelieving spouse departs (1 Cor. 7:10-13). There is biblical permission to remarry if there are biblical grounds for the divorce. But divorce is not a right. "Even though God permitted divorce, God's ultimate plan and will is for people to stay together."

Those who divorce and remarry without biblical grounds can be reinstated to first class citizenship in the church after repentance, but not to leadership as elders or deacons. There is no such thing as an ongoing state of adultery.

Dobson shows sensitivity to human need and knowledgeability of the literature on divorce and the results on future marriages and children involved. Yet his primary authority source is biblical, not behavioral. The "how to's" make the book practical (e.g., "How can I maintain purity in an age of moral impurity?"). The author has not dodged any complex problem. His work is refreshingly simple, and some may feel his solutions are too simple. The chapters are well outlined and summarized.

Dobson sees himself in an intermediate position between the two extremes of (1) no divorce under any circumstances and (2) divorce for any reason. The counsel given has the ring of a pastor who has wrestled with these issues in real life situations with biblical redemptiveness.


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Reviewed by John B. Youngberg, chairman, Department of Religious Education and Educational Foundations, Andrews University.

April 1989

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