The first part of this book deals with the biblical foundation for the permanence view. The second part of the book looks at various real life situations and how the permanence view works itself out in the church and family life.
I came to this book holding what is probably the most popular view among conservative evangelicals and that is that there are two exceptions that allow for divorce. Along with this it is commonly held that remarriage is allowed if a divorce was within the bounds of the two exceptions. While I have held this view and was greatly influenced by a number of well-known evangelical writers I have had concerns with how to reconcile this with various scriptures. Such issues I struggled with were that God says He hates divorce (Mal 2:16) as well as that even in the passage that mentions the exception clause (Matt 19) Jesus seemed to be saying that divorce was unacceptable and not allowed.
Well this book deals with the exception clause in a manner that made great sense. Mainly that we have for too long taken the minimal amount of speaking on an exception and used it to define the greater evidence for no exception. We should instead seek to define Jesus comments on an expectation for “divorce” by His claims, even in the same chapter, to marriage being for life and not to be separated. The authors’ explanation of how the exception is not dealing with marriage but is dealing with betrothal makes great sense of the text and is most consistent with the rest of scripture.
The book also does a very good job in part 2 of showing how this view on marriage is dealt with in a number of real life scenarios. The crux of the matter is that all too often divorce seems like the easy way but it is not what it appears to be. God knows best and that best is for marriage to be permanent.
I would encourage you to read this book. If you have a view contrary to its view it will challenge you. If you already hold to the “permanence view” I think this book may help you better frame your understanding of how to explain this view. For sure the second part of the book is useful to be able to have ideas of how to handle various situations.
I can truly say that this book has helped solidify what I had previously not been too sure of, thus my view before reading this book is not what it was. In our current day and age it is too easy to take a view of marriage, the exception and remarriage view, which unwittingly may even add to the divorce rate within the church. As a pastor I need to have this area figured out well before it is needed. Not necessarily just for dealing with divorce but more so with remarriage. Many that even hold the exception view will be firm that this is to only be a last resort but when it comes to remarriage we often become more lax.
So gain read this book and let scripture speak to the situation and do not let current cultural norms drive your understanding of the issue. The church today, by some statistics, has a divorce rate similar to the worlds and much of this stems from a church that in an effort to be culturally relevant has become subsumed by the culture. We need to let scripture dictate our views on marriage and I think the elders of CFKC have done a good job of this.
Added 6/10/10: In that I find it important to know, whenever possible, an author's presuppositions/hermeneutic I have recently found that Jim Elliff holds to New Covenant Theology. I thought it important to let others know of this and while the conclusions the book makes may be the same without his NCT presuppositions I will be taking another look at the text see if this is so.
Even though I presently hold to the “permanence view” spoken of in the book this is definitely an area I am not as assure of as others. Since I do not desire to put more restrictions on individuals than God does I plan on spending more time in this area of doctrine.
Since reading this book I have also listened to a sermon By Voddie Baucham on this subject that you can listen to or download here: The Permanence View of Marriage