Text: Genesis 2:18-25 — Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Introduction: We’re now in our eighth week in the preaching series called Hot Topics. If this is your first time visiting River Ridge church, so far we’ve talked about (1) our source of truth– The Bible; (2) Judging others– judge ourselves first and then speak the truth in love; (3) government– we’re to be good citizens who obey our leaders and pray for them; (4) the sanctity of life– only God and government (for a just cause) can take life – this rules out abortion and euthanasia; (5) racism– it’s sinful because we’re all made in the image of God and come from the same parents; (6) alcohol and legalized drugs– the latter are not to be abused but used under the careful watch of a qualified physician and we’re never to be drunk with win, but we’re commanded to be filled with of the Holy Spirit; (7) self-defense– we’re called to be peacemakers but sometimes we have to protect ourselves and others by using appropriate force to end a threat and accomplish the greater good. TODAY, I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN AND BIBLICAL MARRIAGE.
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in all fifty states. This issue was first raised by gay and lesbian Americans in the 1960s according to the Pew Research Center. As late as 1996, nearly seven out of ten Americans were against it. So, you might be wondering how it happened. What was behind this change in our country’s view of marriage? Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Theological Seminary, argues that it resulted from a moral revolution. A moral revolution changes everything in the culture and puts all formerly held values are up for grabs. Now, according to Mr. Mohler, in order for this to happen, three things need to take place.
Three signs of a moral revolution
· What was condemned must now be celebrated.How did we come to the place where we started celebrating alternatives to marriage? Some argue that traditional marriage has been under attack for the last century. With the advent of contraceptives(the Anglican Church was the first to approve the use of them—though prior to the 20thcentury they were condemned by all major branches of Christianity) the thought of having children began to take second place to the notion romantic love in marriage. This focus on romance created a subtle shift away from a biblical understanding thatmarriage sustains loveto a secular understanding that love sustains marriage.The inevitable result was no-fault divorce. First signed into law in 1969 by then governor of California, Ronald Reagan, it quickly spread and by 1985 every state except New York embraced it. The idea, of course, was that instead of having to prove that one party was at fault for the marriage breakdown, divorce could be pursued simply because the husband or wife wanted out. For the first time, people could dissolve a marriage because they wanted to be free to pursue someone else and restore the lost sense of romance to their lives. These two decisions, while not solely to blame, have contributed to a sense of disillusionment with traditional marriageand a search for viable alternatives which, though formerly condemned, include cohabitation and same sex marriage. WHAT WAS CONDEMNED IS NOW CELEBRATED.
· What was celebrated must now be condemned.In much of our society the great sin of our day is not in the choice of one of these alternatives, but in those that still hold to biblical marriage. As our post-modern culture elevates “tolerance” as its primary value, those who are considered to be “intolerant” are now condemned. In case you’re unaware, Christians who believe that that the Bible is God’s authoritative and special revelation and that it speaks to everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) fall into this latter category. What am I talking about? Consider these examples: (1)According to the Christian Post, the Supreme Courthas determined to exclude anyone who prays in Jesus name from a rotation of officials who open city business meetings; (2)US military Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmittwas removed over the issue of praying in Jesus Name; (3)A San Diego elementary schoolcreated an extra recess period to allow 100 Muslim students to pray, while a federal judge upheld a Knoxville, Ky. jury’sdecision that a public school could prohibit its 5th grade Christian students from studying and discussing their Bibles during recess. WHAT WAS CELEBRATED MUST NOW BE CONDEMNED AND THIS INCLUDES THE CONCEPT OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.
· Those who refuse to celebrate are now condemned.First it was the right to practice our faith in public venues that was being taken away, now Christians are being condemned.Because we, are the greatest threat to the moral revolution, steps are being taken to hinder the ability of believers in Christ to defend our moral viewpoints. According to Matt Staverof the Liberty Counsel, officials at the Department of Justicewere more than willing to settle a lawsuit with the Freedom fromReligion Foundationby offering the services of the IRS to target “rogue political churches.” They planned to uncover potential illegal political activities or “electioneering” by America’s conservative churches in the months leading up to the 2014 mid-term elections. While I agree that the laws of the land prohibit churches from endorsing candidates for public office, one has to wonder why only conservative, Bible-believing churches were targeted. These are unprecedented steps to attack our religious and individual freedom. Having admitted to targeting these conservative groups, the IRS has altered its strategy and is now monitoring churches, searching for any violation of federal laws! THOSE WHO REFUSE TO CELEBRATE ARE NOW CONDEMNED.
What does the Bible teach about marriage?
I. Marriage is from God. It was not man’s idea. God came up with it for purposes of His own choosing which we’ll look at in future messages. In today’s text there are four ways to see that marriage originated with God.
A. By recognizing that God conceived of the first marriage. He is the One who designed us as male and female. That’s what it says in Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. In case you’re wondering, Genesis chapter twois a more detailed explanation of His creation of the first man and woman. Here we see that God formed the man from the dust of the ground and then gave Him the breath of life, a place to call home(the Garden of Eden) and some important work to do(cultivating the ground and caring for garden). Though up to this point everything has been given a positive assessment by God, in verse eighteen, for the first time He declares that something is not good … it is not good for a man to be alone.Fortunately, God not only recognizes the problem but provides the solution …I will make a helper fit for him. God Himself intends to make a person perfectly suited for man, but only after parading the animals in front of the man so that he can see that there is no creature thus far created that fits the bill. Then the Lord causes a deep sleep to come over the man, and while he rests, God removes one of his ribs and from it fashions a woman. Then He says in verse twenty-fivethat these two will become one flesh… and the first marriage begins to take form.
B. By recognizing that God participated in the first marriage. It’s pretty awesome to consider that God not only conceived of the idea of marriage, but was the very first father to give away the bride in marriage. Genesis 2:22tells us, “… the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man (ish) He made into a woman (isha) and brought her to the man.“ He didn’t require Adam to find a bride, but brought the woman to him. John Piper, in his book This Momentary Marriage, says of that moment: “In a profound sense, He(God) had fathered her. And now though she was His by virtue of creation, He gave her to the man in this absolutely new kind of relationship called marriage…” Illustration: One of the best moments for me in any wedding that I’m privileged to perform is the time when the father walks his daughter down the aisle and prepares to hand his precious treasure off to her soon to be husband. I look at the bride who is always lovely, but I also pay some attention to her father and the groom. The latter is wide-eyed as he watches the love of his life approach. The father wears a different expression because he knows just how special his daughter is and how blessed this young man is to receiver her as his wife. That’s the picture that Moses paints for us here in Genesis two as God gives away His daughter to Adam. It is a very special moment.
C. By recognizing that God designed the first marriage. This union was to become the pattern for all future marriages. And note that it doesn’t merely involve any two persons, as if a man and a manor a woman and a womanwould suffice, but it requires a man, a woman, and the Lordas well to have a biblical marriage. Jesus affirmed this pattern in Mark 10:6-8saying, “… at the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one.” Application: As part of my pre-marital counseling I regularly remind the couples that for a marriage to work the way God designed it, each person must be growing in their relationship with Him. Statistics seem to bear this out by the way. Though about half of all marriages end in divorce, only 3% do when a couple worships together regularly, and only .3% do when that same couple prays together regularly (These statistics are quoted from For Better and For Ever by Robert A. Ruhnke, C.S.R., D. Min).
D. By recognizing that God performed the first marriage. Verse twenty-fourof chapter twoinforms us that the two shall become one flesh. Who is it that makes this kind of oneness possible? It is God. That’s what Jesus believed. He said, “What God has joined togetherlet no man put asunder(Mark 10:9).” Man does not create oneness. God does and so it is not in man’s power to destroy it. Do you know that a wedding vow is not a promise that one person makes to another? When a couple speaks their vows, they are making promises to Godthat He expects them to keep– Ecclesiastes 5:4 – When you make a vow to God do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not keep it. God is the One who unites a man to his wife in a unique one flesh marriage and He is also the only One who has the authority to undo it. So, what have we said so far?Marriage is from Godand we recognize this because He conceived of it;He participated in itwhen He gave His daughter away; He designed itto be between a man, a woman and Himself; and He performed itby making two people into one.
II. Marriage is for God.It displays His glory by putting the Gospel message out there for the rest of the world to see. What do I mean by this?
A. Marriage displays God’s glory through sacrificial love. This is the way a healthy marriage is maintained. By learning to love each other the way God loves us! And how is that?The Bible says that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…God’s love is a self-sacrificing love most fully seen in the offering of Jesus in payment for our sin. God’s love endures all things and never fails. It is what all human beings crave and the only place to discover it is in God Himself. Love that lasts must come from God, who is both the source and essence of it (1 John 4:8, 16). If all of God’s activities are born in love, then as we walk with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit we are enabled to love others in the same way and give glory to God in the process.
B. It displays God’s glory through covenant keeping. The one flesh relationship points to something far deeper and more permanent than much of what we see today. The holy covenant of marriage is meant to stand against all the harshness and evil that this world can dish out. It enables us to deny our sinful and fleshly desiresand to resist the lies of the enemythat tempt us to run away because it is better to abandon a difficult marriage than to stay put. Are you aware that marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to the church?He is the bridegroom and we are His bride. John the Baptistdescribed it this way (John 3:28-30 – “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of Him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine and it is now complete.”John the Apostledid as well in Revelation 19:6-7when he wrote of this future reality in heaven: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. Christ redeemed the church(His bride) with his blood and formed a new covenant with her in an unbreakable marriage. That’s what He means when He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” This same kind of resolve is what we are to portray in our marriages – and when we do God is glorified.
Applications: So, what do we do about same sex marriage? Here’s some thoughts that might help you in your discussions with others.
First– Aim at redemption, not resentment. Lower your voice as you discuss this issue with others. Remember that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict men of guilt with regard to sin, righteousness and judgment, not yours. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will be loving and kind and gentle and patient as you engage in conversation.
Second– Do not suggest that same-sex couples are the only people who struggle with sexual sin. There are far more people, including many in the church, who view pornography, have affairs and practice a sexually permissive lifestyle. Remember, we live on a hurting planet corrupted by the principle of sin which touches all of us.
Third– Let the Bible speak for itself. God’s Word is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart– Hebrews 4:12. It exposes wrong behaviors far better than any of us ever could.
Fourth– If you’re invited to a same-sex wedding should you go or stay home? If you go will you be seen as endorsing same-sex marriage? On the other hand, if you don’t go, will you lose the relationship you have with the person who invited you? Focus on the Familysees this as an issue covered by the discussion on conscience in Romans 14where Paul says on matters of opinion, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind(verse 5).” You have to decide for yourself after much prayer and searching the Word for guidance. Once you make your decision say something like this: I appreciate your kind invitation. I want you to know that I care about you very much and sincerely want to continue my relationship with you in the future. At the same time, I have sincere, faith-based concerns about same-sex relationships. In wrestling with my sincere love for you and my concerns about same-sex relationships, I feel God is leading me to (attend or not attend)your wedding. Thank you for understanding.
Conclusion: Let me close with this exhortation: Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that Christ has come to rescue not only homosexual but also heterosexual people from soul-killing idolatry so that we might live forgiven, joyful, obedient, and triumphant lives as disciples of Jesus. The goal of our discussions must always be about redemption and abundant and eternal life.