April 28, 2013 “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman United 2Gether 4 Life.” Part One
Heb. 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Marriage is not being honored by all in our culture: divorce is very common, even in the church; Christian young people are living together without being married; many Christian marriages are struggling and loveless; and now, we are being told that we need to accept the idea of same-sex marriage or marriage rights equality. How do we respond, when marriage, the foundational unit of any society, is being destroyed, dishonored, and disregarded?
I believe that the best defense is a good offense; that is, we need to have a clear understanding and appreciation of marriage, as God designed it. For once you see what marriage really is, every other attempt to hijack marriage will be exposed as an imposter, a perversion of the real thing. It’s like when someone tries to steal your identity: you know who you really are, and the person seeking to pass himself off as you is clearly an imposter, who needs to be exposed.
Therefore today and Lord willing next Sunday, I want to give you a biblical vision of marriage.
Our starting point will be what Jesus taught about marriage in Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Look what Jesus says, when asked about divorce: He quotes Gen. 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
And then Jesus quotes Gen. 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
Then in Matt. 19:6 Jesus adds His inspired commentary to these two foundational truths: “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Note that Jesus’ commentary on the two passages in Genesis shows us that the sanctity of all marriages in the authority of God Himself. You see, the Biblical perspective never considers the husband and the wife alone, but always seems them under God’s authority, with God Himself present, so that the marriage is subject to His commands and is aided by His grace. God is Lord over all marriages, and therefore He alone can determine their design and purpose.
Jesus gives us two great truths in Matt. 19:4-6:
One, God created the human race as male and female: There are two and only two genders. There is no confusion, no questioning, no bisexuality, no transgendered people; there is only male and female. Now some may object here and raise questions about those who were born a certain way or those who really feel they are one sex on the inside but another sex on the outside, and so forth. I think we need to answer each person with love and wisdom, but ultimately we need to say this: God, in good and original design of creation, made us either male or female, and every other gender confusion or expression is a result of one or more facts: (1) we are all sinners, and our sins have distorted our sexual identities; (2) we have all been sinned against, and that has also distorted our sexual identities; and (3) we live in a sin-cursed world, which brings further confusion and distortion, but God sent His Son to redeem us from our sins and to heal us from the results of sin.
But remember… it was not messed up like this in the beginning, and it will not be messed up like this in the end when Jesus renews all things.
We’ll say more about why God made us distinctly male and female a bit later.
Two, God designed marriage to be the public, covenantal, loving, and one-flesh union of one man to one woman for life. Not two men, not two women, not one man and four women, not one woman and two men, only 1man + 1woman united 2gether 4 Life.
Or to be less concise but more precise, “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman, United by God in a Covenant, 2Gether in Love 4 Life as 1.”
Nothing could be clearer than Jesus’ teaching on two genders, and that those two genders, male and female, are the only ones who can come together in marriage.
Therefore, we shouldn’t have to add the word “traditional” to indicate the kind of marriage; we mean; we should just use the word marriage, because any other formula or definition is no longer a marriage.
Illustrations: If I told you that I saw a rainbow in the sky, what would you picture in your mind? A multicolored arch, right? But what if I said I saw a rainbow, but it that it was black and white, or that it was in the form of a square? Then you would tell me, “But that’s not a rainbow!”
Or suppose I told you that I went to the zoo and saw a zebra… what would you picture? A horse-sized mammal with black and white stripes, right? But if I told you that these zebras had pink polka dots and were the size of elephants, then you’d tell me that I can’t call such animals “zebras”… right?
It’s the same with marriage: Once you change the definition, you can’t call it marriage anymore, and therefore no amount of clarifying adjectives in front of the word will help or are needed.
Therefore there is no such thing as so-called “same-sex marriage,” for it is not a marriage.
Let’s go a little deeper in understanding why marriage can only be 1 Man + 1 Woman, United by God in a Covenant, 2Gether in Love 4 Life as 1.
John Piper says that “Marriage is created and defined by God in the Scriptures as the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life-long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.”
Piper goes on to say that “God created man male and female so that there might be a one-flesh sexual union and covenantal cleaving, with a view to (1) multiplying the human race, and (2) displaying….Christ’s covenant with his church.”
The Bible tells us that the marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a reflection of the greater and eternal true commitment between Jesus, the Bridegroom, and the church, the bride He came to earth to love, die for, and lead. God’s Word tells us that earthly marriages between one man and one woman were designed to point to the higher spiritual truth of God’s love for us, especially in the covenant bonds that Jesus came to establish with His Church.
So marriage is not just about us and our happiness… it’s not even just about making our spouse happy… because the highest design of marriage is to reflect and to point to Christ’s covenant love for His Bride, the church.
Over and over again, we read in scripture that marriage, one man and one woman united for life as one, is God’s creation, is God’s design, and is God’s plan. The Lord made male and female in the first place; the Lord brought them together; the Lord established the purpose and the parameters of marriage, and the Lord joins people together as one, and so we can say that God has the everlasting patent on marriage. He owns marriage! And so if anyone wants to tinker with marriage, they need to answer to the Creator of the universe! Since all marriages are joined together by God, all marriages must conform to God’s design of 1 man and 1 woman united 4 life as one. God has a vested interest in each marriage, and every marriage that perverts His original design is a rebellion against Him.
And note where the Bible’s core teaching on sexuality and on marriage are laid out for us in the first two chapters of Genesis, which means they are creation ordinances. What God teaches about being male and female and marriage being the union of one man and one woman for life is not just for Jews or just for Christians or for theists; rather, it is for all mankind, because it is part of the foundational principles built into creation itself, just as work and rest are built in. In other words, this view of marriage we have been talking about is not just for believers; it is for all people; it is not merely an ordinance of Christianity; it is an ordinance of creation. That’s why I willingly and joyfully will do pre-marital counseling and perform the wedding of two non-believers if they ask me to, because marriage is an “honorable estate” for all people!
Now allow me to apply all this to the current debate about who can be married:
I have read a few books written by homosexuals who profess to be Christians, to see how they try to defend homosexuality and “same-sex marriage” from a Biblical viewpoint. And I have yet to see any of these authors deal with Matt. 19:4-6 or Mark 10:6-9, in spite of the fact that these passages are the clearest teaching of our Savior on the subject of homosexuality and marriage.
So when someone tells you that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality or about same-sex marriage, graciously take them to Matt. 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9. Let them argue with the Lord Jesus Christ, for He has already clearly made His views known on these matters.
The whole issue really revolves around whether God made two and only two sexes (male and female), or not. If He did not, then you can have a whole spectrum of genders, and anything goes for “marriage.” But if He made only two sexes, and the two are clearly distinct and complementary, then marriage must only be between one man and one woman for life.
And, given that all the physical, emotional, and historical evidence has clearly pointed to the latter, then unless the other viewpoint comes up with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Biblical perspective on marriage must stand. Therefore, those who would seek to reverse the Biblical pattern of marriage are actually twisting, deforming, and perverting the sacred marital bonds that God has established. They are rebelling against the will of their Creator, claiming to be wiser than He is, and rejecting His loving leadership over them.
Tim Keller, in his book, The Meaning of Marriage, writes “We are defining marriage as a lifelong, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman. According to the bible, God devised marriage to reflect His saving love for us in Christ, to refine our character, to create stable human community for the birth and nurture of children, and to accomplish all this by bringing the complementary sexes into an enduring whole-life union…. This Christian vision for marriage is not something that can be realized by two people of the same sex.”
Conclusion: Marriage is 1 Man + 1 Woman, United by God in a Covenant, 2Gether in Love 4 Life as 1. So…Bank on it. Defend it. Preach it. Teach it. Live it. Model it. Enjoy it. Amen?