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Marriage: What it Is and Isn't

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What is marriage about and where do we get it wrong

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Genesis 2:18–25 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had 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. 20 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. 21 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. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Today we are endeavoring to look at Marriage, what it is and what it Isn’t...
We need to assume one major component today that Pastor Chad will explain further next week. How the Fall of man and sin has affected marriage. So just to give some brief context, the story will develop from and show how a serpent came to eve the woman and caused her to question God and ultimately rebel against his commands. Humanity will never be the same after that event and God will show Grace but yet will judge them. Because of this Sin becomes the very nature that everyone born after them is born into.
So while I do not want to focus on that today, I do want to mention that and give you a basic understanding of that story.
Today as we look at what marriage is and isn’t, we need to start at the beginning.
Genesis 1:27 ESV
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And being that we spent the last few weeks in these passages, lets jump ahead to what was read today...
Genesis 2:22–24 ESV
22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
So from these two parts of the main story what we can learn about Marriage and see what it is, or at least what it was intended to be.

God creates and defines Marriage

There is no other room from the Biblical text to believe anything other than the fact that God the Creator, created both male and female Genders. There are no other genders, and there is no other form of marriage. 1 man and 1 woman.
Now I understand the debate and how sensitive it can be in this day and age, yet the Historical Biblical view has not changed for thousands of years and we feel no need to amend it now that our society has changed their view of it.
We will not use that as a reason to hate others, and we will not judge those outside the church as that is not our place. Our role is to preach truth to them and let them receive it or not. Yet our position is informed by scripture and we view our culture through the lens of scripture, not the other way around.
So what Am I saying marriage is based on our findings in scripture here...

Marriage is: God’s Idea & meant for Man and Woman

I think that it is clear here that was the original design, before anything sinful had happened tainting marriage, this is clear.
We are going to look at other aspects of marriage but we must have a baseline and this is it. SO if we are going to plant a flag in the ground over marriage, this is where we land and the rest of this sermon will only reinforce that view.
And while the world and those outside the Christian Faith can understand that this is our view, it isn’t until we allow what marriage is inform our view of what it isn’t that we get non believers mad at us.
What do I mean by that??? Well if that what marriage is, then what isn’t it?

Marriage isn’t: Man’s Idea or Anything other than Man and Woman

Now I have your attention… Why?
Because after thousands of years that people have believed and practiced this, it has been challenged and championed as something other than this definition.
If this offends you, can I just stop you right now and say that everyone of us in this room are sinners in need of Gods grace to cover our sin. We have all sinned and we all need to renew our minds, even when we feel it challenges our worldview. But we either worship the God of the Bible or the God of our Imagination.
What else do we see from our main text in today?
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Not only do we see that God creates man and woman and gives them to each other in a mutually exclusive way called marriage, but we see why?!
Last week I alluded to that word for Helper, I said that it does not mean that man needed a servant that he could use and abuse because he was better than her. That word Helper means to assist and serve another with what is needed to make complete.
So, woman from God to Man is meant to bring strength to their union in serving God and each other.

Marriage is: Meant for Help, Strength, and serving God and each other

Without this, God says it is not good for man to be alone. Why?
Because he is incomplete. Companionship brings strength.
But please notice how this helper will be fashioned...
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
FIT for HIM.
Woman was made and designed to be Fit for man. I mean that even in the literal physical sense of their anatomy.
Nothing else in all creation is given to man as a helper fit for him. Because of this look what else this marriage between man and woman is meant for.
Genesis 1:28 ESV
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
To be fruitful and multiply can only mean one thing. They could not create other humans out of the dust of the ground as God created them, could they? No!
So then how are they going to multiply and fill the earth???
Genesis 2:24 ESV
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This is a picture of marriage and it unashamedly shows that marriage is for Procreation and pleasure!
Thats what it means to be fruitful and multiply, and this is done by Man holding fast to his wife. Other translations say cleave to his wife. It is meant to give a picture of two becoming one, so it say that they then become one flesh.
This is because the are fit for each other, commanded to procreate b y holding fast and that is something that is fruitful in their life.

Marriage is: for Procreation and Pleasure

That is what Be fruitful and multiply means!
I would be quick to point out though, that this does not mean that martial rights of intimacy and having children is the only reason for marriage. Rather we would say that it is a benefit of marriage that is prohibited outside of it.
SO if this is all the reasons we have found in just the beginning of the human races understanding of marriage, how do we get to a place where we are today?
SO if this is all the reasons we have found in just the beginning of the human races understanding of marriage, how do we get to a place where we are today?
Let’s be honest, in our culture marriage is not always looked at as an esteemed relationship between two people, and it is easily ended when it no longer mutually benefits those involved. Is this right?
Well let’s get back to the place where we are reminding ourselves of who these instruction were written to before applying its wisdom to our lives today.
Moses wrote Genesis to a recently freed slave people. They were under control of Egypt, and now are free to worship God in the desert. Yet they are so messed up from years of slavery that their view of each other is tainted by their former slave masters. They have no esteem for human life, and so they learn that they are Image bearers of God the Creator.
And while wandering in the dessert they receive a Law from God on how to live for him and worship him. Now we are most familiar with the 10 commandments, but there are actually 613 laws that inform everything about their lives.
Some are moral laws that inform how they live with each other, some are ceremonial or levitical laws that inform their worship, and some are more civil in nature that inform how their society is to live in the land.
With all these laws there surely must be something about marriage… Right?!?!
There are actually two laws that inform how they handle brokenness in marriage. Again please keep in mind that we are not looking so much at the effects of the fall on marriage but we are acknowledging that marriage like everything else was dramatically affected by the fall. Marriage like humans made in the image of God are now broken and not functioning the way they were designed. So the two laws we find that speak into marriage reflect the broken sin nature of humanity.
Why do I say that? Because both these laws we will look at speak of divorce. Lets look at them.
Exodus 21:10–11 ESV
10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
This is odd. This law speaks about what to do if a man takes for himself another wife. Before we can truly look at this and understand how it relates to everything we want to talk about with marriage today, I need to give you some background.
Marriage for the near eastern peoples, And the early Jewish society that this was written to, had dramatically changed the beauty we saw of completeness in . They were using marriage as a means of procreation, posterity and prosperity.
When they would marry they decided that it was acceptable and even encouraged to marry in your extended family line, especially cousins from your fathers side of the family. This way property and finances were kept in the family.
Now they didn’t always do this, and when they didn’t, marriage was treated as a business. It was seen as a means of growing ones personal wealth. So when a man would take a woman to marry he would asses what her family was good at and a Dowry was set up. A dowry was specific finances and wealth that the bride would pay to get into the marriage. In return her husband would provide Food, Clothing, and marital rights… meaning he would not with hold sexual intamacy from her in raising a family. REAL ROMANTIC… No hallmark movies with that storyline...
but to further see how marriage is being handled by broken people, notice what this verse is saying… If a husband takes another wife???
Polygamy was so widespread because it was a means of growing ones personal wealth, and they had not been informed of the Imago Dei - being created in the image of God. Remember that these former slaves were used to being bought and sold and treated as objects and so they apply this understand of their lives to their marriages. This very much makes women objects to be bought and sold and leads to abuse. But there is something in this verse I want you to notice.
While some would say that this verse is permission to marry multiple wives, I would submit to the that this is the exact mistake they made in hearing and applying this law. This law is not as much about permission as it is about Prohibition.
Look at it again.
Exodus 21:10–11 ESV
10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Notice the language… IF he takes another...
Men, If you are going to go the way of the world, you SHALL NOT violate your covenant. The fact that you have sworn to provide, protect and pleasure your spouse will be upheld or else she gets out without having to pay you anything. This was a law that demanded that a man must not abandon his wife.
In Tim Mackie’s words, “This law protects the dignity of woman”...
So while there is obvious brokenness in the treating of marriage, there is also honor that is being demanded from God in how we are treating marriage and caring for our wives.
Because of this we can see some of what marriage Isn’t...

Marriage ISN’T - Man’s Idea

Clearly God is demanding men to act appropriately but Prohibiting abandonment. If marriage was mans idea this would be in here.

Marriage ISN’T - Meant for Abuse

Because there were so few laws it gave importance to what was said. In this case, to mistreat or abuse your wife meant she could leave the marriage and she could take whatever wealth she brought into it.
So let me be clear… If you are not Providing, Protecting and pursuing Pleasure with your spouse you are abusing them and not honoring the covenant you made with them before God. If you really want to argue that and need a specific breakdown of what exactly this means, You have a Gospel issue in your heart and need counseling. If you want to argue over the Amount of Providing, the manner of protecting, or the frequency of pleasuring… Your heart is leaning towards abusive tendencies and you need to repent!
We do not and will not coddle abusers, male or female, makes no difference. Abuse and abandonment is how man treats God’s Holy gift and it is sinful and wrong.
But that was just one of two laws… this next one we are going to see how far off base the people are getting from ...
Deuteronomy 24:1–4 ESV
1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
What is this all about???
If a man is displeased with his wife in any way he can give her a divorce??? Is that really what is being said here? What is at the heart of this law?
This law states that if a man divorces his wife for whatever reason… And that whatever reason is not permission to come up with whatever reason you want, it is just being written in a way that doesn’t get into specifics, And I will show why that is in a moment so hold that thought… so whatever the reason he divorces and she leaves and re-marries, and that doesn’t go well due to similar circumstances or even death of that husband, then this woman cannot be remarried by the original man, because she is defiled… And while people stop there and get outraged, who defiled her in the first place? The original man who divorced her did. He is the perpetrator of sin here.
This law is meant for man to be held accountable to keeping their covenant.

Marriage ISN’T - An Agreement that can be broken or fulfilled by Providing or Withholding anything!

IF we treat marriage as anything less than a covenant we make with each other before God, then it becomes a transaction we can opt in or out of. God is putting boundaries on abusive treatments of marriage.
See what children of Israel get from this law will show how out of balance their understanding of Marriage is.
They read this law and only focus on the first verse and so, they use this law for a man to divorce his wife for virtually any reason they want. This law was used to protect men from having a displeasing marriage.
Between this law that is being twisted for men and the other that is meant for the dignity of woman, which do you think was more popular in that society???
This one… And that becomes a big problem because it causes an even more broken view of marriage. For thousands of years marriage is now being treated as a contract for financial betterment. Women are becoming more and more objectified as property and sin is hardening humanities hearts.
How do we know this? Because when Jesus comes and the pharisees question him about this he shows us how bad of a view we have of Marriage...
Matthew 19:3 ESV
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
Pharisees come to Jesus and ask him a question based on the law we just reviewed… They interpret this law as a man can divorce for any cause. They ask him if it is lawful because if Jesus says no, they can point him back to this law. But Jesus is smarter than to just answer a yes or no, in fact he does what he always does… He points back to something deeper and more profound.
In his annoyance Jesus points them back to creation of male and female and establishment of marriage.
Matthew 19:4–6 ESV
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus makes it clear what marriage is here, and how important it is.
Marriage is One man and One Woman, and they are created by God. God establishes gender roles, he also points them to what marriage looks like… Parents raising their son and then he takes a woman and holds fast to her, and becomes one flesh.
Marriage is God’s idea, where parents give approval, and male and female consumate! This is meant to be unbreakable...
The pharisees don’t like this. We often get people upset when we try to point to the original holy union that marriage is supposed to be. These pharisees are not going to let Jesus point them to creation and not say anything about how they have treated marriage.
Matthew 19:7 ESV
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
Again they go back to this same law as some sort of justification in divorcing. Isn’t is funny how they were trying to use the law to trap Jesus into helping them justify their positions on divorce? Do we do that today? Do we look for reason to justify divorce now?
Let’s see how Jesus answers.
Matthew 19:8 ESV
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Why… Why did Jesus tell them that Moses gave them a command on divorce?
Because their hearts were Hardened… What does that mean? To have a hard heart?
Jesus often told people that they couldn’t believe because their hearts were hardened. It means to doubt God, to be sinful in our understanding of Gods law, and will lead to you missing the point. Listen to these verses about a hard heart to better understand...
Mark 8:17 ESV
17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
Jesus is saying are you being sinful, doubting and missing the point?
Romans 2:5 ESV
5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
A hard heart is the same as an impenitent heart. Meaning it is a heart that has not repented of Sin… it is darkened by sin, and faithless. People with hard hearts will be judged. Does this sound like people who are saved?
Hebrews 3:13 ESV
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
A heart that is being hardened is one that is increasingly becoming sinful.
So when Jesus tells them that Moses gave them a law about divorce… it was not because divorce was good, but rather because they were sinful. And in their sin there was no need to compound it with more evil intent, so the law is trying to discourage it but sinful people just use that in a twisted way.
But again look at what Jesus said...
Matthew 19:8 ESV
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
It was no so from the beginning!
Marriage was a God ordained covenant that male and female were meant to become one that no one would separate.

Marriage IS - not meant to be broken

Yet even in stating all this Jesus does in fact recognize the broken sinful state of humanity and gives some final thoughts on this… this may seems difficult to break down, but please understand the heart behind it instead of the specific reasons.
Matthew 19:9 ESV
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Jesus acknowledges marital unfaithfulness and shows how remarriage CAN be sinful...
Why do I say CAN be??? Please hear the rest of the conversation before trying to find a hard fast rule to justify divorce and re-marriage...
Matthew 19:10 ESV
10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
The disciples hear this… that if they divorce out side of very specific reasons, then they become sinful. That doesn’t make them think more of marriage, but rather that they should just not marry???? Does this seem messed up to anyone else???
“Man, if I divorce I can’t re-marry without being in sin??? Then I’m just not gonna marry at all!”
Sounds like they are assuming marriage will end up broken and unfaithful. That is a very low view of marriage.
Yet Jesus points out the concept is not for everyone...
Matthew 19:11 ESV
11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
SO, to whom was this command about marriage given? To Whom was the law written? Who is hearing this today?
The Law was written to Gods people who were being called to a Holy, Distinct life of Worship to the one true God. Who was Jesus telling this to? Believers, not unbelievers. God’s word is meant to inform us of how we ought to live now that we have been saved, and it has no bearing on those who do not believe it.
Jesus is saying not everyone is going to hold this view, because of sin, many will perish and they will pervert their view of marriage. He goes on further even...
Matthew 19:12 ESV
12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
A Eunuch is one who cannot reproduce… Do you understand this? They are not able to make someone pregnant… Need I say more?
Jesus says that there are those who can’t participate in aspect of marriage because they were born that way, or others have made them that way, or they have decided to make themselves that way for sake of not letting it get in the way of ministering to others. Yet he says… Let the one who is able to receive it receive this!
Meaning no matter where you fall in this spectrum, this is instructions for those who are ABLE to receive them...
Those who are outside of the household of Faith are not able to understand nor express saving Faith unless the Spirit enables them to do so. Jesus is saying these instructions of marriage are for those who have true Faith in God. Outside of that, this teaching cannot be recieved.
So, if you were married before you were a Christian and that marriage failed, it is no wonder, and therefore not able to be kept in this way.
However, outside of the martial unfaithfulness, abandonment or abuse that the Bible gives clarity to… Believers are not to divorce and if they do, they are not to remarry. But the world cannot accept that.
And while this is a lot of information, there is one more place we must look in order to understand Marriage. We need to hear this and understand what Marriage is and what the greater purpose of it is...
Ephesians 5:22–31 ESV
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Now we have the God Ordained roles of gender and household given explicitly here.
Wives should submit, not in a domineering way, but as the Church does to Christ… Church do we submit to Jesus Christ because he beats us down with his words and forces us into a sub-servant role where we have little to no value? NO WAY!!!
We Should Joyfully submit to the one who loves us and saves us… This is what it looks like when wives submit to their husband...
Husbands are Love their wives, and not in just am mutually beneficial, or even selfishly pleasurable way… Here is the standard...
How did Christ love the church? What did it look like???
He values the church so much that he not only established it, but dies for it, and defeats death for it, and promises to come back for it in all his Glory and Power! Jesus dies for us and Sanctifies us from the dirty sins in this world. Not only that but husbands… as if that was not a high enough standard to live up to...
As we would take care of our own bodies we need to take care of our wives. If you love yourself… but maybe that is the problem… You don’t have a good enough view of yourself so you can’t even dare to care for and love another who has been given as a gift to help strengthen you.
And in all of this, the 2 shall become 1… the marriage bed is not to be forsaken. It seems like this keeps coming up… and scripture has more to say about it...
Hebrews 13:4 ESV
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hold your marriage in Honor and guard the marriage bed… because it should not be treated like those in this world who are immoral and adulterous.
If your marriage has been broken by Sin, You can use it as an excuse to check out… Especially if your heart is being hardened. But that would only cause sin rule and be spread more and more.
I would appeal to you to forgive each other and begin the work of loving each other again at all costs! Why??? Because God did not give us the Gospel to better understand our marriage, but

Marriage IS - meant to to better understand the Gospel

what am I saying????
The picture Paul gave us in Ephesians is not complete, yet hints to something...
Wives act like the church in loving, willing submission to a leadership that Husbands are willing to give, which looks like a self sacrificing gift that is so extravagant it mirrors the work of Christ! That is a picture of the Gospel that has found us and saved us and redeems us!
Ephesians 5:32 ESV
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Everything that Paul instructed us about husbands and wives in marriage is actually helping us understand the Gospel. The relationship between Christ and the Church.
If you are a believer… It is by Grace alone, thru Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, and that is found in Scripture Alone, and all of this is to the Glory of God Alone!
And our marriages help us understand this!
It is by Grace that our sins are forgiven and in marriage we have no great opportunity to understand the Gospel than by extending Grace to each other when we sin.
And this Grace is only through Faith, in the work of another that changes us in such a deep way that we would want to default to being Gracious.
But that work is not found in our law keeping, or our fulfilling of vows, it is only found in Christ, who did for us what we could not do for ourselves… And that keeps us humble enough to not Lord our marriages over each other.
We only understand all this by our constant looking to the Scriptures, because the world is not able to understand Marriage or even define what it is or Isn’t.
And when we understand and share this with our spouses, we show a Picture of Christ and the Church which brings Glory to God Alone for redeeming his creation that fell in the garden.

Marriage IS - A gift from God to help us show our Salvation in Christ to the World around us!

Let us pray that we would understand this, and portray this to not only our children, family, friends and neighbors, but unto the Glory of God enough that we would understand what great a salvation we have been given in Christ!
Let’s pray!
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