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16 - Marriage-- Pt 2

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God’s Design for Marriage, Part Two (Gen 2:24-25)

Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on October 21, 2007

www.goldcountrybaptist.org

 

For a third week now we’re looking at the biblical teaching on manhood, womanhood, marriage and the family in Genesis 2.

The following answers were given by 2nd grade school children to a series of questions relating to God’s making of man and woman and marriage and motherhood in particular:

How did God make mothers?
One 2nd grader said “He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.”
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and [a little bit] of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there [when my mom was little], but my guess would [she was] be pretty bossy.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.

That’s kind of light-hearted and silly, but it’s interesting to hear the ideas kids have about marriage and moms and dads and how and why God made us. But some ideas adults have are not much better.

The prevailing adult idea presents man and woman as being mere products of millions of years evolution from molecules to men, protoplasm to people, certainly not special creation by God.

This view is utterly incompatible with the text of Genesis 2, which says God made man out of dirt and made woman from his side.

Many groups of grown-ups argue that marriage is just a convention or invention of man in patriarchal societies, it evolved as well.

If many adults were to answer what they knew about their spouse before they married or why they married, you might get a whole host of answers that aren’t much more impressive (or mature) than what those 2nd grade children shared.

The sad reality is that many kids could not answer the questions about mom and dad because they do not grow up with a mom and a dad (or their real mom and dad), and of those who do have both, only a small fraction of those couples are seeking to fulfill the roles God gave them in Genesis 2. Of those, fewer teach their children the biblical truths about God’s creation of manhood and womanhood and marriage and masculinity and femininity. Radical feminists oppose marriage as unnecessary[1] and outdated – those who do believe in marriage are violently opposed to any ideas of male leadership/headship, or wives’ submission/subordination.

There is mass confusion in our day, which we cannot just blame on our culture. The responsibility has much to do with parents, and the church.

Even more sadly, many in our world don’t even think questions about a mom and a dad are appropriate for kids, because after all they say it’s discriminating against “alternative lifestyles” and different types of families, such as domestic partners, and efforts right here in Sacramento in recent bills which conservative groups say put us on the path where any  public school reference to traditional “mom and dad” by itself could be considered discriminatory – right here in our State legislature even while I’ve been teaching this series the past couple weeks we have seen attacks and proposed attacks in the Senate on God’s view of marriage and family. If we go a little farther towards San Fran., we are well aware of the Mayor’s legalizing same-sex marriages which continued at least temporarily in the Bay Area not long ago.

Even defining something as basic as a family and a marriage is under relentless attack, which is why it is so vital and urgent for us to be doing this study of God’s Word on this subject in Genesis 2.

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed

This one verse is one of the most important statements in the Old Testament, one of the most foundational truths that God ordained to be the fabric of society of His people. God’s definition:

ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, ONE FLESH, FOR ONE LIFETIME

God did not:

-          Make Adam and Eve to live with each other but not be married (v. 24 makes clear this was the first marriage and foundation of all marriages – cleaving before one flesh)

-          make a backup wife for Adam, for when He would be tired with Eve (there were only two people on the planet!)

-          create Adam and Steve (2 men or 2 women as viable)

-          create multiple spouses (Adam and Eve and Sally and Janice and Isabel and Gertrude)

God could have created multiple married couples in the beginning. He could have created families with kids. He could have created a community all at once, so that later on the next generation would not have to marry within the same family. But God did it the way He did in large measure to make the point as clear as possible that His original design and His continual design is for one man and woman to be one flesh, united in every way, till death parts them.

Remember, that Israel is the original recipient of this book, and this truth about God’s design for marriage would be important for them to get right from the start, as they prepared to enter the land of Canaan, which had very different marriage practices and ideas.

Different Ways God’s Ideal for Marriage in Genesis 2:24 Was Compromised in the History of Israel[2]

Biblical terminology Creation Ideal History of Israel
“a man … his wife” Monogamy Polygamy
“hold fast” Durability, fidelity Divorce, adultery
“a man … his wife … become one flesh” Heterosexuality …
Complementarity
Homosexuality …
Dilution of gender distinctions

 

God made marriage as a gift for lifelong union, which verse 24 describes as a 3-step process for marital oneness:

LEAVING, CLEAVING, AND WEAVING TOGETHER

This is covenant language, this is commitment language.

These same Hebrew words “leave” and “cleave” (or “cling”) were also used by Ruth expressing her commitment to Naomi. Ruth 1:14 says “Ruth clung [dabaq] to her” and in v. 16 she says “Don’t urge me to leave [azab] you … wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God … the Lord do so to me, and more also if anything but death parts you and me.” This is one of the greatest expressions of loyalty and commitment in the Bible and the passage uses the same words “leave” and “cleave” from Gen. 2:24.  

LEAVING - The word “leave” could also be translated as “forsake” and is somewhat comparable to Christ’s call to forsake even your closest family members and to follow Him instead, Jesus even used a stronger word “hate.” The point being, this new relationship and loyalty is supreme and is the new priority which makes all past relationships pale in comparison. It is dramatic language to make a dramatic point.

Is this physical forsaking or leaving? Jesus didn’t require people to literally abandon their family or cease to love them and care for them in appropriate ways in order to be a Christ-follower. Similarly, when you get married you no longer obey your parents as a child but you are still to honor them and care for your parents in time of need. The forsaking or leaving in Genesis 2:24 does not mean the couple must physically leave the community or that they can’t live on the same property as their parents (the early Israelites in fact did live together with parents or extended family).

The point is mainly figurative, but it’s forceful – this strong word represents a decisive and dramatic change of new life together with unbreakable new allegiance to your spouse. You emotionally leave your parents, you are not to be overly dependent on your parents, but are to establish your own relative independence and new life together. Former ties of family are now superseded by the priority of the new family. The husband-wife relationship is even more important than the parent-child relationship. It’s important for parents to let their kids go when they’re married and to not interfere with their marriage or this principle in God’s Word.

CLEAVING - Stick to, cling to, adhere to. The noun form was used of glue, husband and wife are glued together, stuck together.  Implied: like flesh ripping apart is what divorce looks like to God.

This is to be a permanent bond. Job used this word to talk about his bones cleaving to his skin. This Hebrew word was used of joints, body parts connected to each other. 

This fits with the phrases in v. 23 “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Adam uses this O.T. expression for close family ties, blood ties, a phrase which indicated deep love and commitment

Genesis 29:12-15 (NASB95)
12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things.
14 Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

This passage clearly equates “my bone and my flesh” with a relative, or “kinsman” in ESV, or literally “brother” in KJV

 

Marriage in O.T. law was as strong as blood ties, and this phrase for close relationship and kinship is still an idiom we use of children in our day (“my own flesh and blood”)

In some contexts, it appears that when Jews spoke about both “flesh and blood” for a relationship, it was a covenant formula or a pledge for reciprocal loyalty.

-          The tribes who were not related to David said to him “we are your bone and flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1), which does not mean they were related biologically, but that they were pledging their loyalty and support to him, like a brother, no matter what

-          So with Adam and Eve ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh becomes a covenantal statement of his commitment to her. Thus it would serve as the biblical counterpart to the modern marriage ceremony, “in weakness [i.e., flesh] and in strength [i.e., bone].” Circumstances will not alter the loyalty and commitment of the one to the other.’[3]

The word in v. 24 “cleave” or “cling to” or “be joined to” is even by itself a word used of maintaining a covenant relationship (Deut. 4:4, 10:20, 11:22, 13:4, 30:30). You are setting aside the loyalty you once had for your parents and are replacing it with a covenant loyalty to your spouse as top priority.

WEAVING – like weaving two threads into one new piece of cloth, marriage is the weaving of two lives together so that they become one. 1 Corinthians 7 says your body no longer belongs to you, it belongs to your spouse. Ephesians 5 says husbands are to love their wives as their own body and he who loves his wife loves himself? Why? Because she is his body, as Jesus said, they are no longer two, but one. In God’s eyes you are a united new entity, no longer two individuals. It must be the same in your eyes, too.

Both Adam and Eve were literally from one body, and were appropriately described as "one flesh." One flesh includes the idea of sexual union (I Cor. 6:16 quotes to warn against such union outside marriage which violates this principle) but it implies more than that.  This is the strongest construction Moses had in his vocabulary to write about a change of state - totally united in life, purpose

This “one flesh” of course includes the physical intimacy reserved only for your spouse, and there is also an emotional and relational oneness and closeness that should not be shared with any others of the opposite sex. I mentioned a couple weeks ago it’s possible to violate this principle and have an emotional affair by telephone or even on computer. Sadly, just this week I read this:

“Online Couple Cheated with Each Other” [Daily Telegraph, Sept. 18, 2007]: A married couple who didn't realise they were chatting each other up on the internet are divorcing. Sana Klaric and husband Adnan, who used the names "Sweetie" and "Prince of Joy" in an online chatroom, spent hours telling each other about their marriage troubles, Metro.co.uk reported.
The truth emerged when the two turned up for a date. Now the pair, from Zenica in central Bosnia, are divorcing after accusing each other of being unfaithful.

"I was suddenly in love. It was amazing. We seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriage. How right that turned out to be," Sana, 27, said.[4]

Apart from Jesus, these types of sad scenarios will only multiply. When we depart from our Lord’s pattern for oneness, serious consequences await us. When we seek satisfaction and fulfillment outside of Christ and the truths He has given us for our good, we suffer greatly. Marriage is to be about Christ, not about us.

I am not the authority on marriage, I’m not the expert or source of any clever new insights, I’m not the reservoir of wisdom for how your marriage and family can be all it was intended. I am not Dr. Phil, and he’s not the source, either, nor is Dr. Laura, or Dr. Spock, or even Dr. Dobson or any super famous Christian authors.

The only Doctor whose prognosis ultimately has authority is the One who did the first surgery ever here in Gen. 2, the Lord Himself who we know as the Great Physician. And He doesn’t just share His view, He gives us the rules for this institution He created:

ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN, ONE FLESH, FOR ONE LIFETIME

Turn for a moment from this 1st book in OT to 1st in NT – Matt 19. Jesus in Matthew 19 makes clear that Genesis 2 is not just a story about how the first human beings came to be, it is the all-important and all-determining final word by God on His design for marriage.

 

Matthew 19:3: ‘Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, [caps quote Gen 1:27] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? [quote from Gen. 2:24] 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”’

Notice that Jesus in verse 4 speaks of He (God) who made man, and in verse 5, He (God) is the same One who said this statement about marriage and the two becoming one flesh.  This is God’s Word on the matter, this is not Moses’ view of marriage or any human writer or editor putting in his opinion, this is what God said.

Jesus asks these experts on the Torah, “haven’t you read” the first chapter?? Haven’t you read the second chapter???

In verse 7, they shift the attention from what God said to what Moses said about divorce in a much debated passage (probably Dt. 24), which they misunderstood.  Moses recognized the presence of divorce in our sin-cursed world and gave regulations about it and remarriage restrictions and rules about other unfortunate realities in the ancient world, and we don’t have time to go into all the nuances of O.T. laws and the divorce debates among rabbis in Jesus’ day.  Jesus responds by saying Moses permitted Deut. 24 because of hardhearted sinful people, yet from the beginning (again going back to Genesis) it was not so. God’s original design and ideal is still one man, one woman, one flesh for one lifetime.  Israel’s departure from God’s design in the O.T. is not to be our focus, our focus is to be on God’s original design and pattern.

This is such an important issue that God spends much of His opening Words to the human race talking about man and woman being one flesh.  This union and task of holy matrimony is prominent at the end of God’s first chapter and virtually the entire point of the 2nd chapter: Marriage is by God, He must be the focus, not us; God sets the rules, and they’re for mankind’s blessing.

Jesus takes these Pharisees back to the beginning, these Jews who were trying to find some loophole or language in scripture to twist to justify sin in divorcing and remarrying unlawfully, and trying to get Jesus in trouble or pit him against Moses’ law. They’re trying to trap him with this controversial issue, but Jesus goes back to Genesis 1 & 2, and Paul also quotes these verses when he talks about the importance of marriage.  The N.T. writers went back to the beginning and so that’s what we want to do as well.

We could look at Mark 10 and see a parallel passage where Jesus affirms the same truth – “you are no longer two, but one” – you are not separate autonomous individuals anymore, you are one. And Jesus in that passage also affirms that any legal marriage, even marriages of unbelievers is “what God has joined together.”

In Christianity Today (10-07) an article came out this month arguing divorce is o.k. for emotional or physical neglect, or neglect of love or honor.[5]  I am not aware of any big-name theologian from the past who taught the view presented in this article, but it’s just another part in the trend of increasing divorce and broadening the scriptures tight teachings on this subject.

Sometimes a married Christian will say, “You know, I just don’t think it was God’s will for us to be married.” But the Bible says once you’re married, God has joined you together - you’re one, and what God has joined together, let no man separate.

 

Two of the most famous female Christian music artists from the 1980s and 90s went through very public divorces. Both of their tapes my family listened to and probably still know some of the songs by heart, but it was sad as I read one of the accounts of this musician as she explains that based on counseling from a pastor that marriage is created by God “so that people could enjoy each other to the fullest” [She concluded] "if two people are not thriving healthily in a situation, I say remove the marriage [and] let them heal" " (CCM Magazine, November 1999, p. 36).

She told her husband: "I believe and trust that I’ve been released from this [marriage]" (p. 35). Only the Lord knows the woman’s heart, but it appears that she had already committed herself to marrying another man, to whom she had already given her heart, and who she married after her divorce was official.

Her first husband said he did not want the marriage to end and he sought to save it, according to CCM Magazine, he said: "For five years after I was told that I was no longer loved and that she wanted out of the marriage, I refused that because of the kids." He testified of getting down on his knees and begging her not to leave. He said "It was not God's will that we divorced. It wasn't. That was not His plan. ... Did we allow God to do all He could do? Unquestionably no. No, we did not. 'Irreconcilable differences' [the basis upon which the divorce was sought, he said] is such a lame and hollow phrase. That's what you say when you're afraid to say anything. It's the legalese that allows you to walk away. From my vantage point, we had one irreconcilable difference: I wanted her to stay, and she wanted to leave. Everything else, God could have reconciled" (CCM Magazine, January 2000, pp. 36, 37).

On more than one occasion, we hear of famous Christians who decide all of a sudden that their marriage was not God’s will. But where do we find God’s will?  I don’t think it’s too radical to say we need to let God’s Word determine what God’s will is.

1 Corinthians 7:10-13 (NASB95) 10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.


God’s will is not some mystical feeling or impression you have. God’s will is revealed in God’s Word and will never contradict it.

Verse 15 does recognize there are some cases where an unbeliever departs or divorces you, situations that some cannot avoid. But usually this is not what’s appealed to as grounds of divorce among famous Christian couples, or famous pastors who stay in ministry after their divorce [in one recent case both husband and wife pastored separate churches and continued to do so during and after their divorce], or famous Christian TV personalities or athletes or Christian celebrities, and in many cases their divorce does not hinder their ministry, it helps it. Based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:9, most of these who remarry are committing adultery in so doing. This “one flesh” principle in Genesis is a big deal.

The “one flesh” idea in Genesis 2:24 is also developed by Paul in discussing the seriousness of any violation of that by intimacy outside the marriage bed.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (NASB95)
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

The seriousness of adultery or immorality outside marriage does not make you married (that requires leaving / cleaving) but it’s an assault on this one flesh principle; v. 20 reminds us that something bigger is at stake here – the glory of God who created marriage to reflect His glory and character and relationship between Son and Father as well as relationship of Christ and His church.

Are all sins equal? Any sin is enough to send us to the lake of fire, but not all sins are equal in consequences, and verses 18-19 suggest that immorality is so serious because it affects the Christian body, a desecration of the temple of God’s Holy Spirit!  Verse 15 says we are a part of Christ – committing immorality is like joining our Savior with a prostitute in the holy of holies before God’s sight!

Verse 18 says “flee immorality”

The next chapter tells us one way to do that is within marriage, to always and only seek to satisfy God-given desires in the God-given bounds of marriage

1 Corinthians 7:2-9 (NASB95)
2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6But this I say by way of concession, not of command [i.e. ,he’s not commanding  that all must be married]. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

But what if you’re not married?

Joseph gives the classic O.T. example of an unmarried man under temptation to immorality

Genesis 39:6-12 (NASB95)
6 … Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.

There are times when scripture calls us to resist temptation, and there’s other times when we’re called not to resist but to run from it, in particular immorality and idolatry. We are to get as far away from it as possible.

Proverbs 5:8 Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house,
Proverbs 4:23-27 (NASB95)
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
… 25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

The immediate application of the next chapter is to immorality

Proverbs 5:15-20 is a call to the joys and blessings God has ordained for the marriage bed and “one flesh” relationship

But the rest of the chapter warns those, and this warning is important for you single people and young people as well, like the original son being addressed here – sex outside of marriage will destroy you!

Verse 4 describes adultery as a double-edged sword

Verse 5 says it is the deadly path to Sheol or hell

Verse 14 describes the consequences as utter ruin

Verse 22 describes it as an ensnaring entangling trap

It’s not just the physical, we must guard our hearts, and make sure the “one flesh” principle of Genesis 2 is true of our minds / hearts

Proverbs 6:25-33 (NASB95)
25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.
… 27 Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned?
28 Or can a man walk on hot coals And his feet not be scorched?
29 So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her will not go unpunished.
… 32 The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it.
33 Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out.
The oneness God ordained for marriage is so important to our Lord, that even heart adultery is to be dealt with as radically as possibly (cf. graphic image of plucking out lustful eye in Matthew 5). This oneness in sexual intimacy is so important to God that He spends most of 3 chapters (Proverbs 5-7) warning against the devastation of adultery. It not only destroys individuals and marriages, but the end of chapter 7 concludes again with the image of the path to Sheol or hell – those who do not truly repent of such sin in most cases are headed to the lake of fire, not heaven. But those like David who repent of any sin can find grace from the Lord.

There’s a final application scripture gives of this “one flesh” principle which goes beyond physical intimacy to a spiritual intimacy and reality that’s even more important.

Ephesians 5:28-33 (NASB95)
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
30 because we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NASB95)
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:26-32 (NASB95)
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
… 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Wayne Grudem On What Male Leadership is supposed to mean in practice ""We moved to Phoenix Seminary in Arizona in 2001, primarily because of Margaret’s health. She had been experiencing chronic pain after an auto accident a number of years earlier, and we found that the pain was aggravated by cold and humidity. Well, the Chicago area is cold in the winter and humid in the summer! After a couple of trips to Arizona, which is hot and dry, we realized that Margaret felt much better there. So I phoned the academic dean at Phoenix Seminary and asked if there might possibly be a job opportunity there for me. It is a long and wonderful story of the Lord’s guidance and provision, but the result is that we have been here since June of 2001, Margaret has felt much better, and I also love the seminary where I am now teaching. So we are thankful for God’s blessings in many ways. I am thankful to the Lord that when we were making a decision about whether to move to Phoenix, on the very day we were talking and praying about it, I came to Ephesians 5:28 in my regular schedule of daily Bible reading, and the Lord used this verse strongly in my own decision process: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” After reading that, I thought it was important for me to move for the sake of Margaret’s physical body, her physical health."[6]

Husbands, wives, let's not make it hard on each other to fulfill the roles God has given. Our call is not to assert ourselves or our rights, but to be like Christ in yielding our preferences, needs, and desires in putting another above ourselves.  It’s an on-the-knees, foot-washing, not reviling when wronged, patient, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ has forgiven you. Marriage is God’s gift – thank God for the gift, then show your appreciation to your spouse in thoughtful and practical ways. What will you do this week?

Heb 13:4 "Marriage is to be held in honor among all"

Whether single or married, all should honor marriage and support families. Our focus is to glorify God in whatever position He has put us in.  The strength of families in this congregation and future ministries if God blesses, will depend largely on marriages being centered on God as the blazing Sun in the center around which all other priorities orbit in the right distance and balance.  Most important is not our needs, but it is to present a compelling picture of Christ and His church to a world that desperately needs it.

God has ordained marriage to be a primary vehicle through which He shows His glory. And how we reflect what God intended is the only sermon many unbelievers in our lives will ever hear, We must live out our marriages in such a way that others will ask the reason for the hope and joy in our marriage and will want to be part of the bride of Christ the Father will present to His Son.

    


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[1] Gloria Steinem has been credited with the feminist slogan “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” In 2000, she did marry

[2] Andreas Kostenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, p. 42.

[3] Hamilton, 1:180.

[4] http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22439156-5012895,00.html

[5]David Instone-Brewer, “What God Has Joined,” Christianity Today October 2007. He writes of his new view of divorce: ‘Although the church forgot the other cause for divorce, every Jew in Jesus' day knew about Exodus 21:10-11, which allowed divorce for neglect. Before rabbis introduced the "any cause" divorce, this was probably the most common type. Exodus says that everyone, even a slave wife, had three rights within marriage—the rights to food, clothing, and love. If these were neglected, the wronged spouse had the right to seek freedom from that marriage … These three rights became the basis of Jewish marriage vows—we find them listed in marriage certificates discovered near the Dead Sea. In later Jewish and Christian marriages, the language became more formal, such as "love, honor, and keep." These vows, together with a vow of sexual faithfulness, have always been the basis for marriage. Thus, the vows we make when we marry correspond directly to the biblical grounds for divorce … [Paul] didn't say that neglect of these rights was the basis of divorce because he didn't need to—it was stated on the marriage certificate. Anyone who was neglected, in terms of emotional support or physical support, could legally claim a divorce.’ http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html   

John Piper responds: “What makes it especially amazing is that CT simply published it as if it were faithful to Scripture, with no counterpoint, and used the phrase on the cover “when to separate,” not “whether to separate”—even though Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). To put it bluntly, the implication of this article is that every marriage I am aware of could already have legitimately ended in divorce … I did not expect to read this astonishing extension of the divorce license. It is, in our context of easy divorce and cavalier covenant-breaking, tragic … [The article’s implication is] We have a ground for divorce if we are not “honored” by our spouse. I don’t know any spouses who are so well honored by the other that they could not make a case that they are insufficiently honored. Instone-Brewer may have safeguards he puts around these sweeping grounds for divorce. But they are not in this article. So in the meantime, hundreds of wavering spouses may finally feel legitimized in their desire for divorce. “Here, at last, is a scholar who tells me that not only adultery, but neglect of honoring me is enough.” That just about releases all of us from our marriage covenants and puts an end to all church discipline. For there are no spouses who do not regularly dishonor their mate.’

For Piper’s full response, see

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2443_Tragically_Widening_the_Grounds_of_Legitimate_Divorce/

Andreas Kostenberger rejects the Christianity Today article as well, but presents the majority conservative understanding of Matthew 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24: http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/?p=154

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grudem

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