What is Marriage For?

wedding-4

Here are some Biblical reasons for marriage.  The first five would be true even if man had not sinned. Only the last two are a result of sin in some way, though of course sin affects our ability to fulfill the first five. These are not in any particular order. 

First, God ordained marriage for taking dominion over the earth. Genesis 1:26-28 gives us God’s original plan for man.  Man was given dominion over the earth, he was to fill the earth and subdue it.  Eve was to be Adam’s helper as he subdued the earth (Genesis 2:18). Psalm 8 makes it clear that this dominion still belongs to man even after the sin in the Garden of Eden. Christ redeems us so that we might participate in His taking dominion over the earth.  Of course, a single person can participate in the dominion mandate. But typically we fulfill this command through getting married and having children. 

Second, God ordained marriage to be a witness to Christ and his church. Churches love to talk about evangelism, which is of course a good thing. But marriage is explicitly called a picture of Christ and his church. Ephesians 5:22-33 makes it clear that when a man and woman get married they immediately become a living, breathing painting of Jesus and His Bride. This means our marriages always point to something greater than the marriage itself. A failed or bad Christian marriage is a slander of Jesus Christ.

Third, God ordained marriage for our companionship. It was not good for Adam to be alone.  Over the years we are married there should be an emotional and spiritual intimacy that develops between husband and wife. There is a lot of sentimentality that surrounds marriages. People talk of “soul mates” and such things.  As Christians we should avoid this. But there is a kernel of truth there. God does want us to grow closer to our spouse. Husbands and wives should enjoy each other’s company and companionship more and more over the years.   

Fourth, God ordained marriage for the bearing of children. This is explicitly stated in Genesis 1:28. The Scriptures see children of covenant parents as a great blessing to God and his Kingdom. The Scriptures assume and expect that godly marriages will be fruitful and bear many children (See Deut. 28:4, 11, Psalm 127-128, I Timothy 5:10, 14, Titus 2:4).  A couple that refuses to bear children is violating God’s Word. If a couple cannot have children that does not mean they are not blessed by God. God intends to bless that couple in other ways and for them to honor him in other ways. However, most Christian marriages should result in a having many children and bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Fifth, God ordained marriage for our physical pleasure. Proverbs 5:15-20 and the Song of Solomon make this point. The sexual relationship is not just for the bearing of children or for sexual protection. It is also for the joy and pleasure of the couple. God intended for us to enjoy our spouses physically. Too many Christians find this a bit much, that God would create such a physical high. “Is that really spiritual”, we ask? But God made sex to be thoroughly enjoyed within marriage. It is not an idol to be worshiped. And your goal is not to have the “best orgasm in history” as the world tells us. But the marriage bed is meant to be fun and exciting. Those who tell you otherwise are liars. 

Sixth, God ordained marriage for our sexual protection. Paul makes this clear in I Corinthians 7:2-5. Getting married is one of the ways God keeps us from burning with lust. Long delays in getting married, which are common in our culture, make us more vulnerable to sexual sin including pornography and fornication. Marriage is not an automatic cure for sexual sin, but it does help. 

Seventh, God ordained marriage for our sanctification.  There are few situations like marriage and raising children that can show someone their sinful heart. We get married believing we are great and wonderful, only to find out there are a lot of ungodly thoughts and emotions that we need to repent of. Later we think we matured spiritually then children come along and the process starts all over again. God sanctifies us in other ways. But marriage is  one of the primary ways he helps us grow in the image of Christ.  

S&S Podcast 2016.29 The Blame Game

blame

In the podcast I reflect on how we use our good deeds, such as prayer, tithing, teaching our children modesty, going to church, catechizing, etc. to buy favors from God. What effect does this type of thinking have on our relationship with God? As always comments are welcome.

God is not our Brother: Calvin on Christ’s Submission in I Cor. 11:3

We know that our Lord Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh; and God is not divided; He cannot be inferior to himself. How is it then, that Jesus Christ is set below God, his Father, as if he were not equal with in majesty and glory?

Now let us observe that there are two things to consider in Jesus Christ. One is that he is the Wisdom of God before the creation of the world. Here then, is the way which he has always been exalted over all things. Yet, inasmuch as he became a Mediator in order to bring us near to God, his Father, he is set beneath, not in that divine essence, which resides in him in all fullness, and in which he does not differ from his Father at all, but as to making himself our Brother. It is not to be said that God is our Brother; that would not do; yet Jesus Christ is such; even inasmuch as he has put on our flesh and nature, and being thus abased he stretched out his hand to us to join and unite us to God.

Thus there is no problem with saying that Jesus Christ has his sovereign lordship and majesty right along with God, his Father, insofar as he is the Eternal Wisdom who has always been; yet insofar as he became the Mediator, it is said that he humbled himself, yea, made himself as nothing, as St. Paul discusses in Philippians [2:8]. This is also why he is called the servant of God by the prophet in Isaiah [52:13, 53:11]; and he even came to serve us , which is an amazing thing: the One Who is The Glorious God, the One Who is adored by the angels, was willing to humble himself so far as to serve our salvation, and made himself as nothing, as we already said. (Sermon on I Cor. 11:2-3)

Showing Compassion in the Nasty Public World

Good Samaritan

I am a pastor with nine kids and a flock of about 14 households to care for, which includes over sixty people. I have made many excuses over the years for not being involved with or caring for people outside my family and church.  But the world doesn’t just need fathers at home and fathers in the church the world needs fathers in the city gates. Our communities need men who care about the community, who will preach to her, live truth in front of her, call her leaders to walk in the truth, care for her physical needs, and love her. But too many Christians, especially conservative ones, are rarely involved in their community. Pastor Tim Bayly’s chapter “City Fathers” in his book Daddy Tried was convicting on this issue. Here is a section where he sweeps away the excuses we make for not caring for those in our community.

In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus introduced to a godly city father. I’m sure you know the story. The man really loved his fellow man, the man who as a good father, even to a stranger in his community, was the man who helped him. And I’m sure you remember the uncaring men who did not stop to help their brother in need. What sorts of excuses might we make if we came across a man left for dead by thieves today.

-Uh, right Jesus; we should love our neighbor as ourselves. But you know, right now I’m working on loving myself. And you know, it’s hard work! I grew up in a broken home…

-You know what Jesus? My parents never took me to church or Sunday school. I grew up in a single parent home. Men came and went every couple of months and “God” was  curse word, so I am trying to change all that in my home. We have family devotions every morning, we’re part of a family-centered church and we homeschool. I run my own business, so between family dinner and homeschooling and co-op and flute and piano lesson and gymnastics and soccer and church and my business, I pretty much fall into bed every night…

-We’re committed to having as many children as the Lord chooses to bless us with, so my wife doesn’t have a minute to call her own. We’ve seven kids in ten years-it’s been forever since she and I got away along together. I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor. But honestly, where’s the time…

-Part of the reason we live out here in the country is so we can get away from the world’s bad influences. Some of the people around here are meth addicts and I really don’t want them in our home. I don’t want them around my wife or children. I’m afraid if I stopped at their house to meet them, someone might light a cigarette and the whole place would blow up. You know?…

-Listen Jesus. You know what? I don’t think my so called “neighbor” is that lousy bum out walking in the traffic island in the middle of the intersection trying to make people sorry for him with that sign asking for money. He can work just as good as me. Why doesn’t he? You know he’s gonna spend the money on booze or drugs. He’s not my neighbor….

-I’ve thought carefully about the whole thing, Jesus. Poverty is not an economic problem. It’s a spiritual problem with a spiritual solution. Real poverty isn’t hunger or thirst or limited medical care. It’s dying without faith in Jesus Christ. We need to give our attention to the first things. We’ve gotta be Gospel-centered. We can’t spend our time arranging deck chairs on the Titanic when souls are dying and going to Hell…

-Jesus, think of all the so-called Christians who have turned away from witnessing to the Gospel, instead talking about social justice, healing the planet, sustainability, and global warming. Is that what this is all about? Are You just telling me to engage in more liberal do-goodsim?…

You see how many ways we justify our cold hearts? We love ourselves quite well, thank you. Meanwhile, we’re absolutely convinced we have no money or time or energy to love any outsider. We think most of Christian living is simply keeping our marriage and home intact.

Jesus wants us to understand that being a neighbor to a man in need is not a duty, but a privilege. Instead of trying to limit our compassion, we’re to live by faith trusting God to give us everything we need as we look for opportunities so serve, love, and show compassion in the nasty public world outside our clean homes and churches.

It’s our privilege to take responsibility for others, especially others from the wrong side of the tracks, others lacking visas, others who worship a false god, others whose problems are overwhelming to us and will likely bankrupt us if we stop to ask how we may help. This is our privilege.

This is what God did for us. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we would be called children of God; and such we are. (I Jn 3:1)

Our Father is unbelievably  liberal with His love, isn’t He? If we are commanded to be like Him, why are we so conservative? When He has been so tender can compassionate, sending His only begotten Son to die for sinful man, how can we be so stingy? Why are we so tight-fisted?

Look, the world doesn’t have enough bandwidth on the web or ink and paper to print all the excuses we self-professed Christian men use to justify ourselves in our lovelessness. Can we not commit ourselves to hear Jesus’s story and to learn what He intended to teach us by our hero, the Good Samaritan?

This chapter was painful to read. We, conservative Christians who love our money and peace and privacy and theology,  make these excuses. We wrap our coldness up in Bible verses and pious phrases. The reality is we don’t want to get dirty with the world. We don’t want the beaten man’s blood on our nice clean clothes. How can we change this brothers? How can we get our families to care, to truly love, those in our community?  I continue to evaluate what the church, her pastors, and her people are called to do out in the “nasty public world.” One thing I am convinced of is that we need to find ways to love our neighbors and to practice justice and mercy in the city gate. If we do not our witness will be weak and God will not be glorified.

A Thought Experiment

Pulse Shooting

Imagine you hear of a neo-Nazi rally. At this rally hate speech is directed at Jews and African Americans. People are encouraged to not patronize African-American businesses. Parents are encouraged to make sure their children do not interact with people of color. Employers are encouraged to not hire or fire African-Americans or Hispanics. Marrying a person of color is an abomination. After the speeches, in private, men discuss ways to “limit” the flow of immigrants, hurt black businesses and families, and get racist men into political office.  Many of the men have been active agents in arson, vandalism, as well as petty violence against people of color. Some of them run web sites which promote hatred of African Americans. These men have pictures of Hitler on their basement walls. As the night winds down, a fire breaks out in the back of the rally hall. In the ensuing confusion 35 men are trampled or burned to death, as well as dozens of women. Was that the judgment of God?

Or you hear of two co-workers, a man and woman. Both are married with a couple of children and considered pillars in their community and churches. Behind the backs of their spouses they are having an affair. These affairs usually take place on business trips. But occasionally they steal away in the afternoon and get a hotel room on the other side of town. During one of these afternoon excursions, they are shot in their hotel room by a drug dealer and his girlfriend who wanted the man’s Lexus. They are found by the hotel manager later that day. Was that the judgment of God?

Or three  male pedophiles are driving late one night to pick up a young girl who has been kidnapped and sold on the black market. They have already done this numerous times. They take the children, use them and the resell them once they are done, usually to someone overseas. They have been on police radar for a while, but nothing concrete has been gotten on them. As they are driving, a semi-truck driver falls asleep and hits them head on killing the pedophiles instantly. Was that the judgment of God? Continue reading