This is Part 3 of our series, Jesus in Genesis. First preached at Glynwood Baptist Church on October 1, 2017. Preacher: James Jackson, Senior Pastor. 3. God’s Design For Marriage for the PDF of the PowerPoint
Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18-24
Intro: Where did I come from illustration “Daddy,” said the small boy, “where did I come from?”
The father, who had been dreading the day the question would be asked, launched into a long contrived explanation on the facts of life. The boy listened attentively. At last the father concluded, “So now you know—but just as a matter of curiosity, how did you happen to ask?”
“Nothing special, Dad,” said the son, “the new boy at our school said he came from Millbrook and I was wondering where I came from.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g]and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
- What does it mean to be created in God’s image? (v. 27) Men and women are like God:
Mentally: we are capable of thought and reason, We can make choices. We can plan in advance
Morally: We can choose right from wrong, even when choosing the right has no benefit to ourselves personally.
socially: Just as God exists in relationship, with the three Persons of the Trinity, God created us to be in relationship as well, with Himself and with each other.
Eternally: The Scottish pastor George Macdonald said, “People are not bodies who have a soul; they are souls who have a body. Every one of us has a soul that is eternal and will exist forever in one of two places. In this way, we are made in the image of God in a way that is different from the animals. Ecclesiastes 3:11- God has set eternity in the hearts of men.
God’s first purpose for marriage (v. 28): procreation
Sex was God’s idea. God blessed it. It wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t something we wouldn’t or shouldn’t talk about in the presence of God. God blessed sex and gender differences before the fall. Realize that after this, verse 31 says, “God saw everything He had made and it was very good.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you are something less than God’s image bearer if you are single, or if you are unable to have children. The point is that sexual distinctions and sexual enjoyment are both God’s idea.
Notice also that gender distinctions are god’s idea. Verse 27 says that He created them male and female. That means that it isn’t up to us to recreate ourselves in any way other than how God created us. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who legitimately struggle with same sex attraction. It’s a real thing, and it may or may not go away, even after someone becomes a Christian. But we have to remember that our desires for things that God has forbidden are not because of how God has made us, but of how sin has distorted us. Throughout scripture God forbids homosexual practice. So for a Christian who struggles with same sex attraction, that doesn’t mean he or she is beyond the reach of God’s grace. But it does mean that their path to a God honoring Christian life is going to be through singleness and celibacy.
- “It is not good for the man to be alone” (vv. 18-20)
Things get personal in Genesis 2. Notice that verse 4 uses the covenant name of God. Up to this point, the Hebrew word has been Elohim. Verse 4, notice the capital LORD—that’s how English translations always alert us to the personal name YHWH. This doesn’t mean Genesis 1 and 2 come from two different sources. It just means that God is going from the wide angle lens of all creation to the narrow focus on the first man and woman, and the relationship he has with them. Isn’t it amazing that the creator of the Universe gives us His personal name!
It is also personal in the way God made Adam. Up to this point, it has been the Hebrew word asah for everything God creates. It means “produce” or “create.” But look at verse 7: The LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground. That’s the Hebrew word yatsar, and it means squeezed, or molded. It’s the same used word used throughout the OT to describe a potter working clay. With everything else in creation, God could just speak something into existence. With human beings, he got His hands dirty!
So in verse 18 we have the first thing in all creation that God pronounces “not good”. Isolation is not alone. Remember, God created us to be like Him socially. So begins what has to be the most awkward beauty pageant in history. God parades every animal past Adam for Adam to name. But His word says “for Adam, no suitable helper could be found.” Adam is looking for someone or something he can connect with mentally, morally, socially, and eternally. And there’s no other creature on the planet that he can do that with. Dogs are social creatures, but they aren’t intellectual creatures. Chimpanzees and dolphins are smart, but they aren’t moral. And no animal is eternal.
The problem: finding someone who’s like God the way you’re like God
Adam is looking for the one who is like God the way Adam is like God. And he doesn’t find that in any of the animals. If you are single and hoping to be married someday, take this to heart. You are looking for someone who is like you mentally, morally, socially, and especially eternally. if you don’t have that, then you haven’t found your suitable helper yet. And if I can be real with you for a second, you need to seriously evaluate where you are looking for them. Do you really expect to find someone who shares your values in a place that is contrary to your values?
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)
The solution: “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman”
Now, I know the Bible is God’s inspired word. And I don’t question that Adam said this… eventually. But keep in mind that Moses is writing this at least 1500 years after it happened. So I don’t know if the first thing he said was “this is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.” Adam has just spent who knows how long trying to play chess with chimpanzees, or hanging out socially with llamas. I think maybe the first thing he said was “WOW!!!!” “MAN!!!” See, there it is! “She shall be called “WOW! MAN!”
Like him in the right way: in nature, in purpose, in character
- In nature– you’re biologically compatible.
- In purpose (multiply, rule the earth, subdue)– vocationally compatible:
- character: you are spiritually compatible,
Different from him in the right way: gender. Adam looks at her and thinks, whoa. She’s… different! And different is good!
Sam Allberry, in his book “Is God Anti Gay” puts it beautifully: She is a different example of the same kind of thing as him. It is this complementarity that leads to profound unity between them when they come together in sexual union.
According to Legal Answers.com, Irreconcilable differences is a no-fault grounds for divorce, which means neither party committed any sort of extenuating act, such as adultery, abandonment or extreme cruelty. In other words, no-fault divorce is just like it sounds—no single party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
In 2010, New York, the last state to offer legal provision for a “no fault” divorce, finally did so. Every state now has some way to dissolve a marriage with neither partner citing abuse, neglect, abandonment or infidelity. As a result, overall divorce rates have increased 20%-25%. Hear this: when you take those issues off the table, I’m convinced that most marriages don’t really fail because of irreconciliable differences. They fail because of irreconciliable similarities. You’re both selfish. You’re both sinful. You’re both self absorbed.
- “For this reason…” (v. 24)
- To reflect God’s nature
In Dt. 6:4, the first, foundational statement of faith for the Hebrew people was “Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One.” That word for “one” is ehad. And it is the same word used in verse 24 for what happens to a man and woman in marriage. They become ehad with each other. They become one.
Marriage is a God-given way for humanity to reflect the unity and diversity that is seen in the Trinity. God’s oneness is not sameness, as though the three persons of the trinity were identical to one another. It is unity in difference, not uniformity. The same cannot be said of a same-sex marriage. It isn’t possible for two men and two women to become one in this way. Go back to what we talked about before: they might be the same in the right way, but they aren’t different from one another in the right way.
- To multiply and fill the earth
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Mal. 2:15)
Christians– 1.9 billion people. Muslims 1.7 billion. By 2050, Muslims will have caught up to Christians. David Platt points out that part of this is because Muslim couples are having more children, (3.1 per Muslim woman compared to 2.7 for Christian), they are having children sooner, and they are staying married longer. At Secret Church 16, Dr. Platt had this to say:
God’s initial command to man and woman—“Be fruitful. Increase. Multiply.” It’s in the Word. So I’m compelled to ask, particularly in our culture, are we going to change our casual approaches to marriage? Christians primarily in their 20s and 30s. Single brothers in Christ—high school, college students, young professionals in your 20s and 30s—you’re surrounded by a culture that takes a casual approach to marriage, viewing it as unimportant. It’s something to be delayed as long as possible—if ever—resulting in all kinds of single men running off to all kinds of pursuits in this world, while prolonging taking responsibility for a family. I want to challenge you to change that in your life, to step up and take responsibility for pursuing, finding and caring for a wife. There are countless strong Christian single sisters who are waiting for you to step it up. None of them are perfect—but neither are you. So commit yourself to loving and caring and providing for a wife, like Christ does the church. It’s a picture of the gospel. And then when you do, to the extent which you are physically able, have babies! So will we change our casual approaches to marriage and will we counter cultural attitudes toward multiplication? … What I’m talking about here is the cultural attitude that says, “Kids are expensive and a hindrance to you experiencing all you want to experience in your life and your work in the world.” I want to call you to counter that, biologically or through the beauty of adoption or however. Psalm 127 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord….Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” So, to the extent to which you are able, fill the quiver. Fill the quiver with arrows and shoot them into the world for the glory of God’s name. Children are not a barrier in your life—they’re a blessing for your life, and to the world.
To reflect the relationship between Christ and the church
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)
The church is not the same as Christ and Christ is not the same as the church. To that many of us can say, “Thank God!” because many people have been hurt by the church. Scripture describes the church the Bride of Christ, here in this passage:
(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), as well as in 2 Corinthians 11, and finally in Revelation 19.
It is because Christ is different from the church that he is able to draw her to himself and to cleanse her, as Ephesians says through the washing of the water with the word.
Human marriage is a reflection of the supreme, heavenly marriage between Christ and his people. This is why as Christians we can’t define marriage in such a way as to include gay couples. As Allberry says in his book, “a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, cannot reflect the union of Christ and the church. It would represent christ and christ or church and church.”
Invitation challenge: for husbands and wives to determine that you won’t let your differences divide you anymore. If your marriage is struggling right now, maybe it isn’t because you are different. Maybe it’s because you are the same.
Singles, and students that are dating: Don’t look for love in all the wrong places. The last person you date is going to be the one you marry. So I want to encourage you not to waste time with anyone that is not reflecting the character of God the way you are trying to reflect the character of God. And if you are holding off on the decision to get married because you don’t want to grow up, then maybe this is an invitation to grow up.
Finally, and I know this may be super awkward. But maybe you are struggling with same sex attraction, and this has been a really hard sermon for you to hear. Please understand that God loves you. Your path to salvation is exactly the same as it is for anyone else, dealing with any other sin. Repent and believe.