God’s Design For Marriage

This is part 3 in our sermon series “Jesus in Genesis,” first preached October 1, 2017 at Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

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.”

Genesis 1:27-28

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.

  1. 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.

  1. “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!

qcassa_medium3d-4ialc32gszxgo2wml6osynzp4zmxeaplSam 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.

  1. “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.

 

Friday Round-Up: What I’ve Read This Week

Why Was This the Theme this Week?

For some reason, the theme of many of the blogs I follow seems to have been “Ministers and Moral Failure” this week. Here’s a few of the guys I keep up with:

  • Pastor, author, and blogger Tim Challies wrote an insightful post on the unwritten rule that a ministry leader can return to public life a year after a moral failure. As he says, more often than not, a year is not long enough.
  • Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, also wrote on ministers and moral failure in his straight-to-the-point post, “The Four Most Common Acts of Stupidity that Get Pastors Fired.
  • Finally (on this topic, at least) Chuck Lawless from Southeastern Seminary wrote about what his strategy would be for taking a ministry down in a post titled “If I Were The Devil.” (Side note– when your last name is Lawless, you should think twice about writing from the devil’s perspective. Just sayin’)

Should you read these if you aren’t a minister? Absolutely. As a layperson, you need to have your pastor’s back. Sometimes that means speaking common sense into his life if you see unhealthy patterns in the way he approaches ministry.

Tips for Sunday School Leaders

Not everything I came across this week was on the subject of moral failure in ministry. Here’s some great articles on leadership for Sunday School teachers and leaders:

  • My former boss at LifeWay, Ken Braddy, wrote a great post this week on Sunday School and Small Groups Side By Side. I was privileged to attend a day-long training session with Ken and small group guru Rick Howerton on this topic a couple of years ago. It is a refreshing reminder that a church doesn’t have to choose either one model of ministry or the other.
  • Arranging Your Room to be Guest Friendly This is a helpful, practical post from sundayschoolleader.com.
  • Job Description: Sunday School Class Member Care Leader Other than the teaching of God’s Word, there is not a more important function of a Sunday School class than to minister and care for its members. One of my mentors in ministry always said, “People go where they know they’re prepared for and cared for.” Caring for your class is a crucial component of effective Sunday School Ministry.

Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

qcassa_medium3d-4ialc32gszxgo2wml6osynzp4zmxeaplThis short little book (only 91 pages) is part of the Questions Christians Ask series by The Good Book Company. Allberry, writing from the perspective of someone who deals with sam sex attraction, presents an uncompromising theological perspective (acting on homosexual feelings is a sin) but with compassion for the person who is struggling. It is well worth the day or two it would take you to read.

 

Just For Fun

ESPN Launches Fantasy Preaching Software Finally, this one just made me laugh. My nephew Brandon sent me this. Since both his uncles are pastors, he got a kick out of this article from The Babylon Bee (which, by the way, is THE go-to source for Christian satire on the web)

ESPN Screen cap

 

Jealous With a Godly Jealousy

Pastors, do you love your church like a father loves his daughter?

givingawaythebride-700x4661This week, I met with a young couple for our third premarital counseling session. We are at the point in the counseling process where we are scripting out the ceremony itself. So we started talking about what the father of the bride will say when he gets to the end of the aisle. You know the drill: the minister says, “Who presents this woman to be married to this man?” And the father, sometimes with tears in his eyes, responds, “Her mother and I.” He lifts the veil on his daughter, kisses her on the cheek, places her hands in the hands of her groom, and steps back. And in that moment, he probably prays that he has done everything he can to prepare his princess for this moment, not to mention for the lifetime that follows.

This image was on my mind this morning as I read 2 Corinthians 11:

I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (NIV)

I’ve read these words from Paul quite a few times. But when they came up again this morning in my read-through-the-Bible plan, they felt more fresh–more urgent, than they had on previous readings.  I think that’s because this is the first time I’ve read them as a senior pastor.

Paul planted the church in Corinth some time around AD 50-51 (you can read about it in Acts 18 ). He watched it grow and flourish. 2 Corinthians was written about five years later. Paul had heard reports that the church was being torn apart by false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13) who were assaulting Paul’s character, sowing discord among the believers, and teaching false doctrine. They were questioning  his integrity (2 Corinthians 1:15-17), his speaking ability (2 Corinthians 10:1011:6), and his unwillingness to accept support from the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:7-912:13). There were also some people who had not repented of their sinful behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). (Thanks to gotquestions.org for this summary)

So in chapters 10-12, Paul gets about as personal as he ever gets as he pours out his heart for this “problem child” church. Sometimes he sounds like a jealous husband, defending himself to his wayward wife. Or at least, that’s how he’s sounded in previous readings.

But this morning, I read Paul’s words not as a jealous husband, but as a father who wants to present his daughter to her groom as a pure, spotless bride. Verse 2 is key: Paul is jealous with a ‘godly jealousy’ because he, the father of the bride, has promised the church to one husband–Christ.

51tor5erg6l-_sy300_This is the heart a pastor ought to have for the church he leads. Think about all the cliches of a protective father with a teenage daughter. Ask yourself, do you love your church in the same way? Here’s my gut check for how well I am loving my church. Understand, I’ve always been a little squeamish about pastors who talk possessively about “their” church. But then I go back to the “my daughter” analogy, and it makes sense. So bear with me as I talk about “my” church:

  • Am I aware of my responsibility in preparing my church to meet her groom? Am I teaching her to discern right doctrine from false doctrine? In the same way a father helps his daughter learn how a man should treat a lady, a pastor needs to help his church discern truth from error.
  • Am I as concerned for her reputation in the community as a father is concerned for his daughter’s reputation in the high school?
  • Do I pay attention to the books people in my church are reading? Even (maybe even especially) the “Christian” or “inspirational” ones?
  • Am I diligent about the quality of small group teaching in my church? Do I know what’s being studied in small groups the way the father of a teenaged daughter knows where she is on Friday night?
  • Am I concerned for their physical safety? This relates to the church’s policies and procedures regarding background checks, supervision, transportation, and so forth.

Pastors, what else would you add to this list?

Lord Jesus, help me love my church, which is truly your church, with a godly jealousy. I pray for the day I can present her to you, her Groom, a spotless, pure, and perfect. 

From Your Pastor: Week of September 17

James smilingAs I write this, I am reflecting on our first day together. What an amazing time of worship we had on Sunday! Guys, there were a lot of people here. I mean, a lot. I know that there were a lot of people who were just kind of test driving the new guy, but here’s the thing: we need to expect new people. We need to expect lost people. Not because we have a new pastor, but because we have a Savior who has come to “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). The Father is drawing people to His son (John 6:44). We shouldn’t be surprised when they come to our doors.

With that in mind, there’s some things I would love to see us do as a church that will help us be more outward focused:

  1. If you are a Sunday school teacher, keep the seats closest to the door available for first time guests. People who don’t know our building very well will take a little bit more time to find their way to class, especially if they have children to check in. So make sure they can slip in without having to walk through the middle of your circle.
  2. Speaking of Sunday School teachers, plan on getting to your class first. And do your best not to still be getting your material set up as people are arriving. You want to be able to give your full attention to guests as they are coming in.
  3. In the worship service, consider sliding to the middle of the pew to make room for guests on the ends.
  4. Say hello! Introduce yourself! Sometimes we are afraid to do that because we are worried that the person we are introducing ourselves to is a member of the church we’re supposed to know. If you’re worried about that, then just stand next to Trish and me. We don’t know anybody yet, so you can learn their names when we introduce ourselves!
  5. If you have not been coming to prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, please make it a priority. Thom Rainer, in his book Autopsy of a Deceased Church, points out that one thing churches that have closed their doors all had in common is that they rarely prayed together. Glynwood is a praying church! Let’s never lose sight of that!

We are heading into some amazing days as a church. And I am so blessed to be your pastor! Please let me know how I can be praying for you. My church email address is gbcseniorpastor@knology.net.

Joy in the Journey,

james

Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer

Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours AliveAutopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive by Thom S. Rainer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book that is made to be read with a group. As an individual, I could read it and say, “Hmmm… Interesting.” But a group reading it together could say “This is revolutionary.” Or “This is scary.” Or, most importantly, “This is us, and here’s what we need to do about it.” Dr. Rainer is a qualified “forensic pathologist” when it comes to churches. He has seen enough churches in various stages of decline to be able to speak with authority on when a church is in the death spiral. If you are wondering whether or not you should read this book as a church leadership team, then do this: look at your church’s average worship attendance over the past five years. If you aren’t growing, or if your pace of growth is less than the growth of your community, then you need to read this book together. Pure and simple. And the keyword is “together.” If you as a pastor are the only one that reads it, you will have wasted your time. A sense of urgency has to be shared if anything is to change.

View all my reviews