God's Gift of Marriage

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Cor. 13:14)

ADD DIVORCE TO THE LIST OF THINGS MILLENNIALS ARE KILLING! is how the headline read. The article went on to enumerate the many things that those mighty, mighty Millennials are accused of killing. Things like fast food, Applebee’s, premarital sex, and mayonnaise are all things Millennials are killing and now they have set their dastardly sights on divorce. But, there is a caveat, just like with the decline of premarital sex.

Premarital sex has declined amongst Millennials while at the same time porn consumption has drastically risen. All that has happened is one false relationship has been replaced by another. So, what is the caveat with the divorce rate drop with Millennials? From the article:

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"Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing," Cohen told Bloomberg. Couples are waiting until they're more economically stable to marry, and some poorer Americans might not marry at all, the study suggests.
"The trends described here represent progress toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality," Cohen writes.
-USA Today (Add Divorce to the List of Things Millennials are Killing, Sept. 29, 2018)

We are becoming a society that sees marriage as simply a luxury for the rich! Study after study has proven that the most stable relationship there is, is marriage. Do you see? Do you understand what is being said here? The generation of Pastor Ross, of your children or your children’s children, believe that a stable, loving relationship built on trust and commitment is a luxury only the rich and well educated can afford. Knock me over with a feather, that is dumb. More importantly, it is sinister and evil.

In the beginning, God looked at his creation and saw it was not good. It wasn’t good, desirable, pleasing or joyous for God to see the man isolated and alone. While there may be blessings for short periods of solitude, God designed people to be in relationship. Your brain is hardwired for intense personal relationships, whether romantic or familial. It is hardwired for community. And, it is hardwired for a relationship with God. There are multiple studies that show these three things.

So God caused this first man to go into a deep sleep and performed a very special operation where he removed one of his ribs, closed up the flesh, and then fashioned another being from that rib and brought her to the man. What a wonderful picture - the first One to give the bride away was God himself! And the man wasn’t disappointed! He showed his delight at God’s handiwork and announced her to be the perfect match for him because she comes from the same bone and flesh. His name for her beautifully describes their match as he acknowledges she came from his own body.

Note that God didn’t make woman from a bone in the man’s head so the woman should rule over the man or so she should nag at him until he gives up; and neither did God make woman from the man’s feet so that the woman should be trampled on or taken for granted by the man.

Instead, God made the woman from the man’s side to be his match and to stand by his side as his equal. God made woman from the man’s side, from a rib which was close to his heart, so that a woman belongs in that same place; protected under his arm and close to his heart.

To expand on this and what this means for us; while there is a biblical priority and order in marriage, this has often been misinterpreted to mean the woman is to submit completely to the man as if he’s the boss and she’s his slave. But the woman isn’t just to be a passive helper who cleans and washes and attends the man’s every desire. That’s not the type of helper or partner God intended.

Unfortunately, some men have wrongly used or abused women, but this is a corruption of his role in the relationship and by doing this, he sins against the woman and God. Similarly, a woman who seeks to gain control or authority over a man through shameful gossip or emotional manipulation, would also be sinning against him and God. If you are in a relationship where abuse takes place, get out. This sermon is not an admonishment to stay in a dangerous place. Get to a safe place, get help, please.

Getting back to Scripture, many years after Moses wrote Genesis, God used Paul to explain how marriage is an image of Christ and His church. This is where the problem of marriage being a luxury becomes downright evil. If we say that marriage is a luxury for only the rich, then we are saying that Christ’s love and sacrifice is only for the rich and well educated. That God’s favor only rest on those with earthly material blessings and not on anybody else.

Don’t misunderstand something here. Nobody is accusing Millennials (or any other human) of actively thinking this and so avoiding marriage. Nobody is trying to make a theological statement as a group or generation by getting or not getting married. Ephesians 6 points out, “12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Do not think that the devil is not behind this lie that marriage is only for the privileged few.

For Christ came for all. He came for the bad husbands, the bad wives, the terrible boyfriends and the crazy ex-girlfriends. He came for sinners, people desperate for a salvation they didn’t even know they needed. People who were estranged to love, unfamiliar with commitment, and thought trust was only for fools and suckers. You see, Christ came for you and for me. He came for the Millennials and all their mayonnaise killing, too (Pastor Ross does not like mayonnaise by the way, so number him with those Millennials).

God has created us to be together. He has created us to be with Him. We screwed it up, which gives us bad marriages and broken families. But, God has sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin and repent of it.

 By Juan de Juanes, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23065137

By Juan de Juanes, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23065137

Married, single, divorced, widowed, the blood of Jesus washes your guilt and shame away. Through faith in Jesus Christ, the abuser and the abused are forgiven and cleansed before God. As Jesus forgives you, hate and fear is replaced by love and trust. By the power of God’s forgiveness for you, you’re able to forgive each other. Through the love and forgiveness of Christ working within marriages, those who currently experience tension, anxiety, bitterness, and defilement, can receive healing, cleansing, reconciliation, and restoration.

It’s sad there are some who don’t get to experience marriage at all, no matter how much they desire it, and it’s also sad those who do marry don’t experience marriage as God first intended. However, both married people and single people do get the opportunity to experience the love and faithfulness of Christ for his bride through the church. This is one union we can’t break because it totally relies on Jesus Christ who remains faithful so that we may never be alone.

For those who are married, may God bless your marriage, so it may reflect some of the love between Christ and his church. For those who are single, widowed, or divorced, may God bless you, so you know you’re never truly alone and that you’ll experience the love of Christ for you through the community of the church.

In Christ, Amen.