Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Have Experienced An Act of God

How do you let someone know you have something important to tell them? Do you try to preface what you are about to say, or do you jump right into it? As a Christian, husband and a father, I find myself in this very predicament. I have something important to tell you, my reading audience; but I want to be sure to have your full attention because what I have to say today means a lot to me. 

There are sermons, and there are sermons that stick with you. This past Lord’s Day morning, one of our elders preached a sermon that had a profound impact on me and my wife. James preached from Matthew 19:1-6,
When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there. Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 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’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Having heard Dr. White preach on this text a few times already, I thought I was prepared for what I was about to hear. Little did I know that this would turn out to be my favorite sermon. 
James sought to answer the question of why Christians believe marriage is what it is. Early on he directly addressed those ages 12-25, during which my wife and I smiled at each other because we can no longer be included in that age-group =). He spoke to this age-group because according to some polls 70% of their generation believes same-sex marriage is an acceptable form of marriage. Is it any wonder that many are saying it is inevitable that all 50 states will soon legalize same-sex marriage? You know something … unless our youngest generation has a change of heart I would have to agree with that statement. 
I don’t want to discount God’s ability to change the culture, or to change the spiritual condition of an entire generation. Without the Lord’s intervention it appears these things are bound to happen. James was not trying to be an alarmist; after all, this is the discussion happening now in our society. 
Our culture demands that we embrace the idea that all opinions are equal. But for the Christian this is impossible because we know not all opinions are equal. Oh sure, everyone has a right to his own perspective, but the Christian cannot accept that there is more than one correct view of marriage. God has spoken clearly in His Word about what marriage is, and we need to be ready and willing to give a defense when the opportunity arises. Matthew 19 is a remarkable selection from Scripture because Jesus is asked a ridiculous question and responds with a beautiful defense of what marriage is. 
This gem of a question is what prompts the entire discussion:Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” Isn’t that lovely? Can we get divorced for any reason at all? Christ’s brilliant response directs the questioner back to the source of truth: the Scriptures. Might I suggest that this should be our approach as well. When we encounter non-Christians on the subject of marriage we should be quick to go to the Scriptures. 
Jesus then cites from Genesis 1 and 2, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 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’?” From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This was a part of God’s creative design for human beings. He created gender, and it was good. 
A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife in marriage. It is worth mentioning, a man does not leave his father and father, or mother and mother. He leaves his father and mother, indicating the truth that from one generation to another marriage remains the same. 
Today, the amount of gender confusion is disturbing! We hear stories of parents allowing their young children to undergo sex-change operations because they believe their physical gender is not their true identity. The two genders are equal in value but not equal in identity. Male is not the equivalent of the female gender – but you best be careful because saying this in our society will reward you with accusations of hate speech. How sad it is that our culture fails to recognize men and women are different – equal but not the same. 
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Who is it that becomes one flesh in marriage? One man and one woman. This is a divine institution … the first divine institution, in fact. But what we are hearing today is the cry that everyone should have the right to marry whomever they wish! Do they really mean that? Can and should marriage mean whatever anyone wants it to mean, or does it have an inherent meaning derived from the Creator? 
Absurd as it sounds, there are men who would marry multiple women, women who would marry multiple men, same-sex marriages, human beings marrying animals, adults marrying children, incestuous marriages, and other variations that I am unable to imagine. Should our approach be, “Well, if that’s how they want to do marriage, that’s fine”? The Christian cannot have this attitude. God is the Creator of human beings, of gender, and of marriage. 
Any change from God’s design relating to gender identity or marriage can only bring about disastrous results. We saw what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah … can we expect anything different for America if we continue down this path? 
By the goodness of our God we have a breathtaking message to share with this lost and dying world. The Christian who is married has such an opportunity to explain the message of Christ because we have experienced an act of God. As a man who is married to a godly and beautiful woman, I can personally attest to how wonderful it is to experience Christian marriage. Both the man and the woman have differing impacts upon the other, but both are complementary toward one another. I have experienced the tempering affects of a woman upon me – how I spend my time, my outlook on life, making me less selfish, and the desire to be a better man. 
This kind of relationship cannot be accomplished with two members of the same sex. Well … why? Because it is like having a relationship with a mirror. A mirror-image of yourself is not a complementary relationship. Can’t a same-sex couple love each other, and shouldn’t they be able to marry? God is the Creator and sustainer of life, so He alone has the right to define what love is and how it is to be expressed. He clearly says in the Bible that men and women were created to marry, and not 2 of the same gender. 
Should Christians live and let live, and keep their mouths shut? Consider this: how is it loving to see our friends, family and coworkers living a devastating homosexual lifestyle and not offer to show them the God-designed way to happiness and peace? 
James made one final point that I want to pass along: when our society sees Christian couples married for 20 … 30 … 40 years, this is a wonderful testimony of Jesus Christ. It is a living, breathing demonstration of God’s goodness in marriage and ultimately of the saving power of the gospel. My prayer for myself and my wife (grammar alert?) is that we might have marriages as long-lasting as each of our parents, who have set this godly example. 
Christians today have opportunities to share the gospel, as we have throughout the ages – today, these opportunities might stem from conversations about the goodness of God in marriage. Always be ready.

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