Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Why Does God Care About Marriage, Part I: He Gave It From the Beginning

In Church Life, Culture, Sermons on July 1, 2008 at 5:00 am

This coming Friday, July 4th, represents the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We live in a country founded on the notion of what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, that our Creator endowed us with the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What is not well known is that this can only work if people were disciplined with a significant moral code. As a result in our day, people are looking to whatever, saying they have the liberty to pursue whatever lifestyle makes them happy.

Of late, that “pursuit of happiness” has been to try and redefine the definition of marriage. In essence, they say that marriage is just a social construct that society has enforced on people for generations. David Graham Cooper, a British physician, believed in the 1960s that we should just do away with the family because it was how British and western culture spread their empire. In the 70s, Kate Millet believed the family must go due to how it enslaved women. In the 90s, homosexual activists seek to redefine marriage because the “traditional” view is too narrow.

Look with me at Matthew 19:3-4

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?

The Pharisees were trying to test Jesus’ knowledge of the Bible — for the Bible does address this issue. So Jesus puts this line of argument right back on them: “Have you not read …?” You see, the Scriptures show that God had marriage in mind “from the beginning.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, doesn’t it? God had this in mind even before the world began and would serve as a core fabric in our society. Marriage is not a social construct, it is a spiritual contract exclusively between “male and female.” So when you hear about people who are trying to redefine marriage, I want to tell you that this institution is not theirs to redefine. It’s God’s.

Also notice this. One of the arguments from homosexual activists is that Jesus never addresses homosexuality. He is silent on the matter, they say. What they look for is Jesus to come out and say, “Children, homosexuality is a sin.” Yet, in this passage he does address it: he “made them male and female.” He’s talking about marriage, then addresses that marriage is made of male and female. Do we really need to say anything more? Jesus said plenty.

But on a more basic level, does this not truly open our eyes to the seriousness of marriage? It is the first institution that God created. It should not be entered into lightly (and given the nature of the vows expressed at weddings, it is understood that this is a solemn union), but it should never be exited lightly as well. But given how so many in our culture have experienced this devastating trend of leaving. Many enter into it lightly, and leave lightly as well. May we see the seriousness with which Jesus approaches marriage in his ordained way.

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Why Does God Care About Marriage? (Introduction)

In Church Life, Culture, Family, Homosexuality, Sermons on June 30, 2008 at 7:39 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, June 29, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

This morning, we find ourselves dealing with a very difficult topic. Right up front, I want to tell you this: I have committed to what’s called expository preaching. What that means is, a commitment to preaching through particular books or portions of the Bible as they are arranged by the Holy Spirit. Why do I do this? For one, I want to follow Paul’s dual commands to “preach the Word” and to preach the whole counsel of God. As a result of this, I will guard against the tendency of my own flesh to skip over passages that may been seen as overly controversial. This has happened a number of times, and God has always blessed and honored our times together because we have preached and received his Word, no matter how difficult.

This morning, as God’s providence would demand, we will be talking about “Why Does God Care About Marriage?” So if you would, turn with me to Matthew 5:31-32:

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32, ESV).

Jesus here deals with this area with a great deal of seriousness. And by and large, the church of Jesus Christ has dealt with this seriously as well. But there are ways to deal with something seriously. How so?

In this area, our breed of churches tends to deal with the doctrine of marriage and divorce seriously. We hold the authority of God’s Word seriously and with great gravity. But for all too many, they would say they love God but the love of neighbor is decidedly missing. As a result, someone who holds to God’s commands seriously metes out judgment on those who do not. There is a risk of coming at this with such moral superiority in this area that no one looks deeper.

There’s another way to look at it seriously. You can look at this in a way that balances the clear commands of Christ with loving and showing compassion on those who are victims of divorce. We must not only take God’s Word with determined seriousness, but also take those whom he created seriously. Paul’s exhortation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) cannot be ignored or dismissed.

Some of you sitting in this place have gone through the horrors and the pain of divorce. On the pain scale, divorce actually is more painful than any other event or experience — even more so that the death of a loved one. Some of you may have initiated the divorce because of marital unfaithfulness or even abuse on the part of your spouse. Our hearts break for you, for there is nothing worse than losing the trust of one you love. Some of you may have initiated this because you felt you didn’t love your spouse anymore. My prayer is that you will see that love is not relegated to a feeling but to a commitment, a steadfast love in much the same way that Christ steadfastly loves his church. Some of you here may be the victim of a divorce — you tried and tried and did everything you could, but they refused to. Our hearts go out to you and we pray you will come to Christ for healing and cling to him as your all in all, as one who will never leave you nor forsake you.

The point of this sermon is not, “Four Ways to Have a Happy Marriage,” but is this: how can Christ be Lord of my life even when all around me may try to take control of my heart and mind? And given this, why does God care about our marriages? What are they about? Are they just civil contracts dictated by the state, or is there a connection with the soul as well?

(Tomorrow: God Gave Marriage From the Beginning)