Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

Mohler and Miller Debate the Bible’s Message on Gay Marriage

In Culture, Homosexuality on December 16, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Lisa Miller’s recent Newsweek cover story (December 15, 2008) on “The Bible and Gay Marriage” created a gigantic stir.  If Newsweek was having issues with magazine sales, I am sure that was remedied with this latest issue.  Miller contends:

While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else’s —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. “Marriage” in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God’s will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.

In this paragraph, Miller gives away the store with her own ideology that is imposed on the Scriptures.

For one, she believes the “Bible is a living document” rightly saying that the Bible has spoken to generations, but missing that the Bible is living and active because the God who inspired it is still living and active, and He does not change.

For two, she brings into it an “American” notion that marriage (notice that she puts “marriage” in quotes) is a civil institution. Ron Paul rightly noted in his “Revolution: A Manifesto” that marriage was not seen as a civil institution in this country until the early 1900’s, a relatively recent development.

Thirdly, she fails to interact with Jesus’ words about marriage being between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-10), which is consistent with what Genesis notes in Genesis 1:26-27. Plus, Jesus does condemn lust (Matthew 5:27-30) which is yearning sexually for another outside of God’s boundaries of marriage. He created it, He defines what it is.

Fourthly, she sees marriage as a merely utilitarian contract rather than a God-ordained covenant that is clearly outlined in Scripture. Yet, if one approaches the Scriptures looking for a rationalization for something they wish to see, they will use that paradigm to filter out and justify away that which does not fit their scheme — which is why Mormons use the KJV Bible, yet still are deviant from evangelical faith.

I recommend you listening to Albert Mohler’s interview with Lisa Miller regarding this issue.  Miller’s article is a classic case of building up a straw man, then tearing it down.  Even so, Miller’s article will fail to sway those who hold to the Scriptures as the truth of God’s Word. 

More on this in the days ahead.

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Why God Gave Us Marriage, Part III: A Portrait of Christ and His Church

In Church Life, Culture, Family on July 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

In Ephes. 5:31-32, the Apostle Paul

“’Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

We must realize that marriage gives us a portrait of Christ and his bride, the Church. Paul calls it a “mystery,” but not the type that you try to keep a secret for as long as you can, but one that you reveal at just the right time.

Again, you see why God takes this seriously. So what do we see as far as this portrait that a marriage should look like? Well, as we go through these, I pray you will not only reflect on your own personal marriage, but also look to Christ who is the perfect Husband to his bride and rejoice and praise Him for who He is and all He has accomplished.

Going back to Ephesians 5:23, we see that Christ is the head of the church. He is the spiritual authority of his people and we as his bride submit to him. He is perfectly capable of leading his church. As Christ is the head of his house, so Christ must be the head of our house — with each member submitting to him in all things.

Next, Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). This really caught me. Sometimes, the church does not seem all that lovable. All too often, we find ourselves very sporadic in our devotion to God, in our attendance, in actively engaging in our times of worship, or rarely spending time with him. But for whatever reason that I will never fully understand, he loves us. Not only does he love us but He gave himself for us. This was not just a feeling of love, but a sacrificial love that put self aside for his beloved. This is a connection we see all through Scripture: Christ loves, Christ gives (see John 3:16 among others).

Christ also nurtures the church.
Verse 26 says that he wishes to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor without sport or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Christ takes it upon himself to love his bride whom he purchased with his own blood. Verse 29 talks of how he “nourishes and cherishes” the church.

Christ leads, loves, sacrifices, and nurtures his church. In return, the church submits to this— willingly! Dear Christian, does this describe your marriage? Does it describe mine? Do we realize that our marriages, good or bad, are a portrait of Christ and his church? May God continue to open this truth up in our hearts so that our marriages would line up with His will, not with the shifting sands of the culture.

Why Does God Care About Marriage, Part II: Marriage is the Primary Bond

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Larry Cunningham in an article in Reader’s Digest a number of years ago told about the time he was visiting friends. While there, they received a telephone call from their recently married daughter. After several tense minutes on the phone, the mother told the father to pick up the extension. The newlyweds had had their first big fight. In a few moments, the father rejoined us and tersely explained, “Said she wanted to come home.” “What did you tell her?” I asked. “Told her she was home.”

Matthew 19:5-6 quotes Jesus as saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5-6). Here, Jesus quotes from Genesis 2, establishing once again that marriage is not a new institution nor simply a cultural one, but a spiritual one. It’s not just about a ‘piece of paper,’ but it’s an acknowledgment that the God of heaven has joined you together.

Each culture has struggled with the role of marriage, and they did as well in Jesus’ day. In Matthew 5:31, “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ In fact, the Pharisees bring this up in Matthew 19 when, in expressing disagreement with what Jesus said, noted, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” (Matthew 19:7). So, since this is mentioned in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19, permit me if you will to help understand.

Turn with me to Deut. 24:1-4

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

Granted, this is a heavy passage. Many have interpreted this to be a way to get out of a marriage, but this is not the case. This is dealing with the matter of adultery and how divorcing someone improperly will lead to adultery. The whole passage hinges on the understanding of a phrase found in verse 1: “he has found some indecency in her.” What is this indecency? The indecency was not adultery, because adultery was punishable by death. But it may have been some indecent act that led up to adultery that brought disgrace and betrayal upon the union. In this passage, we see not an excuse for divorce but the potential harm and evil that comes from it. It serves as a warning that divorce can bring about adultery if a marriage ever takes place.

You may say, “Well, why did God allow this, if he’s so against it?” Jesus enlightens, “Because of your hardness of heart, but it was not so from the beginning.” God gave that provision to protect women from the death penalty and to warn men not to give up on their marriages too quickly.

Now, obviously, while we do not do the death penalty for adultery in 2008, do we see any relevance? Absolutely. God put all these issues and warnings in place so we would take his institution of marriage seriously. It is not something to trivialize or trifle with. We are to leave our father and mother and to join with our spouses so the two will become one flesh! Jesus says in Matthew 5:32, “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.” Why sexual immorality? Because the trust and the bond has been shattered. Does God want us to reconcile, if possible? Absolutely. Is it difficult if not next to impossible under those circumstances? Believe it!

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.

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)

A Great Way To Propose (Congratulations Kenneth and Kellyn)

In Church Life on May 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Kenneth and Kellyn started coming to our church about two years ago. Kenneth decided to make an “announcement” at their weekly CRU meeting.