[The following is taken from a sermon submitted by Alan Morrison, Pastor of Parish of the Valleys Second Opequon Presbyterian Church – editor]
Genesis 2: 22-24 22Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23The 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.” 24For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. NIV
Matthew 19: 3-7 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4″Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ 5and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” 7″Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” NIV
I read a letter to the editor where the writer said that there was no definition of marriage in the Bible. This writer is correct in the sense that the term marriage is not defined in a strict Webster’s Dictionary format. If you do go to Webster’s, you will find: a) the state of being married, b) the mutual relation of husband and wife, c) the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. This all seems perfectly clear from a secular view and there is even a clearer view from the Bible. I intend to look at just a couple of points in Scripture to make the point to assist you in developing a true understanding of marriage and not to become dependent on what the world is attempting to force upon us.
Our text from Genesis today is the second half of the creation of humanity. The first half was God creating Adam of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. If you are familiar with the creation stories from Genesis, God “spoke” all things into being; the heavenly bodies and the land and vegetation and all the beasts. Yet when God created man, God chose an entirely different method. Almost like children playing in the mud, God scooped a handful of dirt and formed it into a creature in our image, in our likeness. Could God have simply “spoken” man into being? Of course He could, but humanity was to be something different than the beasts of the field, there is to be a special relationship between this creation and God, this creation will possess a soul, the very breath of God.
That Adam was formed of the dust is very significant. Arthur Pink in The Total Depravity of Man, [writes] this was done to “teach man his humble origin and dependence upon God.” With the breath of God came reason and intellect and also free will. The more competent we feel in our own abilities, the more we need to be reminded of our total and absolute dependence on God. This is where humanity is failing miserably in today’s world. We feel we have become so smart and knowledgeable that we no longer need God or gods. Max Lucado puts humanity in the terms, “You, a bipedal ape? Chemical fluke? Atomic surprise? By no means. You bear the very breath of God. He exhaled himself into you, making you a “living being.”” We have lost our way and can only be saved by returning to God.
From verse 22, Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man. Have you ever wondered why God choose a different method to make Eve than He used in creating Adam? This has nothing to do with one sex being superior over the other. Do not let feminism enter into any discussion about relationship with God. It just doesn’t fit. It may be important in discussing relationship with other people, but never with God. Did God simply run out of breath? Was God unable to re-create a suitable creature? With God, there is always a reason and there is always a purpose. Pink explains it as, “God choose this mode of making the woman, instead of forming her also out of the dust, to express the intimate union which was to take place between the sexes, to denote their mutual relation and dependence, and to sow the superiority of humanity.”
Adam declares upon seeing Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman, ‘for she was taken out of man.” In Acts 17, Luke expresses it as of one blood. The relationship between man and woman is to be special, not only in the physical lust of the beasts, but of a complete union of body and spirit. This is what leads Jesus to say from Matthew 19, and the two will become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one. This is taken quite literally from the concluding verse of our Genesis selection, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Even though the word “marriage” is not used, that word itself comes very much later in history, but the definition of the relationship is made quite clear. This union creates in itself a complete new unit of humanity, the family. We have the core or nuclear family of husband, wife and children, but retain also the extended family we all treasure so much. Of important note here, the primary family is the core family for this is where we have the very special part of God’s purpose in creation.
In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus is asked a difficult question by the Pharisees about divorce to try and trap Jesus into making a statement they could use against Him. The skeptics of Christian marriage will claim this passage is about divorce and not marriage, but Jesus uses this apparent trap to make very profound statements. To define the negative of a relationship, you must first define it is positive terms. Before you can state what is allowable for divorce, you must clarify what was God’s purpose for marriage.
In the thought process of the Pharisees, the hundreds of rules and regulations created by the priests carried as much weight as scripture. This is the same error we are making today. Jesus doesn’t fool around with all the man-made regulations, but goes “Back to Genesis”, to the very beginning before humanity had the opportunity to make changes and create impressions as to what God “really meant” when He spoke. To understand God’s intention, we need to focus on God’s Word. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ 5and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” In these verses, Jesus reaffirms God’s intention for relationship among humans. Men and women are to marry together and form a very special relationship that provides for children and the support and proper raising of children. This is the very foundation not only of marriage but of society as well. Since the Pharisees were asking about divorce, Jesus closes with the fact that divorce was not a desire of God but a practical compromise due to human frailty.
Human beings are not perfect. We have problems and issues and I don’t personally know of one person who has lived a perfect, error free life. Sometimes we have to make adjustments and move forward. The goal should always be found in our focus on Christ and Christ like living. We will not always live as we had hoped but we should always strive to live in a way that our life on earth will end with a new beginning in heaven.
The fine point of this should be clear. God’s definition of marriage is very specific and is also defined by the numerous stories found in the Bible of human error and its effects and the continuing conversation of right living in a martial sense. But we are being told that we are misunderstanding what God means, or that Jesus is love and we should celebrate love no matter where else types of love are condemned as being outside of God’s plan. This is clearly what Jesus had to contend with in His ministry as the religious leaders had made a hodge-podge of rules and regulations that had no founding in scripture or truth. Man-made regulations and interpretations had taken over and in many cases replaced the Word of God. We fight the same battle today where we are being continually told we must change to the morals of the world and not the world to the morals of God.
We live in troubling times. Much of what we have always considered sacred is now being ridiculed. Truth is a factor of convenience and personal belief instead of indisputable fact. What are we to do? We should prepare ourselves by learning God’s Word, discovering the Truth and be able to defend these. We should be active in life as Christians, never in an offensive way and always in love, but firmly standing in the truth of God. Much of what has happened in the world has occurred because many of faith simply stood idly by and allowed those who oppose God to have the only say. For every Godly person who does not vote, the un-Godly persevere. When you do vote or make choices, make sure you understand what the implication of your choice will be. In Genesis 3, the next chapter, we find Eve and the serpent, where the serpent beguiles Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. This was the original sin, the fall of humankind, because of disobedience to a direct command of God. But more to the situation of today, Eve chose to listen to Satan and not God! We and the world must always listen to God! Do not believe what a person says, but concern yourself with how they live and behave. Actions speak louder than words. Trust in God, but don’t wait for God to act for you. You may be the very tool God has chosen to act through. In the name of God the Father, Jesus Christ our Risen Lord and the Holy Spirit, Amen.