Last week we heard God’s call to RETURN to His Way because His Way is Good! This week God calls us to return to Him because He is Faithful unlike any other kind of faithful person ever! Before we dig into Scripture, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Hosea’s Strange Choice for a Wife
Background of Hosea. Last week we read a section from 2 Kings that took place around 600 B.C. This week we are in the book of Hosea which takes place about 120 years earlier. It also doesn’t take place in country of Judah and Jerusalem, but in a sister country up north called --Israel.
A little bit about the climate of 8th century B.C. Israel. The people had gotten very into worshipping a statue called “Baal.” Baal was a ‘god’ of the neighboring nations. People worshipped Baal in a much different way than we worship the Lord today.
Instead of visiting the temple to worship the Lord, they visited Baal’s temple to worship a statue.
Instead of adopting the Ten Commandments, they had adopted the magical practices of fertility cults.
Instead of being intimate in prayer with God, they were “intimate with Baal” by being intimate with Baal’s shrine prostitutes.
Hmm…Seems like yet another situation where God needs to call his people to RETURN to Him.
Hosea is a prophet.
Hosea works for the Lord.
Hosea goes wherever God tells him to go.
Hosea does whatever God tells him to do.
Hosea is also a single young man.
He is a single young man who understood God’s plan for marriage:
That one man marries one woman and be united to that one woman for a lifetime.
He knew that such unity would be proclaimed via a public marriage ceremony and practice with exclusive intimate relations.
So…I doubt Hosea took marriage lightly.
He looks at ancient papyrus dating profile and swiped RIGHT on the women he was interested in knowing.
He took them out for dinner and watched to see if they ordered a BLT or respected his religious wish not to eat pork.
He made sure to ask them his make or break question: “Do you worship GOD or BAAL?”
And up to this point in his life --- Hosea did not have a wife!
Imagine Hosea’s excitement…when the long arduous process of finding a faithful wife for himself came to an end.
God called out to Hosea.
God had found a wife for Hosea.
God had found the perfect woman for Hosea.
He fell to his knees.
He said, “Yes, Lord! I can’t wait to meet her.”
And the Lord said:
“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her.” (1:2a)
Would you marry someone who is promiscuous? That’s a kind Bible word from someone who is sexually intimate with lots of people. Would you marry the woman who kisses 12 other boys on your first date? Would you marry the man that has text messages from 6 of his exes on his phone? Would you marry a spouse that made you think: “There’s no way that person will ever be faithful.”
You might date them.
They might be fun.
BUT...! They are NOT marriage material.
Yet the Lord told Hosea told Hosea to seek out a woman just like that.
It wasn’t his bad judgment.
It wasn’t even a few too many gin and tonics in Law Vegas.
The LORD told Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman.
Check out the answer in verse 2:
“For like an adulterous wife; this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (1:2b)
Hosea’s life is a living, breathing parable.
It’s a lifelong illustration.
It’s a picture of God’s relationship with his people of Israel.
It’s a picture of God’s relationship with his people of the Triangle.
II. The Unfaithful One
What do I mean? Take a look at chapter 2. Chapter 2 gets into the nitty gritty about how the people’s relationship is going with God. Pay attention -- Chapter 2 is going to reference a wife and a husband. At no point is it ever a reference to an actual wife and an actual husband. It is a reference to God as the husband, and his wife as his people. Look at verse 2:
“Rebuke your mother,” and mother is a reference to Israel…God’s wife. “Rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” (2:2a)
Why would God say that?
Why would God break his covenant?
A new study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships surveyed 232 people who had been cheated on. The study showed that those who were cheated reported “experiencing great bouts of depression, anxiety, and distress.” (Psypost.org)
Why is it so damaging? I think the Bible answered that a long time ago:
The Bible says that marriage is a very special relationship.
There is a very emotional promise of faithfulness at an engagement.
There is a very public commitment to faithfulness in front of family and friends.
There is the physical promise of faithfulness that exclusive sexual intimacy implies.
The promise, the commitment, the exclusivity of intimacy bonds the two together as one!
One incredible being.
What the Bible calls “One flesh.” (Genesis 2)
To break the marriage bond with unfaithfulness is to sever the marriage bond – and leave spiritual, emotional blood of that one flesh all over the floor.
Keep that in mind and listen to God’s heart for those who are unfaithful:
“Rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and her unfaithfulness.” (2:2b)
It wasn’t God who stopped being a husband.
It was his people.
Let her remove her adulterous look! Because God’s people have been flirtatious. They have been looking for other gods.
“Baal, you are so cute! And not as oppressive as the God of Israel!”
“Asherah pole, you are in style. Not stuffy and old fashioned like the Lord.”
“Dear money, you really care about me and let me do what I want. God is always lecturing me.”
“Oh pornography! You are the best thing for me; so much better than God. I wish I was with you”
“Oh lovely beer bottle. I come to you and you make everything better – unlike God – who makes me feel so uptight.”
“Mmmm. Pride. I always knew that the perfect one for me, is me!”
And these adulterous looks lead to actual unfaithfulness.
It’s not just flirting with the idea of other gods.
But being intimate with them.
The intimate desires of a heart revealed in prayer to Baal.
The intimate time of worship spent in the temple of Asherah.
The intimate trust that all will be ok – placed in a few dollar bills.
The intimate need for value discovered in digital photos where the woman gives you whatever you want when you want it.
The intimate need for comfort looked for in a bottle of PBR – and another 16 or so.
The intimate need for acceptance found in the callous embrace of one self.
Brothers and sisters, this is unfaithful Israel.
Brothers and sisters, this is unfaithful us.
And that’s harsh.
Look at what happens to those who are no longer a part of God’s family. The Bible calls them…
Stripped. Verse 3 says: I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born. Because God is the one who brings home the bacon in the relationship with his people. God is the one who provides all the physical blessings! And in the settlement between God and the people who have been unfaithful to him? He gets everything! He gets the house. He gets the home. He gets the clothing. He gets the 401K. He gets the Jaguar. He gets the Xbox. He gets it all, because He is the one who has been providing everything to begin with!
And the unfaithful? They are naked. Everyone can see their sin. Everyone can see their shame. Everyone can see their guilt.
Parched. Verse 3b says: “I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.” For Israel, it meant that God was going to send a drought on the land of Israel. They would no longer receive rain. Without rain, their crops would die. Without crops, they would no longer receive nourishment. Because God is the one who nourishes us all and God stopped nourishing them.
And…So…Consider this: What if God didn’t provide for you? Where would you be?
A soup kitchen?
Eating the old dog food at the bottom of the dumpster behind the local kennel?
TRUTH: If God didn’t provide for you, you would not be nourished.
And why would he provide for those who aren’t part of his family?
And why would He keep the unfaithful as part of His family?
Blocked. Verse six says this: “Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
When I read this verse, I get this picture of this high-ranking jaded spouse. They are high up in government. They have been scorned and publicly humiliated.
And they will get revenge.
They talk to the city officials and make it impossible for their spouse to find a job. They make it impossible for them to find a living. They see to it that – you never work in this town again!
God’s Word says that if you are unfaithful to God, you will be against him.
And He will be against you.
And there’s no way that you will win.
And to be fair, you can turn to your other lovers!
You can turn to money.
You can turn to porn.
You can turn to alcohol.
You can turn to pride.
You can turn to whatever it is that has led you to be unfaithful to God.
You can Look for your lovers…but the unfaithful one will not find them.
Do you know why?
Because these “lovers” don’t care about you.
Not at all.
And you left the only One who did love you to go after them.
(And now…I’m alone.)
The Unfaithful one.
III. The Faithful One
Then…the only thing left…is despair.
Despair and return.
The unfaithful spouse will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’
I will go back to God.
I will return to my husband.
I will return to the One who really loves me, who always provides for me and who will never leave me!
I will return to the faithful One.
And they return.
And they fall on the floor.
And with tears in our eyes, they beg for God to take us back.
They beg for one more change.
They beg for forgiveness.
Who has been wronged.
Who has been wronged repeatedly
Who has been hurt.
Who has been betrayed by the One He loved most…says:
“I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, In love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness.” (v.19-20)
If you have been unfaithful to God and you seek reconciliation with your faithful husband, hear his promise of betrothal again:
He will betroth in righteousness. Remember earlier when it talked about being without clothes and sin exposed? Not anymore! God covers up your sin and your shame. He clothes you with the impenetrable beauty of His forgiveness and the gorgeous fashion of His righteousness.
He will betroth in justice. He defends his spouse. He brings justice on his enemies. He defeats the devil. He defeats sin. He defeats death for the sake of his beloved wife.
He will betroth in love. Not just emotional, flighty Disney love, but real, tested, unconditional action love. Love that sends him to the cross. Even when we’ve been unfaithful.
He will betroth in compassion. Not lashing out – as would be understandable and as He should – but speaking…With kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness: whispering sweet nothings of HIS divine love.
He will betroth in faithfulness. Never getting “back” at you. Never getting revenge. Never being unfaithful.
Always, always, always faithfully loving you.
Every day of this life.
Every day of eternity.
Friends, hear God’s call to you today. If you have been unfaithful to Him, RETURN. Return to THE Faithful One. Amen.
I don’t know if you saw it in the hallway, but the blueprint for the new school is up. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s looks very cool.
But I’d be lying if I told you it was the first blueprint. There have been quite a few others. This is like draft 12. Walls have been added, windows widened, mini gyms made larger.
Honestly, it probably will change a few more times before all is said and done. Because times changes, thoughts changes, and needs change. Blueprints change.
But what about the family blueprint? For millennia, the family has been focused around marriage.
Should that change?
Today we’re going to examine that very question. In order to do that we’re going to need to take a look at the original blueprint found in God’s Word. Take a look at Genesis 2.
I. Where is the Original Blueprint from?
A long time ago, there was a man. He was a healthy man. He had toned muscles. A solid bone structure. He had a keen amount of self-awareness and an incredible occupation as a gardener.
He was also only one day old.
Hours earlier Adam had been created by God. God had used his hands to pile up some dust. Form together some feet. Carefully shape the abdominals. Pinch out some arms; add a head; place the appendix in the perfect spot and carefully define his eyebrows.
Then, God smiled and breathed. When God breathed, he breathed a breath that only God, the Creator can breathe. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Suddenly, the clay figurine was alive. Alive and human. He quickly became aware of his surroundings. He noticed the beautiful hanging leaves of the weeping willow. He smelled the beautiful aroma of the daffodils. He saw the gleaming red of cardinals darting from branch to branch. He investigated the little creatures that were crawling beneath a log. He looked up at the giant, glowing ball in the sky and thought, “How wonderful this world was."
It was an incredible, wonderful, big world for him to explore...
God had an idea. He would parade being after being, animal after animal in front of the man. The man would give the animals names and, if he found one of special importance, he would select that being as his partner in this world.
The man agreed and suddenly the very first parade in the history of the world was in action. (Only without the giant SpongeBob balloon). In walked alligators and aardvarks, zebra and wombats. Adam looked at swarms of bees, packs of piranha’s and a pride of lions. He rode on the horse, threw a ball for the dog, and avoided the house cat.
The man gave them all names. Sea horse for the horse that lived in the sea, flying squirrel for the squirrel that flew, and hippopotamus – for that big old creature that kind of looked like it “potamus”sed when it walked.
But, of all the animals that he saw that day and all the names that he came up with, there was one name that the man never used:
The Creator knew this. He had known the whole time. Now the man knew too. He was missing the perfect partner. A being to challenge him. A being to intelligently talk with him. A being to share the adventure of life with him.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then, the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
God brought the woman to the man. The grand finale. As Adam woke up from the divine dose of anesthesia, he blinked.
What was that beautiful creature in front of him? Her eyes were more beautiful than the flowers. Her smile radiated more beautifully than that giant orange orb thingy.
The man spoke, the very first love poem ever spoken:
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23) Look at the end of this love story. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Marriage. It’s the original blueprint.
But you might be thinking: “Pastor, c’mon. This is a myth. This isn’t real. It’s a made up story like Dr. Seuss or something.”
Look at what Jesus thought about this. “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and 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.’” (Matthew 19:4-5)
Does that sound like he treated it as a myth to you?
In fact, he’s using that verse of the Old Testament – that verse from Genesis 2:24 – to argue with the religious leaders of his time what God’s original design for marriage is.
And if you are thinking, “But why should I trust Jesus?” Allow me to give you his credentials. He knew how to bend the elements and walk on water. He knew how to control the weather and stop storms. He knew how to reduplicate matter at an alarming rate by feeding over 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. He knew how to cure the deadliest of diseases simply by speaking. He knew how to cure the most handicapping of paralyses simply by touching. He cured death when no one else ever has. He promised his disciples that he would die and come back to life…and he did.
I know many of you trust him for salvation. Do you trust him for the marriage blueprint?
Because if Jesus is right, then marriage is not just some evolved social contract that slowly came into being over time. Nope.
Marriage was invented by God.
That’s important to remember. Because Americans bristle at the sound of marriage.
It’s the Ball and Chain.
It’s a prison.
It’s signing your death certificate.
But...that can’t be true. Not if God invented it. Because we’re talking about God here. Not just God – but the name used to define God here is very specific. It’s YAHWEH. That’s important, because it’s the name of the covenant God. It’s the name of the God who promised to send a Savior. It’s the God who kept his promise and sent a Savior. It’s the name of the God who loved his beings so much that he would never, ever give them anything bad.
A while back the preschoolers were in charge of drawing a picture of a house. Let me tell you, as nice as those pictures were, if you followed those blueprints – the house would be a disasters. Windows as big as each room. A room made of squiggles. No door to be found anyway. Sitting on top of what appeared to be a jagged cliff.
God’s not a preschooler. His marriage blueprint comes form a loving heart and an all knowing mind.
II. Examining the Blueprint
Keep that in mind. Let’s look at that blueprint. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”
Now if you have been paying attention to life within the last couples hundred years, you’d notice that society has kind of reinvented that. They’ve kind of written that statement. In a three different ways.
This is the easiest one. God said that marriage is for “a man and his wife.” How many people is that? Simple math says two. One man and one wife.
Take Sister Wives. Have you ever seen it? It’s a reality show all about the Browns – Kody, the husband, and Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn. His four wives. Guess what? It doesn’t always go well. There’s a lot of jealousy between wives. They all vie for his attention and fight for time with him. Go figure, huh!?! Julianna thinks it’s hard enough to get my attention when a Packer game is on.
Having more than one spouse or polygamy is not godly. It’s simply not a part of God’s blueprint.
And…I don’t think that any of you are struggling with that. You only have one spouse – and most of society agrees there is only two names on the marriage certificate.
But this also means that there should be only two names enjoying the perks of marriage. There’s only one other name that you sleep with, one name that you flirt with, one name you are intimate with. There’s only one other person you should be staring at without clothes on!
Don’t let society fool you. The blueprint needs to remain the same to be a godly marriage. Marriage and all of its perks need to be between two people.
Now that’s the least touchy. Let’s jump to the most touchy.
“A man…will be united to his wife.” Wife is a Hebrew word that refers to the female person in a spousal relationship. It means a woman.
And notice that it stopped there. There aren’t any other caveats. No footnotes. No other options. It doesn’t say “A woman …will be united to her wife,” nor does it say, “a man will be united to his husband.” That’s not a part of God’s original blueprint.
Still the Supreme Court has now ruled that it is legal for same sex couples to get married in America. State governments are not allowed to withhold that social contract from them. Fair enough.
But if the government has changed the definition of marriage, does that mean God’s definition has?
In fact, remember that passage from Matthew? Jesus affirmed marriage to be between two different genders. That’s huge! Because he’s the one who rose from the dead. He’s the one who promises us forgiveness of sins. He’s the one who we believe will take us to eternal life.
Shouldn’t we also believe him on marriage?
In light of recent horrible, tragic events in Orlando, please allow a caveat.I am not telling you to shoot people who disagree. I’m not telling you to attack them. I’m not telling you to bomb them, hurt them, harm them, or even call them names. I am not advocating violence in anyway – nor is Jesus.
But I am saying that God hasn’t changed the blueprint.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” It doesn’t specifically state a length of time. But because it doesn’t specifically state a length of time, the implication is that there isn’t set period of time.
Jesus himself affirms this in Matthew. He says, “Two become one flesh. One God has joined together let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
In fact, that’s the very reason the Pharisees were talking to Jesus in the first place. They wanted to know if God was cool with them separating from one another for any and every reason. “Because I’m bored.” “Because it’s not as romantic as it used to be.” “Because I like someone else.” “Because we grew apart.”
Jesus’ answer? No. Unless it’s because of (1) sexual unfaithfulness – which is basically divorce or (2) abandonment – because if the person just gets up and leaves you, it’s kinda hard to stay married to him – unless your marriage has already been physically broken up, then Jesus isn’t cool with divorce.
You might be asking Why?
I went to kindergarten in Minnesota. In kindergarten, we had one hour recesses. I remember spending an hour making a snow fort. It had tunnels. It had windows. It had a kitchen and a video game room. It was good work.
Then, the bell rang. The class bully immediately started trashing it!
I was upset. He destroyed my work.
If you break apart your marriage, God will be upset. You destroyed his work. Unlike me as a kindergartner, God doesn’t do meh work. God’s work is wonderful. You’ll have destroyed his wonderful work.
It'll hurt much more than God. In fact, God isn’t issuing this command to stay married because he wants you to suffer. No way. He is issuing this command because he doesn’t want you to suffer. He wants you remain one flesh – not to rip apart and cause all kinds of spiritual and emotional bleeding.
That's why he put this blueprint into his Word. Because The Word of God endures forever! (1 Peter)
And thank God it does.
Because we’re human. We’ve completely messed this up. God gave us a blueprint – he asked us to follow it – we’ve messed it up. No one has a perfect marriage – and because of that – you’ve probably seen the results of messing this up:
Tears. Wall of tension. Kids locking themselves in their room. Trust evaporated.
Is there any help?
Check out Ephesians 5:31-32 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
How cool is that? Jesus says that he is the groom and you are his bride. A bride he was willing to do anything for in order to keep you married to him.
And I do mean anything. Things like:
Jesus died to make you one with Him – you and Him – completely together in righteousness.
Jesus’ resurrection was your wedding day – the day he took you, his beautifully robed bride to be his forever.
Jesus made that promise to you – intimately – to make his love for you and no one else.
Jesus promises to be with you forever and let nothing get in the way.
It means He forgives you.
Knowing that Jesus has made us his forever and living in His forgiveness for messing up the blueprint…what now? Two things:
But our love is strong.
That’s not love! Love is an action. God is love. Love is following God’s will for marriage. Love is doing what God does and being faith forever.
Instead of discouraging, encourage. Encourage friends to be married. Listen to their struggles; offer Godly advice. Recommend a good book. Pray for them. Give them an anniversary card.
Model a good marriage.
Because we need it. There’s enough Kim Kardashians in this world. Young married couples need good role models to follow. In fact, if you’d be willing to help us out here at Gethsemane – mark it on the connection cards. We’re starting up a new marriage mentors program. If you’ve been married for 10 plus years – write your name down and I’ll get into contact with you to serve as mentors for some younger married couples. They need help in this sin-filled world.
2. Focus on your Own Marriage
This is key. Too many Americans focus on so many other things first. Money. Fame. Their career. Even their kids. Marriage is one of the last things.
In fact, there was a recent study in which over 65% of millennials (I just fit into this category) stated that Marriage is not as important as other things.
Don’t listen to that message. If you are married, your spouse is the number #1 non-God thing that is in your wife. Put it on your To-Do-List. I know fixing the sink, getting little Johnny to karate, and working is important but if “Strengthen my marriage” isn’t on your list, you’re aiming to fail. You’re forgetting the most important thing.
Don’t forget. Because God didn’t forget you. In his marriage to you he put repairing your relationship with Him as number 1. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose for you.
He made you a part of his blueprint. Make him a part of your family blueprint. Amen.
She was beautiful.
He wasn’t really sure what she was, but whatever she was, she was beautiful.
Then, God explained: “I knew that you were lonely. Even though I had made this beautiful garden for you and filled with fish, birds, and animals, with gorgeous flowers and breathtaking sunrises…I knew it was only good. Not “very good.” I knew you needed someone to share this garden with. Someone like you. Someone of you.”
“So when you were sleeping, I took a part of you. I molded. I formed. I created another just like you. Another to complement you. Another to make you complete.
I call her “from man.” You call her “woman.”
Adam had a tear of joy in his eyes. As the robins chirped in perfect harmony with the blue jays and the hummingbirds hummed an accompaniment, while butterflies floated over their heads. Adam grabbed this “woman” by the hands. He took advantage of this romantic moment. He squeezed her tightly. He spoke quietly and beautifully – the first ever love poem: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because shew was taken out of man.”
Fast forward with me.
Now the garden was gone. Now the sound of the robins was replaced by the angry cawing of the buzzards. The green canopy had been replayed with a dead tree. Weeds, thistles, and thorns covered the scenery as the two sat down for a few measly turnips – all that had grown in this season. Adam was tired and covered in sweat. Eve was tired and covered in sweat. Their kids, Cain and Abel, were fighting in the background over who had to feed their pet pig.
The scene had changed. Gone was the perfect paradise, replaced by a shell of the garden – in their new real sinful world.
I’m sure they were tempted. Tempted to blame each other.
Everytime Eve slaved over a hot stove to make the exact same onion stew she always made, I imagine she longed for the ease of picking ready made strawberries, tangerines, and other citrus in the 70 degree temps of Eden. Then she thought of Adam – how he hadn’t been a good leader. How this was all his fault.
Meanwhile Adam washed up for dinner and picked at the thorns in his forefingers in order being careful not to touch the tender boils on his skin. I imagine he longed for Eden – when he lay on a palm branch hammock and asked the monkey to deliver him the best banana cocktail he could find. Then, he thought of Eve—how she had been tricked. How this was all her fault.
This scene was less romantic.
Maybe you hope for a marriage like Adam and Eve in the garden. If you are engaged, perhaps you think that’s exactly how it will be. If you’ve been married for a while perhaps you realize that married can look a lot more like the second scene. Maybe you don’t get married because you are sure your marriage will be like the second scene.
Today we’re taking a look at marriage. Marriage in a post Eden world. How do you make it work – in the future or right now? When should you call it quits? When is it just too hard?
I. The World’s Definition
Did you know that according to recent marriage trends it is likely that 44% of the couples that got married in 2014 will end in divorce? This isn't surprising news. Our world treats divorce as if it is no big deal.
Case and point: Kim Kardashian. Specifically her second marriage to the NBA star Kris Humphries. They built up the planning for this wedding for months on her reality TV show. Then, by the time the wedding aired, she was almost divorced. Their marriage lasted for 72 days.
When you watch the TV show, she brings up the same theme for divorce again and again, "I'm just not feeling in love anymore."
The world's definition of marriage is based on love, the feeling.
This perspective on marriage really affects the divorce question.
ABC’s popular reality show The Bachelor encompasses this. The man searching for his true wife slowly narrows it down to his true love as he sorts it out through romantic boat rides in remote lagoons, balloon rides over the setting sun, and private dances in a Cinderella like castle with special guest Bruno Mars performing live just for them. Finally the Bachelor decides that he feels in love. He feels like she will be the perfect wife. He gets dows on his knee and asks one of the women to marry him.
Trivia fact – Less than 10% of all bachelor relationships are still together.
And our world says, “That’s ok. If you don’t feel love anymore, how can you be expected to remain married?”
II. The Divorce Question
Based on our world's definition of marriage, you can understand the Pharisee’ question. Take a look at Matthew 19:1. They asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” What’s interesting is the implication. They seem to have some kind of moral compass. They seem to think that there are some good reasons and some not so good reasons.
Judging by the fact that they are humans – I imagine they judge good reasons – as their own; and bad reasons – as the reasons of others. “It’s ok. We’re getting divorced because she doesn’t make a casserole like my mom does.” “Tabitha and I have decided to part because things aren’t as romantic as they used to be.” “I’m getting my divorce papers tomorrow – because there’s another woman at the marketplace that I have taken a fancy too. Sorry. The heart wants what the heart wants!”
No wonder those who put their faith in human definitions of marriage often result in divorce.
Do you think similarly? Do you look for someone to marry based on how they make you feel? Do you remain married because you feel like you are in a Disney palace? Is real marriage really defined by the way that you felt?
But listen to what Jesus has to say: 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and 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 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
And the Pharisees get indignant. 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. – In other words, you were so angry, sinful, and bitter that civically speaking, the government had to give you a divorce – or you’d be doing income taxes for the three wives you left and remarried within the past year. But it was not this way from the beginning. It is not this way in God’s neck of the wood. It isn’t this way in God’s definition. Jesus continues. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
In other words – If you get legally divorced, unless the other person ends the marriage first by having intimate relations with someone else OR abandoning the marriage, then you are sinning.
Why? Why is God so harsh? Could it be that’s God’s definition of marriage is about way more than simply – feelings?
Here are three things that prove it:
1) God made them males and female. The implication? God made men and women with the desire that they get married. He desired for them to connect with one another. He desired that they complement one another.
But what if I would rather marry a guy? What if I have romantic feelings for someone of the same sex?
Look very carefully at Jesus’ words. They are pretty clear. God made them “male and female…with the purpose of the man leaving his father and mother and being united to his wife…”
But this is more than just a proof passage for the traditional formula of marriage. It is proof that marriage is about more than what you feel. It is proof that love is about more than what you feel.
Otherwise Jesus would have said, “Haven’t you read…that they were made male and female – but I don’t care. Do what you want.”
He didn’t say that, because he did care. In Jesus’ definition, marriage is about more than feelings.
2) “Two become one flesh.”
In fact, look at how he continues: “For this reason a man will be united to his wife…and the two will become one flesh.”
What a beautiful illustration this is too. Remember Adam and Eve. Eve literally came form Adam. There was one body and then there were two.
But, when they were married, though they weren’t joined together as literal Siamese twins, these two, who were one, became one again. This connects the two that are married in an intense soul bond. It’s beyond emotions. It’s a commitment bond. A choice. A loving decision to stay connected for each other...for kids.
3) “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”
When two become one, then suddenly you can’t just throw up your hands, give up, and move to Kentucky because “I don’t feel in love with him anymore.” You can’t do that, because you’ll be tearing apart a special bond. You’ll be causing pain, sadness, and intense emotional bleeding.
Jesus doesn’t stand for that, because when you do that – you’re causing all kinds of pain and sadness to one of his own children!
But most importantly, you’ll be breaking apart God’s own work.
One thing I’ve learned about spending time in Precious Lambs is to keep your hands off of anything that looks remotely like it might be “In Progress.” A few days ago I went in during a break and saw some blocks on the floor. I thought, “I'll help. I’ll pick them up.” Just then, the little boy who had placed those blocks there came in with his eyes bawling in tears: “That’s my castle. You’re destroying my castle. How could you!?! You broke what I put together."
If you decide to give up on your marriage because it’s too hard…if you consistently look at porn in your marriage because you don’t feel it from her…if you love tempting a married man…if you enjoy flirting with married women…if you cheat on your spouse…if you tell your friend “Hey, I think you should give up, you tried hard.” Understand this: You are doing way more than simply divorcing…
…You are destroying God’s work.
III. God’s Definition
What is God’s definition of marriage then? If it isn’t about love feelings – what is it about?
Head with me to 1 Corinthians 13. These are some beautiful words that are commonly spoken at a wedding. Listen to how the Bible defines love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Notice what it does not say, “Love is that little spark you have when you look at someone.” Note that it doesn’t say, “Love is the twist in your gut that you get when your crush looks at you.” Nowhere is there mention of “the fireworks that go off metaphorically as ABC production’s fireworks go off literally."
Everyone of those words involves an action. Love acts patient– when its recipient is repeatedly late for the time you are leaving. Love acts kind…doing the dishes when it feels like lounging on the couch. Love does not envy…it celebrates the accomplishments of those around it. Love does not act proud…It admits its faults, even when it hurts. Love does not dishonor others…even if it might make it feel pretty good to do so. Love is not self seeking – which will naturally lead one’s self to feel bad. Love is not easily angered – even when it feels wronged and hurt, it chooses to respond with kindness. Love keeps not record of wrongs – even though the record might be rather long, love actively chooses not to take it into consideration. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects actively keeping it’s love safe even when it doesn’t want to. It always trusts thoroughly believing that the two of you will make it, even when both of you feel like you are not going to. Love always hopes. It always perseveres. It NEVER fails.
There is no greater example of this than Jesus Christ himself. Check out the Scripture from 1 John. It says, “This is how we know what love is: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Jesus took action. He took action and actively bore your sins. He actively walked to the cross. He went through the agony of a crucifixion for you.
Jesus did this while we were sinners! He did do this because there was some kind of romantic spark between you and Him. He did it even when you were in the worst of your sins. He did it when there was nothing loveable about you at all. He did it even though you have repeatedly time and time gone against him. Which means that if you have broken your marriage vows, if you have been actively harming your spouse, if you have been involved in ruining someone else’s marriage, if you have been divorced and are seeking God again – then God’s message for you today is this: You are forgiven! You are forgiven and Jesus loves you.
That’s the message of Hosea. Do you know about Hosea? Hosea was a prophet whom God told to go and marry a prostitute. Sound like a good idea? It wasn’t. Hosea’s wife repeatedly cheated on him. Hosea would head downtown and literally pull her out of the bedroom from another drug induced coma with another man and bring her home, nurse her to health, and call her “sweetie” in the morning.
How could Hosea do that? Easy. It’s what God had done to him.
It’s also what God has done to us. We have repeatedly, over and over again been unfaithful to Him –and He has repeatedly – shown us love. He will not give up on you.
Because that’s God’s definition of marriage. His definition is not based on feeling love. His definition is based on action love. Underserved, gracious, passionate, all the time, action love.
God says you are his bride,. You are the object of his affection.
Since you know God’s love, won’t you show that same kind of love in your marriage too?
Head back with me to the Adam and Eve scene. Is it really so loveless? The two of them had legitimate gripes against the other one. They had caused sin to come into the world. They had forfeited perfection and now lived together in all of their day to day imperfection…
..but they stayed together. They forgave. They loved. They hugged. Their love didn’t fail because they had seen God’s love which never fails.
Brothers & sisters, may you find such a love and may you grow in such love. May you be filled with God’s action love. Amen.
Genesis 1 paints a really a beautiful picture doesn’t it?
A man, newly formed, searches throughout all of creation for the perfect partner. But his work is in vain. He realizes that he doesn’t have the perfect partner. He has no one to share his life with.
Enter God. He causes the man to fall into a deep sleep. He removes one of the man’s ribs. He uses that rib to create the perfect partner. From man he created "out of man” or, as English speakers say, “Woman.”
When the man awakes, he is astonished. Mystified. He speaks her a love poem, “This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” She isn’t just another person. She isn’t just my partner. She is me. She and I are one. He holds her in his arms. She looks up at him and beams. She is pleased to call this wonderful man her leader.
Fast forward a thousands of years.
Again a man is sleeping. But it’s not because of God. It’s because of a few too many Busch Lights. He opens his eyes to watch the TV commercials on the ball game – if only his wife were more like those cheerleaders!
She’s in the other room. Literally on the phone complaining about the big oaf next door. What a fool! Why did she marry? He’s lazy, ignorant, and unattractive. She doesn’t respect him AND don’t worry, she lets him know every chance that she gets.
Suddenly, the man speaks. It’s poetic…
“Honey dear, can you get me another beer?!”
So what happened? Why the difference? How come modern marriages have fallen so far apart from the perfect union that God intended it?
The answer, or course, is sin.
Today God’s Word from 1 Peter 3 reminds us what God’s plan for marriage is. It speaks to wives about what Women of God will bring to a marriage and to husbands about what Men of God will bring to a marriage.
Scripture talks to women first in 1 Peter 3:1, “Wives, in the same way submit to your husbands.”
Immediately you see the “what” of what God calls you to do. It’s that word -- submit. It’s the same word that God used in our past two sermons on Chapter 21 Peter. Submit to the Government. Submit to your employers. Now wives are to submit to their husbands.
Remember what submit means. It deals with respect and honor. But with wives, it goes a bit farther. It is unforced. It’s not the husband’s job to make his wife submit. (And men, this is not talking to you!) The wife submits out of love.
It’s like the car turning left onto Falls of Neuse. It waits, out of love, for the pedestrian crossing the walk. Concession is necessary for things to work. Even if the car is carrying a vital organ to take up to Wake Med North and the pedestrian is a bum – concession happens. Out of love, unforced, and completely removed from one person being more important than another.
Submission then speaks of a loving, unforced concession of the leadership position to the husband.
Now, dear wives, maybe to a godly man that sounds fine. The logic is simple: He loves Jesus. He loves you. He should love you with a Jesus-like love!
But what if he is a jerk? What if he is rude? What if you are married to an unbeliever who doesn’t have your best spiritual interests in mind? Do you have to submit then?
God’s Word says this, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”
Now certainly God’s Word doesn’t not want us to follow husbands into unbelief (or any sin). Yet it is precisely because of a wife’s faith in Christ that God wants you to submit even to an unbelieving husband. Because it is by this godly submission that the husband will notice a direct contrast to the unbelieving way of the world.
He will see it is better. He will say, “What’s the difference between my wife and my buddy’s wives? Why is she kinder? Why is she gentler? Could it be the Christian thing? Maybe I should learn more about this Jesus!”
It is clear. God’s Word tells wives to submit to their husbands.
Now when you think of it in theory. This should be easy, right? There’s an intimate relationship between husband and wife. You chose him as your husband. You love him. It should be way easier to submit to him than the government or your boss.
But how good are you at this submission thing really? Here’s a little test to see if you struggle with respecting your husband as your leader:
Women if you struggle with submission repent and turn to the one who submitted to your eternal, spiritual needs. Jesus, who was Master of the Universe, yet he submitted himself to a life on this earth. Then he submitted himself to your sins of selfishness, pride, and disrespect for your husband. He let hem overtake him and he submitted to death.
In doing so, He saved you. In Christ, you are forgiven. In Christ’s forgiveness for you sinful thoughts and attitudes as a wife, you are a WOMAN of GOD.
Be that woman of God. Verse 3 explains more: 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
About a week ago Beyonce performed at the VMAs. I didn’t see it, but I did read a review. Apparently there were stripper poles, backup dancers wearing lingerie, and songs about doing things in the back of cars with boys. Then, near the end of our performance a big LED sign lit up behind her displaying what was apparently her message – “FEMINISM.”
Really? Sexy? Lewd? That’s feminism? Bowing to society’s expectations and self consciously trying to allure men to do what you want by playing on their physical attractions? That’s power?
Do not be deceived. Scripture says to worry less about how you look and more about what’s in your heart. Instead of striving to be like Beyonce; strive to embody real, Biblical feminism. Verse 5 says this, “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
How’s that for a romantic term? Not “Cutie.” Not “babe,” Not even “Love muffin.” But “Master.”
But before you throw her under the bus as “Ancient” and “old fashioned,” consider what this Old Testament patriarchess meant with such an endearing name: “Abraham, I trust you. I trust God. I’m going to ignore my pride and I’m going to ignore my selfishness and I’m going to let you be my leader.”
Wow. That’s real feminism. She defined herself not by her looks, not by her role in marriage, but by God’s love for her.
God’s Word shifts its attention to the men in the family next. Look at verse 7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
The directive is simple. It’s clear: Be considerate about her. Think for her. Act for her. Love her.
Yes, you see that word about the weaker partner. The simplest and easiest way to interpret this is physically. Guys are generally strong and have bigger muscles.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? God gave the leaders the greater physical strength NOT so they can show off. Not so that they can hold it against their wives, but so that they could honor, cherish, protect, and provide for them! Ephesians 5 adds to it, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
In other words, God’s perfect plan for marriage involves a woman’s unforced, loving submission, but it also involves a husband loving leadership that submits itself to his wife’s needs.
A man is to love his wife more than his life!
But we aren’t all that good at this are we gentlemen? Men too have a problem with selfishness. We too have a problem with pride. We too have sinful attitudes that have infected the way we treat our wives.
Sometimes we don’t even love our wives more than the football game on TV.
Think if you don’t showcase these same sinful attitudes:
Men, if you do these things and have this attitude you are wrong. You are not leading your wife. You are heeding and impeding her.
Thank God Jesus wasn’t selfish. Thank God Christ didn’t get to the end of his work, to the end of his perfectly lived, perfectly obedient life and say, “Well, I’ve worked hard. I know the next part is for me to die and substitute myself to save these people – the church, but I’m not gonna. I’ve worked too hard. They’ve done nothing. It’s their sins they are in trouble for, so they can take care of it themselves.”
Instead, Christ gave up his life. He led us all the way to eternal life. Even when it means giving up his life, Christ did it because he was the perfect leader – completely submissive to his people’s needs. GOD OUR SAVIOR did what it took lead MEN to God. Now he asks you to be MEN OF GOD who do what it takes to bring your wives to God!
Be those men of God!
Do you have any collectibles at home? Maybe it’s an autographed baseball. Maybe it’s a sports card. Maybe it’s a hotrod car. Maybe it’s a PEZ dispenser. (Some collections are more manly than others.)
I’ll be you treat that collection with care. You got a case for your sports collections. A pedestal for the baseball. A full wax treatment everytime you head into the garage for your car.
Love your wives in the same way. That’s what MEN OF GOD do. They cherish their wives dearly. Put their needs before yours. Treat them like that autographed baseball that you never treat harshly and take care of them nicely. They treat their wives. Their buy their wives gifts. They give their wives hugs. They do the laundry so their wives can rest. They take them aside and whisper, “I love you!” They give everything to take care of this precious gift God has given them. The one with whom they share everything.
Men of God love your wife more than your life! Talk about romantic. That can only come from a man of God!
I want you to focus back on a phrase in verse 7. “Heirs together” Not HEIRS APART. Not heirs of SEPARATE THINGS. Heirs together.
Men and women are different. But we aren’t different to oppose each other. And, if you are married, you and your husband are different, but you aren’t different to oppose each other. You are to complement each other. To encourage each other. To walk hand and hand together till you reach eternal life.
You know – perfection. Like the Garden of Eden. United with each other. United with God.
It’s a beautiful picture again. Amen.