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Specific Ways To Maintain Marriage In Glory

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How and Specific Ways To Maintain Marriage In Glory

By way of application, let me offer some thoughts that may help you relate biblically to a morally disintegrating culture. I will do this by drawing out some specific ways the two of you can hold marriage in honor, now and in the future. 

Ways to Hold Marriage in Glory.

1. Don’t Confuse It with Anything That Is Not Marriage.

What I have in mind here is a h©mos€×ual relationship between two men or two women. We live in tumultuous times. Up until the last few decades, as far as we know, no society in the history of the world had ever defined marriage as including between people of the same s€×. It is a mind boggling innovation with no precedent.

  These thousands of years of unified human behavior are no fluke of history. The apostle Paul tells us that homo s€×ual relations are revealed as sin not only in Christian Scripture, but in nature as well. 

God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26–27)

 This God designed naturalness has been recognized, as far as we know, for the entire history of humankind, until the last few decades. This is why I say we live in tumultuous times. So as you are looking forward to marriage, let me try to show you briefly from Scripture why this precious institution is not and cannot be a union between two people of the same s€×. 

 Marriage is created and defined by God in the Scriptures as the s€×ual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood bought church. Consider four passages of Scripture to support this definition.

 Created Male and Female

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” | (Genesis 1:27–28).

 So God created man as male and female with a mission of filling the earth with his glory, since they are created in the image of that glory, and exist to reflect the beauty and greatness of God in the world. Humanity, from the very beginning, was male and female, two different kinds of glorious human beings.

 One Flesh Covenantal Union.

  In the following chapter of Genesis, God linked his design for male and female with marriage. When the woman is created from Adam’s side, he exclaims, “‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23–24). 

God created man male and female so that there might be a “one flesh” sexual union and covenantal cleaving (“hold fast”) with a view to multiplying the human race and displaying God’s covenant with his people. We will see in a moment that designing marriage on the pattern of God’s relationship to his people is a profound mystery that will not be fully revealed until Christ comes. 

Design for Marriage.
 Jesus, picking up on this link between creation and marriage and life long covenant, wove together these two texts. 
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female [Genesis 1:27], and said [quoting Genesis 2:24], “Therefore [linking creation and marriage] a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast 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 not man separate. (Matthew 19:4–6) 

By weaving together the marriage passage with the creation of mankind as male and female, Jesus shows that the joining of maleness and femaleness is an essential part of God’s design for every marriage. What has God “joined together” in marriage? One man, and one woman. Today, in our new era of s€×ual experimentation and aberration, this can be a highly controversial position. 

Reflecting Christ and the Church.
One more passage makes even more clear that maleness and femaleness are essential to the deepest meaning of marriage, the profound mystery that Paul refers to. 
 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Therefore [quoting Genesis 2:24] 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.

 From the beginning there has been a mysterious and profound meaning to marriage, even beyond what was revealed in nature. Paul is now opening that mystery. And the mystery is this: God made man male and female with their distinctive feminine and masculine natures and their distinctive roles so that in marriage as husband and wife they could display the covenant love between Christ and the church. 
  Which means that the basic roles of wife and husband are not interchangeable. The husband displays the sacrificial love of Christ’s headship, and the wife submits to that headship with joy and displays the covenant keeping role that God designed for his people. The mystery of marriage is that God had this double display in mind (of church and Christ, wife and husband) when he created man as male and female. The profoundest reality in the universe underlies marriage as a covenantal union between a man and a woman. 

Therefore, same s€× partnerships cannot embody what God designed marriage to be. Two men or two women cannot portray the mystery God designed for man and woman to display in marriage. Put simply and plainly, there is no such thing as “same-gender marriage.” A government may decide to legalize it and call it marriage, but it is not. So my point here is not only that so-called same-gender marriage shouldn’t exist, but that it doesn’t and it can’t.

 I don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression here. Same-gender inclinations are not in the same category as same-gender practices. When the Bible says that “men who practice h©mos€×uality” will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10), it is referring to unrepentant rejection of God’s truth and the practice of h©mos€×ual relations. Many godly men and women who experience same-gender attraction reject those inclinations as their defining reality and live lives of self-denial and s€×ual purity, just as thousands of single people do whose heteros€×ual desires are not acted on outside marriage. 

As you move toward marriage, my prayer for you is that you will build your relationship on the gospel of Jesus Christ, which enables you to again and again forgive each other and rebuild gospel joy after sin has brought you into wounding conflict.  

If you build your marriage on the gospel in this way, you will together have a gracious ministry to broken and sinful people outside your marriage. This includes a gracious demeanor and a welcoming home to those with same-s€× attraction. You will live in the light not only of 1 Corinthians 6:10 (with its strong warning against h©mos€×ual practice), but you will also live in the hope-filled light of the next verse: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”. You can read the most important things you should know about the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit.

This is the heart of biblical Christianity, in marriage and outside of marriage: “Such were some of you." There were Christians in the church at Corinth who had been fornicators and adulterers and thieves and drunkards and “men who practice[d] h©mos€×uality.” When they turned to Christ for hope and help in their battle with sin, they were not driven away. They were folded in.

 The way they were folded in was that they were “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." That is, they put their trust in Jesus; they turned from their sinful practice; they renounced the sinful pursuit of their desires; and God counted them righteous, he imputed to them his own purity, and counted them as acceptable in his sight, and adopted them into his family. Into our family. 

May your marriage be this kind of gospel saturated marriage. May you stand firm and strong in our tumultuous time in your commitment to marriage as the s€×ual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying the unbreakable covenant love between Christ and his church. 

This vision of marriage will bring the greatest blessing you both, and make you a great blessing to others who desperately need to see the beauty of the gospel lived out in your marriage. 

2. Don’t Commit Fornication or Adultery.

The second way to honor marriage is to not commit fornication or adultery. 
That’s what the second half of the verse says: “Let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the s€×ually immoral and adulterous.” The word translated “s€×ually immoral” means those who commit fornication in distinction to adultery. The writer has two ways in mind of dishonoring marriage and defiling the marriage bed: adultery and fornication. Both at root commit the same evil: having s€×ual relations with someone who is not your lawful spouse. It’s called adultery if you are married; it’s called fornication if you are not married. 

But both are a dishonor to marriage and a defiling of the marriage bed, because God made marriage, and marriage alone, as the one holy and safe and ultimately joyful place for s€×ual relations (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2). The text says that God will judge fornicators and adulterers because they dishonor marriage and defile the marriage bed. In other words, God’s judgment falls on unrepentant people who destroy what is meant for joy. 

That word repentant leads to a third and final way to honor marriage and keep the marriage bed undefiled (though there are many more).

3. Live Out Forgiveness and Joy and Hope.

We honor marriage when we live out the clean and happy future of our unclean and forgiven past. 
   The text tells us that God will judge fornicators and adulterers. First Corinthians 6:9 affirms this, then verse 11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 

Clearly there is judgment on fornicators and adulterers, but not all of them. There is escape from judgment for some. Hebrews teaches this message very clearly. In Hebrews 9:27–28 it says, “Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." 
  So you can see there will be a judgment. But Christ has borne the sins of many, he has taken the judgment for their fornication and their adultery upon himself. And now he is coming, not to do that again, but to save us from the final judgment.
  Or look at Hebrews 10:12–13, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet." So again, you see two things: Christ took sins like fornication and adultery upon himself and paid their penalty in his own death. But there is coming a time when his enemies will be made a footstool for his feet. There is a judgment. 

We see, therefore, two groups of people: those whose sins are covered and forgiven by Jesus (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17), and those whose sins will come down on their own heads in the judgment. The difference is in turning from sin and coming to God through Jesus for forgiveness and help. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him."  So throughout your engagement and marriage, turn and continue turning from fornication. Turn and continue turning from adultery. Draw near to God through Jesus, and he will save for all time. He will enable you to live out a clean and happy future from an unclean and forgiven past. 

Why This Kind of Living Honors Marriage.

This living out of forgiveness and hope honors marriage, because God created marriage to be a living drama of the loving relationship between Christ and his bride, the church (again, see Ephesians 5). So the people who honor this intention best are the people who live out the very forgiveness and cleanness and joy that God designed marriage to portray. 

  There is so much more that could be said. So I leave the rest for the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and prayer in your life. May God make you a salty couple, people whose lives portray good and do good for our decaying society.

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