************ Sermon on Mark 10:1-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 5, 2015
"What God has Joined Together"
This sermon is a Biblical response to the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage. There are some who will strongly disagree with what I am about to say. And, I will be appalled if it includes anyone who is here this evening.
It is clear to me that we are a country divided. Even our own community is divided on this issue. I read the letters to the editor in our newspaper and I am appalled that a conservative community like Visalia has so many speaking in favor of what the Supreme Court decided.
I am also appalled by the hate-speech from those on both sides of the debate. Whether it is by way of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, newsletters, or emails it is sad to hear the angry and spiteful outbursts I have come across. For instance, I clipped an article from Thursday's Visalia Times Delta. The article is about a lawyer who want to make homosexual activity a capital offense in California. He wants to put a law before voters that advocates killing anyone who engages in gay sex. He calls his initiative the "Sodomite Suppression Act."
I World and Life View
A Let me make clear that we aren't just talking about gay marriage tonight. Based upon the Bible, we are talking about the great and wonderful institution of marriage. But before we do, let me begin with five preliminary remarks.
First, we are looking at marriage from a Biblical and Christian worldview. Our world and life view does not first ask "What works?" -- known as pragmatism. Nor do we ask "What feels right?" -- known as hedonism. Nor do we ask "What do most people think?" -- known as relativism. Our world and life view starts off by asking "What does God think and say?" For the Christian this is the most important issue. And if the way God thinks about an issue is different from the way I think, then it is me -- not Him -- that needs to change.
This means our fundamental point of disagreement with the Supreme Court, the government, and our culture has to do with worldview. The issue is not gay marriage. The issue is not love. The issue is not genetics or science. The issue is not politics or the Supreme court or equality. We differ in our worldview. Our worldview is this: we live in a world that God has made and He is the One Who has revealed in His Word the rules we must live by.
B The second thing I want to say is that God permitted the ruling on gay marriage to happen. In a universe controlled by God, nothing happens without His permission. So, even as we talk about gay marriage we have to confess the sovereignty of God.
Meaning what for you and me as we look at the ruling on gay marriage? Meaning that the first person we need to address is not the President or a Supreme Court Justice or the Governor or our Member of Congress. The first person we need to address is God.
I don't know how many of you paid close attention to the prayer I offered last Sunday morning. Last week Sunday morning I offered a complaint to God because of what He permitted. Let's bow our heads and offer the prayer again:
Lord God Almighty, as we think about the Supreme Court decision we offer a complaint to You as was done by the psalmist. We ask in the words of Psalm 94:God permitted gay marriage so we need to talk to God about this in prayer. That's my second comment.
How long will the wicked, O LORD, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, O LORD; they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the alien; they murder the fatherless.
They say, "The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed."
So we make the same request as the psalmist to You, O LORD, the God Who avenges:
O God shine forth.
Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
Help us, Lord, to keep in mind the words of David in this kind of situation (Psalm 37:1-4):
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good ... Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Amen.
C The third thing I need to say is that for a long time now there has been a fundamental difference between what the Bible says and what our culture and government says about marriage. So, what we are facing today with gay marriage is nothing new. For instance, our government allows the dissolution of marriage these days for virtually any reason; the Bible does not. And, our government allows consenting adults to live together as an alternative to marriage; in fact, most couples today start off that way; again, this is not the Bible's view.
D The fourth thing I want to say relates to what we looked at this morning when I talked about Joseph and his brothers. We focused on what Joseph said when he forgave his brothers: "God meant it for good." As Christians we need to keep this in mind when it comes to gay marriage. We don't know what good God has in mind for us His people by permitting gay marriage to happen but we do have His promise that somehow, someday there will be good coming out of this.
E The fifth thing I want to say relates to our Bible reading this evening. We are told Jesus "went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan" (Mk 10:1). What is significant about this? This district was ruled by Herod Antipas who was in an adulterous marriage relationship with his brother's wife. If you remember, John the Baptist dared to preach against this relationship and for this reason ended up in Herod's prison and was eventually killed (Mk 6:14-29). In this dangerous political situation, some Pharisees "tested" Jesus (Mk 10:2). The Greek verbs indicate that the Pharisees "kept asking Him." They were trying their best to trap Jesus into saying something that would also get Him thrown into Herod's prison. So, just like today, politics was involved in the issue of marriage.
But there was more than politics involved in the trick question of the Pharisees. In that day there were two conflicting views on divorce among the Jewish rabbis. The followers of Rabbi Hillel were quite lenient in their interpretation and permitted a man to divorce his wife for any reason, even the burning of his food. But the school of Rabbi Shimmai was much more strict and taught that divorce was allowed only for premarital sin. If a newly married husband, for instance, discovered that his wife was not a virgin, then he could put her away. No matter what answer Jesus gave, He would be sure to displease somebody and His popularity would decrease -- which was a good thing from the Pharisees' point-of-view.
II Jesus' Teaching on Marriage
A As He usually did, Jesus ignored the politics and debates and focused attention on the Word of God. He starts by quoting from Genesis 1 when He says, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female'" (Mk 10:6).
God "made them." The same God Who made the light, sky, land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, and animals also made man and woman (Gen 1). It was God Who formed the man from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7) and made woman from the rib of man (Gen 2:21).
God made them "male and female." A close reader of Scripture notices that this distinguishes humanity from every other creature in creation. Only with humans are we told that God created them "male and female" (Gen 1:27). Only with humans do we see the creation of the male and, then, the creation of the female. With every other species, male and female are not even mentioned. Leading us to conclude that among the fish and the birds and the living creatures, male and female were made at the same time.
God made us "male and female." Did you know Facebook thinks it can do better than God? It gives you a choice of 51 gender options: Male, Female, Androgynous (someone who neither identifies with, nor presents as, a man or woman), Bigender (someone who identifies as both a man and a woman), Gender Fluid (someone whose gender changes from day-to-day), Female to Male (a person who was female and now lives as a male), and so on. But Jesus says God made us "male and female." God did not make us bigender or gender fluid or transgender or whatever other category Facebook can come up with.
God made us "male and female." And what God joined together in marriage is "male and female." God did not join us together as male and male. God did not join us together as female and female. God joined us together as "male and female." The Scriptures nowhere recognize with divine approval any other form of marriage other than that between one man and one woman.
B Jesus also quotes from Genesis 2 when He says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Mk 10:7-8). And then Jesus added His own inspired commentary: "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mk 10:9).
Jesus teaches us here that marriage is between one man and one woman. God's intention from the beginning was NOT the polygamy of the heathen nations; Adam was expected to have but one wife. God's intention from the beginning also is NOT the serial polygamy that we find in the U.S.; I am talking about the unbiblical divorce and remarriage that is so frequent in our culture.
Jesus also teaches that a man "leaves" his parents and is "united" to his wife. The English word "leave" is way too weak. In the Hebrew, the word frequently describes Israel's rejection of her covenant relationship with the LORD God (Jer 1:16; 2:13, 17, 19; 5:7; 16:11; 17:13; 19:4; 22:9). Likewise, I think the English word "united" is too weak; I prefer the language of the old King James which is far more vivid and picks up better the intent of the original languages. A man "cleaves" to his wife. So, a man "leaves" his parents and "cleaves" to his wife.
What is Jesus saying? The idea here is that the needs of your spouse become most important -- more important than father and mother. Certainly the needs of our spouse become more important than our own needs. We are to put the interest of our spouse first.
Jesus also says that husband and wife become "one flesh." He is not talking about a spiritual or emotional union. He is talking about a union of the flesh. God intended for husband and wife to be one flesh. God did not intend for husband and husband to be one flesh. God did not intend for wife and wife to be one flesh. I say it again: the Scriptures nowhere recognize with divine approval any other form of marriage other than that between one man and one woman.
Finally, Jesus declares that the union of husband and wife is not to be broken: "what God has joined together, let man not separate."
We need to keep all this in mind because it comes up again in a few minutes.
III We Have Messed Up Marriage
A A lot of churches and Christians are all upset about the recent Supreme Court ruling. I expect resolutions and denunciations and referendums and attempts to impeach a justice or two because homosexual marriage and practice violates God's standard. Let me say this loud and clear: homosexuals are in sin and our Supreme Court has totally messed up marriage.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a new version of two-kingdom theology which many in the URC are falling for. According to two-kingdom theology I cannot say what I just said. According to two-kingdom theology, from this pulpit I cannot address the Supreme Court, our President and Governor, and our media with the Word of God. I cannot do what Elijah and Hosea and Isaiah and Jeremiah and John the Baptist and Jesus all did. According to two-kingdom theology the Word of God does not even apply to unbelievers. I need to warn you again about the danger of this teaching. Because the Bible and the church does have something to say to kings and those in high places. Because the pulpit most not be silent on public issues like abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, and the like.
So I say to the Supreme Court: You are wrong. So I say to our President and Governor: You are wrong. So I say to many in Hollywood: You are wrong. And you all need to repent. Because gay marriage violates God's standards.
B But now I need to add that as we think of what Jesus said about marriage, much of what goes on in heterosexual marriage violates God's standard as well. Divorce is one example. Even among Christians. Statistics indicate as many Christian marriages are breaking up as those in the unsaved world. This is because too many of us choose to ignore Jesus' teaching on marriage. When it comes to marriage, do you know what I hear in my office? I hear about pornography, sexual selfishness, a lack of compassion and love, an absence of mutual submission and sacrifice, fighting and cruelty and silence, adultery, separation and divorce, sexual abuse, men who abdicate their role as spiritual head of the family ... and the list goes on and on.
Furthermore, is there any husband here who can say they love their wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her? Is there any wife who can say she submits to her husband in the same way as the church submits to Christ? Is there any husband and wife who can say they fully submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (cf Eph 5:22-33)?
According to our world and life view, we all -- as sinners -- have made a mess of marriage. All of us, as husbands and wives and singles, fall far short of God's standard and need to repent and seek His forgiveness every single day. That's what I want you to hear this evening. We cannot point the finger only at homosexuals and the Supreme Court and their liberal allies when we, too, are in the wrong. It is hypocritical on our part to expect the world to submit to what God says about marriage while we ourselves are in a state of rebellion!
C But now there is another thing we also need to hear about our world and life view: we all need to hear that the only hope for marriage is Jesus Christ. We all need to hear that there is forgiveness through the blood of Christ. We all need to hear that Christ is renewing us to be like Himself. We all need to hear that in Christ we can make a beginning in living the kind of life that God expects of us.
I hope you realize we do not speak about marriage as those who are morally superior. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God: you, me, homosexuals, heterosexuals. All us of need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. All of us need to make it our delight to walk before the Lord in obedience.
Marriage is holy. The love between a man and a woman is meant to be a picture of Christ's love for His church.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page