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Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV) 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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Silent Prayer Recent events and the Spirit of God compel me to speak specifically this morning about God’s design for Christian marriage.  My remarks today are not motivated by hatred or discrimination but rather by the truth.  God’s Word is truth.  We either follow it and live or follow the culture or our own personal whims and pay the consequences.  My job as your pastor is to be responsible with the Word of God, not to sugar coat it nor to beat you up with it, but to point out error where it exists and to hold up the Word of God as THE standard for Christian living.  I’m not saying you can’t choose to live other than the standard.  You have free will and we live in a free country, but I must maintain the Word of God IS the standard for those who will choose to live Christian. A week ago Wednesday, the President of the United States became the first President to publicly endorse same-sex marriage. Church, let me be clear.  There is an all-out war to redefine marriage and it has now been waged at the Federal level.  What do we make of that?  What are the repercussions of that? We have seen the erosion of morality in our country over the last 40 years all in the name of freedom of choice and freedom from religion.  Those who have cried the loudest haven’t been the ones from the church house, and it has taken its toll on the moral fabric of our communities, states and our country. Satan has been attacking the family for years because he knows the stability of a country is directly proportional to the stability of its families.  During the last 40 years we have seen a drastic rise in abortion where children are no longer protected, but are disposable so as not to be a burden.  There has been a drastic rise in divorce where husbands and wives have exercised their freedom of choice to the point where in many cases they simply have chosen to forgo commitments and vows for new relationships and fresh starts. There has been a drastic rise in the use of pornography, human trafficking and other sexual perversion which reduces humans to objects and cheap fixes to satiate uncontrolled and perverted lusts.  Satan’s strategy isn’t new.  It just has a contemporary face, the face of homosexuality. How have we come so far and from where have we truly come?  Let’s go back to the beginning of time, the beginning of creation.  In Genesis 2:18 we read, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” God said that “aloneness” wasn’t a good thing.  If you are here today and you are unmarried, please don’t think that marriage is the only solution to “aloneness.”  The Body of Christ has been established by Jesus to enable us to relate one with another in fulfilling ways that offer peace and contentment.  Sometimes reaching out and investing in relationships, getting to know people, can be more difficult when you are single, but there are people in this fellowship that you can know and fellowship with and share your burdens with to minister to the “aloneness” you might be experiencing. However, Adam was all alone.  It was just him and the giraffes, tigers, and bears.  There was no-one to bounce ideas off of.  No-one to laugh with.  No-one to pray with.  No-one to challenge him to be at his best.  No-one to encourage him.  No-one to process his day with.  God went a step beyond someone to talk with and laugh with. He gave Adam a friend, yes, but it was a special kind of friend.  When God created Eve, He wasn’t establishing that everyone should be married.  There is actually a spiritual gift of singleness!  (I Cor. 7) So, God wasn’t establishing an “everyone has to be married principle,” but when Eve was created, He established principles about marriage that included friendship, partnership, and physical union that would not only deal with the “aloneness” issue, but one that would also enable physical intimacy and children to be born. Look at Genesis 2:20-24:20 . . . But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 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 closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The 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.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. So when God established the entity of marriage, he established marriage as one man and one woman.  A man cannot be joined to a man and have that person be called “his wife.”  A woman cannot be joined to a woman and have that person be called “her wife.”  It was a woman, Eve, that God determined was “suitable” for the man, Adam. I’m going to call this the “Other Principle” of Christian marriage. Genesis 1:27-28 (NIV) 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” And at the end of Genesis one, God called everything He had created, including the establishment of the one man and one woman marriage relationship, “good.” Scripture is clear on the definition of marriage.  It is one man and one woman.  For that reason, Christians could never say there is such a thing as same sex marriage.  The two are to become one. The biblical definition of marriage is two people who are other or opposite of each other (not two of the same) who come together into union and the otherness produces a bond and enables procreation.  Any other expression falls short of the Creator’s intention.  In short, same sex couples cannot become one flesh. Same sex marriages are currently recognized in five states.  30 states have a definition on their books upholding marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But regardless of what states have decided, everything could change based on what the Supreme Court could decide as people who are pushing for same sex marriage are pushing for the Supreme Court to rule. Same sex marriages have been legal in Massachusetts since 2004.  Many would argue that same sex couples should be allowed to be married if they choose and that them doing so doesn’t hurt anyone or impact anyone but themselves.  That is a lie. Redefining marriage has dangerous repercussions that haven’t been thought through.  In a state where same sex marriage is legal, children are now being indoctrinated about the “rightness” of homosexuality.  In one school, 7 year olds have read a book called “King and King,” a story about two married men ruling a kingdom.  Outraged, one set of Christian parents were asked to be notified when those kinds of issued would be discussed in the classroom as they violated their Christian beliefs. They wanted the right to pull their child from the classroom on those days. They were told it wasn’t a parental notification issue because it was now the law and any law could be freely discussed in any school setting at any time.  When the father challenged the issue, he was handcuffed and sent to jail.  The couple filed a lawsuit against the school and it was dismissed when the judge said the schools had not only the right but the responsibility to educate children in this matter.  A redefinition of marriage undermines parental authority! In Brookline Highschool in Massachusetts, a book was circulated among students and adults called “The Little Black Book, Queer in the 21st Century.”  It details how to safely perform a variety of homosexual sex acts and how to meet other homosexuals.  It was published by the Aids Action Committee with money from the state of Massachusetts Department of Health. In other words, public funds were being used to propagate a homosexual agenda in a public high school! Research has shown that children raised in same sex households are 5 to 15 times more likely to identify as homosexuals, pointing to the reality that while someone may deal with a same sex attraction, homosexuality is a choice that is fostered and conditioned by environment. A redefinition of marriage jeopardizes parental rights, contributes to the moral decay of our society, and it restricts religious freedom.  Religious freedom was the FIRST liberty in the constitution.  It was before free speech.  It was before the right to assemble together to challenge the government on a position.  Redefining marriage is a theological or religious issue.  Sexuality is either given by God or it is not.  It is a Christian’s liberty to not to have to send their 7 year old to school in fear that they will be taught religious doctrine, yes doctrine, that is contrary to the Word of God. Same Sex marriage reinforces false assumptions, one being that “Change isn’t possible.”  Look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 where homosexuality is listed with other non-desirable, “wicked” behavior.  9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  (There is no mistaking what God feels about homosexuality.  It cannot biblically be painted in a positive light.)  Go on to verse 11: 11 And that is what some of you were. 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. That is what some of you WERE!Past tense!  What does Scripture say about homosexuality and the other sins mentioned here?  With God’s help, you can change! There is testimony after testimony from men and women who have come out of the homosexual lifestyle and have entered into happy and satisfying heterosexual marriages through the power of God and the retraining of their mind in regards to what they have thought or been taught to believe that was false.  “With God, all things are possible.”   Books that provide help for people who want to come out of the homosexual lifestyle are being banned.  How is it that books that tout same sex attraction as natural, normal, preferable or desirable can be read to 7 year olds, but books on enabling people to change from a sinful pursuit to a righteous one are banned?  Religious freedom and same sex marriage cannot co-exist!   I Timothy tells us to pray for our leaders and those in authority so that we might lead peaceful and quiet lives.  Start praying today for our President and our Supreme Court Justices that God will enable them to see how dangerous a constitutional redefinition of marriage would be.  (The information above was shared via Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council.) Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6 are clear.  Homosexuality is a lifestyle that is offensive to God and is contrary to God’s plan for a person’s life.If you are here today and you are identifying as a homosexual, it is my loving responsibility to tell you that God doesn’t intend for men to be with men and women to be with women in a physically intimate way and that following God’s intentions for your aloneness and sexual expression will be the only thing which will enable you to live your best life.  If you are wrestling with same sex attraction and you embrace God’s truth in your heart, there is an organization that can help you sort out your feelings and choose your best life according to God’s Word.  It’s called “Exodus International.”  If you are trying to minister to someone who is dealing with homosexuality, I encourage you to get on this website and gain some knowledge and information and direct them to the website as God leads you to do so. Now, lest you heterosexual couples think you are in the clear when it comes to Christian marriage, let’s look at some more Scripture that gives us insight into Christian marriage and what God would call “good.” Ephesians 5:15-33 15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Just preceding the passage on the roles of husbands and wives, we see Paul’s admonition to live wisely, to seize the moments God gives us, to be self-controlled and not given to alcohol or anything that could impair our ability to think clearly or maintain self-control, to be Holy Spirit filled and always be worshiping and thanking God.  Is that the portrait painted in your home?  Whether single or married, are those the things you are daily striving for? As Paul goes on, we see how to maintain the “good thing” that God has intended for marriage to be as he outlines some principles which will enable us to truly participate in a Christian marriage. The Unity Principle“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:34)  Unity, “oneness” in marriage is critical.  It is the ideal.  It is the foundation for a life and partnership together. “Oneness” is impossible if you start out divided.  If one person is a Christian and the other is not and they marry, they aren’t “one” from the beginning because ultimately our “oneness” comes from being part of the same body, the Body of Christ.  Young people please don’t be idealistic if you are dating a non-Christian or someone who professes to be a Christian but isn’t living by God’s Word as the standard.  You will never experience the thrill of “oneness” if you are divided spiritually.  I am burdened for couples who are divided spiritually.  I know the blessing in our home starts with the fact that Thom and I are one in Christ first and foremost.  Everything else flows out of that.  Those of you with unsaved spouses don’t give up praying for them.  Don’t give up modeling what it means to belong to Christ and live for Him. I Peter chapter 3 tells us your witness can go a long way in helping your spouse realize he or she needs to be saved.  Some people truly don’t realize they need to be saved.  Don’t give up modeling Jesus in front of an unsaved spouse. So the ideal is “oneness.”Just as we are taught we are one in Christ as the Body of Christ, the Scriptures that deal with oneness in the Body of Christ can also apply to a marriage.–The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:21) In order for there to be unity in a church, each part of the body needs to do its part to build up every other part of the body and meet the others’ needs. So to in a marriage, the husband needs his wife, and the wife needs her husband.They are to build each other up.  When Thom builds me up, because we are one, he becomes stronger.  When I build him up, because we are one, I become stronger. We also see theSubmission Principle.  Ephesians 5:21-22 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”  Even though God has outlined distinct roles for husbands and wives, you’ll see as we navigate through this passage that the intention is mutual submission.  It is not for the husband to dominate or be in charge and for the wife to be enslaved or inferior.  Rather it is a mutual submission one to the other through the roles God has assigned to each. Ladies, you are not inferior in character, intelligence, virtue, spirituality, or talent or in any other way to your husband.  In fact, in many ways you might surpass your husband just as in many ways he surpasses you.  However, you have been given a role that places you under the headship of your husband.  Yes, I said it!  J  I’m preaching to myself this morning! The key to understanding and wanting to embrace this truthJ is found in understanding the relationship between Christ and His church.  The word “submit” means wives voluntarily place themselves under the authority of their husbands.  It’s not a “have to” but a “want to.”  It’s not something you are made to do, but something you do as a recognition that your contribution to the marriage is equal to your husband’s and it flows from your love for Christ first. Your submission to your husband is actually a way to affirm Jesus’ Lordship in your life.  Just as Jesus and God the Father are equal, but Jesus submitted to His Father, just as Jesus was superior to His parents but submitted to them, wives submit to their husbands.  And when we do, we are acknowledging that God has established roles in marriage and by doing so, created a way for us to relate as husband and wife that will bring Him glory and make our marriages stronger! Paul uses the same word for “submit” when he talks about submitting to one another as he does when he talks about wives submitting to their husbands.  It doesn’t refer to placing yourself under anyone’s control.  Rather, we are to submit as unto the Lord or as we would to the Lord.  How do we submit to the Lord?  We do it voluntarily out of our love for Him and out of respect for His sacrifice for us.  So understand this is a voluntary submission that is fueled by love and respect. Why do you submit to Christ?  You do so because you have seen His love in action, you have come to trust His ability to lead you and you respect His sacrifice to save you.  I don’t think this is something that is instant in any marriage.  It grows.  It is progressive.  Submission is not something a husband can demand, but something he must earn and deserve as he proves he is FOR his wife as Christ proved He was FOR the church. Paul said that the husband was the “head” of the wife.  He used a Greek word, “kephale” that is a military term for one who leads in the sense of being in the front of battle.  That is how the husband is the “head” of the wife.  He is to be the one sticking his neck out first.  He is to be the one fighting for his family. Headship isn’t boss or controller. Paul says elsewhere in Colossians 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” Men, never think you are going to experience a submissive wife if you are out to show her who’s boss!  The husband is the head not because he is the boss, but because he is out in front, he is “at the head” of his family when it comes to his responsibility to love and care for his wife.  He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to give himself for his wife as Christ gave himself for the church.  Ultimately, the husband is to be the lead servant in his home.  Husbands, Paul is saying lead by putting your wife’s needs ahead of your own. A husband’s headship doesn’t make him superior.  Galatians 3:28 is clear that the sexes are equal.  Paul is simply saying here that they play different roles in the home.  Wives, I don’t think any of you would argue with submitting to a husband who takes the role of serving you seriously. If you look at the Hebrew in this passage, you’ll see that Paul used a form of Hebrew literature where synonyms are used in parallel form.  Psalm 32:1 and 24:1 are examples of such.  When Paul talked about the submission of the wives and the sacrificial love of a husband, he was really using them as synonyms. Paul was saying, “A husband loves his wife (submits to her needs by caring for her) as she submits to him (loves him by respecting and supporting him).” There is an obvious reciprocity.  The more a husband loves his wife by submitting to her needs, the more submissive she becomes by following his lead and vice versa, and a common respect flows between the two. If they are synonyms and Paul is really saying something similar to husbands and wives, why is it submission and respect for the wife and sacrifice and love for the husband?  Maybe the role we are to play in our marriage is assigned to us because it is most difficult for us to do.  Maybe husbands are tempted to dominate their wives, so they are told to love sacrificially.  Maybe wives are tempted to look down on their husbands so their admonition is submission and respect.  Do you see how God uses marriage to make us more like Jesus and assigns us roles that will strengthen our ability to truly be one? The other principle.  The oneness principle.  The submission principle.  How is it in your home?  It is truly a Christian experience?  Could God call it good?  
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