All of Jesus and the Truths that Test Part III The Act of Marriage. (LGBT, Adam and Eve, and Six Challenges for Us All)
Jesus never spoke on the issue of gay marriage. That’s what my LGBT friends report. If we’re looking for those specific words, then they are correct. But on the other hand, there are other issues, such as embezzlement, of which Jesus never talked about either. However we know His teaching on the specific because of what he said in the general about possessions. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” and other references. In like manner we can see that Jesus covered not only the idea of gay marriage, but all marital issues when He took the religious debaters of His day all the way back to Genesis.
God created mankind distinctly as male and female. The two being differently and completely complimentary to each other. The essence of the act of marriage is the union of those two different beings into one. We also see from various passages such as Proverbs 5:18-19 and Song of Solomon 7:1-9 that God also created the act of sex for marriage and that it is a beautiful union in its proper context.
The problems, however, arise when we move further and further away from God’s design. In the immediate context of Mark 10:2-9, the religious zealots where not focused on getting as close as possible to the heart of God, but rather how close to the edge of sin they could get without falling off the cliff. In specific, they were debating how lax one could be about divorce and separating the marriage while still being ok with God. In response, Jesus reminds them that marriage is not a mere legal contract, but a divine institution designed by God in the first place. Their problem was in their heart and attitude toward the institution. For them, it was not a matter of living out the ideal of God, but negotiating human sin. The divine plan was lost to human preference and people suffered just as they do today.
The present cultural debate really originated in separating sex from marriage to begin with. Feelings have been elevated above the commitment to marriage first, and then sex second. When our propensities, feelings, and emotions rule then the goal no longer becomes one of pursuing God’s best, but rather attempting to fit God into our design.
On the other hand, when we step back and really listen to Jesus, what we find again is that sex and marriage were all God’s idea in the first place and they were good in God’s original creation. In any broken society, the closer we pursue God’s design the closer we can come to our own healing. The more we pursue Jesus the closer we can get to seeing marriage and sexuality truly being good again.
Here are six challenges for us to take in moving closer to God’s design no matter where we are along the path.
- Hold to Truth. When it comes to morality and spirituality, truth today is often allowed to be defined in the eye of the beholder. If it feels good to you it must be right for you and similar philosophies prevail. Because of this, sometimes we fear holding the line on areas that may offend others and we surrender divine absolutes due to fear of cultural backlash. But yet Jesus never walked that path. While Christ came to love in the most profound and sacrificial way possible, he also came full of truth right alongside grace. While culturally acceptable sins will very through the ages, the truth of God remains consistent and unmoved by the winds of political pressure.
- Respond in Love. While truth cannot be abandoned, sometimes Christ followers can go to the other extreme and hold up the righteousness while offering no grace at all. Jerks for Jesus is what I like to refer to those who make it their life’s ambition to go around telling others how wrong they are while all the time stroking their own self-righteous egos. While Jesus and the Bible do speak of an absolute truth, Paul reminded the first believers and us today that we are to “do all things in love.” Thus it is possible to confidentially stand for something without being mean in the process. Love can be demonstrated by the tone of our conversation and the giving of our actions toward those around us whether or not we agree with each other.
- Empathize With Others. When it comes to those who long for gay marriage, the reality is that they often do feel a genuine propensity toward people of the same sex. Sometimes this is because of wounds or dysfunctions from childhood and sometimes there may really be no explanation for it. But in the same way that a person may wrestle with heterosexual temptations, a person may truly wrestle with homosexual temptations. The Bible is clear that the sin is not in the root emotion or propensity, but in the action. I’ve often found that many times we are much more generous with our own struggles than we are with others.
- Look in the Mirror. When tempted to bring down the gauntlet of judgment, we may need to remind ourselves that Jesus was very clear in warning his followers to examine their own lives first. He even approached it with a bit of dry humor noting that we should take the huge plank out of our eye before we attempt to help others get a piece of saw dust out of theirs. While some may not wrestle with homosexual temptations, we need be honest about our own struggle and spend more time drawing our own hearts toward Christ than criticizing others.
- Extend grace with a call for Repentance. For quite some time I’ve heard people reference Jesus on the occasion of His extending compassion to a woman caught in adultery. That is certainly a beautiful illustration of the heart of Christ. The text also includes a swell part where Jesus throws the self-righteous question back into the faces of the religious zealots by suggesting their condemnation and execution begin with the one without sin. They all got the point and walked away with their heads in the dust. But that’s where people stop. They want to remove all divine boundaries and stop just shy of the part where Jesus also exhorts the woman to “leave her life of sin.” Likewise in John 4 Jesus never excuses the sin of a woman who was living with a man after multiple broken marriages but all the while is offering her grace and a new life to the fullest. The truth of the matter is that we can only experience the complete riches of grace when we admit our need for it.
- Honor the Institution. Debi and I are fast approaching our 25th wedding anniversary and that is a cool thing. “Bless her heart” is surely a line that could be given to Deb for being with me so long. Recently though a woman commented on the novelty of this occasion as though it was a rarity. The point being that marriage has fallen on hard times. Many young people experiment with sex early and get married late if at all. We’ve been hurt and have hurt others. Marriage has been seen as an ancient relic of our grandparents and great grandparents but not necessary or desirable for today. The media simply assumes that lifelong marriage is out of style and most of our modern enlightened culture marches to this tune. But yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, Jesus promised that it can be quite to the contrary. I’ve not been the perfect husband and can easily point to a library of my mistakes in marriage. There are countless actions and words I wish I could do over in the right way. But that’s the thing about Jesus, He knows what I’ve done and He still loves me anyway. He died for my sin and rose from the grave signifying that His death was enough to pay my penalty. But He also came to give new life and a new direction. That new direction is available for all of us. This is true for us as individuals in our own story and also as we look toward the institution of marriage itself. Though we may be swimming upstream, the Kingdom view of sexuality and marriage is something that can bring healing and hope to a broken and hurting world. By the way we talk and act in regard to marriage; we can point the world back to God’s plan and God’s glory in marriage. It worked for Adam and Eve before sin entered the picture and it can work again for us today.