If someone is interested in what God thinks about marriage, it does not take long to find the answer. Just open the Bible and read the opening verse, “In the beginning God created” (Gen. 1:1), and it will only take a few minutes until you come to God creating a man and a woman and bringing them together in a union designed by Him. From those opening verses through the remainder of Scripture, marriage will remain the same from the heart of God. Recently there has been a media blitz campaign across Mississippi seeking to reeducate us in new forms of marriage. It has been a well-funded, highly publicized effort to help us understand that this is a new day and there are new ways, but most of all, it would lead us away from the biblical truth of what God intended for His race.
Why was Mississippi targeted? There are multiplicities of reasons, two of which stand out above all others. The first one is because we in Mississippi hold strongly to biblical values and anything that takes away from them, we are slow to embrace. The other thing is that surveys indicate that people in Mississippi hold to the traditional biblical view of marriage more than any other state in the nation. That is something that we neither need to be ashamed of or apologetic of, but what should we do and what must we do when it comes to understanding and trying to relate to old ideas, repackaged and pushed in human rights clothing?
We must begin with a description of marriage. In the creative work of our great God, He formed the world and everything therein; it was good. Then God created a man and woman and He brought them together. To think that first man and that first woman were united by God in marriage and the Lord said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24). That oneness was all encompassing so that they would have love and care, support and encouragement for one another, so that they could live even as the Scripture describes, “Two are better than one” (Eccles. 4:9) in an environment to bless one another. Beyond that was the blessing of the perpetuation of the race itself. At the outset, God recognized the wonder and the goodness of the marriage relationship and the theme of that blessing flows all the way through Scripture.
If that was the plan of God, it is impossible not to see and recognize the ongoing turbulence that comes in our world because of the disruption of marriage. Marriage was presented in Scripture in idealistic forms but also recognized the practicality of people being sinners. So marriage again and again has experienced attack and disruption sometimes because of others, but more often because of our own sinful desires. In the garden a beautiful couple in a perfect environment desired to have what God did not design for them and when they took of the tree their lives and their relationships were disrupted. They were fearful, non-supportive, accusatory, guilty. The disruption came and still does because of insufficiencies in our understanding and care of one another. Some disruptions come because of extramarital affairs. While making commitments to each other, it is not unusual for a marriage to be harmed and even destroyed because a man or a woman becomes involved in a relationship that is outside of marriage and suddenly the trust relationship in every area of the commitment becomes suspect.
Sometimes the biblical pattern is affected or disrupted because of unintended relationships. Throughout history and even in Scripture, the reality of some people stepping away from the plan and design of God to seek same-sex partners has been recorded. In Romans, Chapter 1, the apostle Paul writes about this wrong and indicates that it not only leads someone away from God’s plan, it leads them away from God. When you look at the various disruptions in marriage, you can only come to the conclusion that all of them are harmful. What should we do?
One, we need to reaffirm that we believe in the perfect plan of God concerning marriage. Though we may not be perfect, and certainly we like everyone else have sinned, God’s plan is the perfect design. That means that we should be people who seek to be the best, God-guided mate that our husband or wife could ever have. A high standard? Absolutely. That means also that before we clamor too much about the wrongness of same-sex relationships being called marriage, we need to tend to the wrongness of anything we participate in that brings destruction to the plan of God.
Second, we must be adamant to declare that like everyone else, we too have sinned and come short of the glory of God. When you gather on Sunday morning to worship the living God, it is always healthy to recognize that everyone there, saints and sinners alike, are in fact all sinners and some have just been touched and transformed by the grace of God. Recently I was in a church preaching on Sunday morning and was amazed to hear the stories of the people who were there.
One lady who had come to know the living Lord in the environment of a caring church had escaped a living relationship that she knew was wrong, unhealthy and unhelpful to her, but she felt there was no way out. Though her companion would not attend church, she came to church and met the Jesus that can break the chains and give new life.
I visited with a young man who wanted to talk to me about how God leads people to be in ministry and then he explained to me that it would be impossible for him to ever be used of God because he had been in prison. For two years he had been out of his prison garb and he had come to this church, invited by one of the men, and there he had met Jesus. Still struggling after two years of freedom from prison and freedom in the Lord, he struggled with how God could use somebody like him, but clearly, the Lord was using him. That is the ongoing story of the church and our wonderful Savior.
A final word of declaration is that we believe and affirm that God loves all of us and regardless of where we’ve been, what we’ve done or the mess that we’ve made of the plan that He has for us, He still cares. There is good news from heaven that Jesus Christ can come and save from the depths of our sin to the uttermost of His love and no one is to be excluded from the transforming grace of God in Christ Jesus. A friend of mine described his condition before he came to know the Lord. He said that he was so sorry and so far away from God he didn’t even know if they would let him in the door when he came to church, but he was hurting so bad that he thought he would give it a try. He came and came back and each time he saw the wonder of God at work in people and heard the message of Jesus that could make a difference in his life. Since he had tried everything else and nothing worked, he wanted to trust Jesus and he did and Jesus saved him. He still refers to himself as a notorious sinner because a lot of people knew him in his notorious days, but now he is a gift of grace, saved by the power of Jesus.
So we anchor our lives, our eternity, and our marriages to the God who said, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). We will follow Him.