by Rev Dr Bill Brown, National Chair, Aust Baptist Ministries
Jesus shares the Maker’s guidelines for marriage.
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 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’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
“The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:10-12)
In the Gospel of Matthew in chapters 19 and 20 we find accounts of Jesus making statements about a range of issues including marriage and divorce. In each instance, Jesus shows the upside down nature of the kingdom he came to inaugurate. Surprises for people were coupled with the compassionate and caring response of Jesus to people who were struggling to make sense of, or struggling with, life. In the first of these, instead of talking primarily about divorce, Jesus goes behind the breakdown of marriage and goes back to the Maker’s guidelines (in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24) and identifies several insights.
Insight 1: God created/instituted marriage to be no mere social contract but something that God said … ordained.
Insight 2: Marriage was meant to be complementary …‘male and female’. There are differences and complementarity.
Insight 3: Marriage was intended to be permanent – ‘one flesh’ and ‘united’ carry the idea of being ‘glued’.
Insight 4: Marriage was meant to be exclusive – one woman with one man.
Insight 5: Marriage is the development of a new family … ‘leaving and becoming one’ … Priority allegiance moves from parents to spouse, the distancing from one to create a new unit.
Insight 6: Marriage provides the context for a child to have parents of both genders … ‘leave father and mother’. This is the preferred context for families while acknowledging that it doesn’t always work out helpfully.
Insight 7: Marriage is not necessarily for everyone. Jesus specifies in Matthew 19:10-12 three reasons and there could be others. Jesus says some will not marry because of congenital aspects; some because they have been made court eunuchs, a custom that is unusual in western civilisation; some because of a choice to remain celibate so they can devote all their time and energy to Jesus and kingdom purposes.
In summary: Every human being has value and dignity and the right to make their choice of lifestyle. Marriage is an incredibly profound intimate bond between a woman and a man. It is the basic cell of society and Jesus stresses that God initiated it and wants to preserve it. It is unique in that it is also designed and equipped for the proliferation of the human species (see Genesis 1:28). It is not that a law, a state or a Church invented it. Rather it has been recognised as a pre-existing direction that has its roots in biological, physiological and social realities. The apostle Paul would actually add that it reflects a spiritual reality between Christ and the Church as well (see Ephesians 5:32).
Creator God, thank you for your guidelines for marriage and family life. Please be our source of wisdom as we, as a nation, express our opinion in the postal survey. We ask for forgiveness for the times we have neglected to seek your perspective and guidance in these matters. Please grant courage and wisdom to our leaders as they make decisions that impact our society and the families of our nation. Please help us to be people of grace and help us to show respect as we engage with all people around these matters. We offer you these prayers in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUGyq– Dancing in the Minefields
Canberra Declaration Daily Prayer Points for October
- A Miracle for Marriage
- Truth to be Exposed
- A Spirit of Repentance in the Church
- Revival and Transformation in our Nation