Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marriage is a gift from God

With the presidential elections coming up, candidates are always concerned about hot button issues. Making changes to Social Security and Medicare, the abortion issue with the right to choose set against the right to life for the unborn, taxes, what to do in Iraq, Afghanistan, and how to deal with the conflict in Syria, and nuclear issues with Iran. 
Over the last 8 years or so, one of the issues on voters’ minds has been the subject of marriage. It has become a political issue since some states have passed laws to recognize the marriages of same sex couples putting them on par with traditional marriage, a marriage between one man and one woman. While many states, in fact a majority I believe, have passed legislation protecting and defining the traditional definition of marriage, it still feels like we are losing ground in this regard. 
Marriage is certainly under attack or at least not respected. I keep hearing that the divorce rate is around 50 %. More and more couples are choosing to live together as husband and wife without the blessing of being married. While legislation to protect the estate of marriage is useful, the real solution to having a nation that respects the institution of marriage is by changing hearts, by letting the Holy Spirit through Word of God do its job. 
That’s what are lessons are about today. They are God’s reminder to us of his will regarding marriage, the home, and the raising of children. All are blessings from Him and will be blessings for us when we live our lives guided by his Word and will. These truths can be used by us to make our marriage better if we are married, equip us for the day we will marry ,if that is our situation, or equip us to be in a position to help and encourage a friend, co-worker, family member with their marriage. 
God’s record of creation, how this world came to be, is recorded for us in the book of Genesis. In chapter one God tells us what he did on each day and then how he ceased creating and rested on the seventh day which is called the Sabbath (the Hebrew word for ‘rest’. We tells us that the man and woman, male and female he made were the height of his work for he made them in his image and gave them a soul, something the animals were not given. 
In chapter two, verse four, God then begins the story of mankind. He begins at creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and man others. It is the story of salvation. The fall into sin and the promise of the Savior. In the New Testament we see those promises fulfilled as Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, came into this world, and laid down his life on the cross as our Savior.
In chapter two we find more details on the creation of man and woman that were not given in chapter one. As we review the events that took place during creation, one thing stands out. In a very orderly way God created the universe, world – all things. First he created light, made the continents, the fish, birds, animals and so on. At various times in the creation account, God stops and looks at what had been done and says, “And God saw that it was good.” He says it three or four times. Then something strange happens. It says he saw what was made and “It was not good.” Something was missing. 
Adam had been made by God from the dust of the ground. He took Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden. He told him to have dominion over all that was created. In other words, the world had been made for him, to be used by him. But Adam was alone. 
Instead of just making someone for Adam, he helped Adam to see that need for himself. God gave Adam and job to do. He was to give each of the animals their name. As Adam did his job, he would see first hand all the creatures God had made. He would see them all, male and female. All had their companion counterpart but not Adam. 
That’s when we hear God say, “No suitable helper was found.” And instead of hearing the Lord saying, “It was good,” we hear God say, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” He then made woman, Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs and brought her to Adam to be his wife. 
When Adam saw her, he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; and she shall be called “woman” for she was taken out of man.” 
God had made light by the power of his Word. He simply commanded it and it was done. He did that with the sun, moon, and stars, with the birds, animals, and fish. But man was different. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. Then, in a similar way, he made Eve, forming her after taking a rib from Adam. God then brought Eve to Adam to be his wife. This was the start of their life together as husband and wife. Adam would not be alone. He and Eve would have each other. Through this relationship, through marriage, as husband and wife, they would be richly blessed by God.
One of the main purposes of marriage is companionship. God established marriage so we would not be alone. 
I need to add here that Scripture makes it clear that not everyone will get married. Jesus never married; nor did Paul as far as we know. Some, as Scripture says, have the gift of being able to be happy as a single person. There are advantages as well. 
Anyone who is married understands what companionship is all about. Those who are happily married know what it means to be around their spouse. That does not mean we are around them every minute of every day. Yet when we are not with them we look forward to the time when we will be. That companionship keeps us from being lonely. It gives meaning to our lives as we share what goes on in our lives. If a spouse dies or a marriage breaks up, one of the hardest things to deal with is the loss of our companion. 
I also need to comment on the words, “a suitable helper.” These words are often misunderstood and misused. They are not meant to imply that man is the king and the wife his helper or servant. Husbands and wives should serve each other.  The idea of ‘helper’ carries with it the idea that Eve supplied the things Adam was lacking. His life would not have been complete without her. Married people often use the term “better half” to describe their spouse. Maybe a better term would be “perfect half” for they would be the perfect complement to each other.
You can find many passages from Scripture that use the word help or helper. It does not carry with it a negative connotation or a subservient role. When I am doing plumbing or electrical work, which I am not very good at, if I get in trouble, I call for someone to help me. That person is far more gifted and qualified than I am. So it is in marriage. Each partner is meant to compliment the other. 
Our text concludes “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.” Adam rejoiced over this gift from God. 
Some have defined marriage as “leaving and cleaving.” Those words come the KJV. They fit pretty well. When a man and woman get married, a new family is formed. While that means that they still honor their mother and father but their primary concern now will be to their marriage and the new home they have started. 
Sometimes marriage problems come up when we forget that. I read one story about someone newly married who had moved away with their spouse. After their first big fight, the wife called her Mom and Dad wanting to come back home. The reply she received is that she was home. Her home was now with her husband and they needed to work things out. 
It only takes a few moments to get married but it takes a life time to make a marriage work. We could spend weeks talking about the things that help make a marriage work. We can’t do it all today. Today we are simply reminded of some precious truths. God established marriage when he made Adam and  Eve and brought them together. Through that marriage, he gives us many blessings, the greatest of which is companionship. Blessings will flow into their lives as they live to love and serve each other and their Lord, treasuring the gift God gave them in their spouse. Since the Fall into sin, remember your spouse is not perfect. When you become disappointed in them because they aren’t everything you hoped they would be, take a look in the mirror. If you want your marriage to be a good one, work at being a good spouse. Remember you are both sinners. Be ready to forgive and ask for forgiveness. 
Ask God’s help to be a good spouse and seek his blessing on your marriage. To the glory of his name. Amen.