October 4, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
(1. Oops!:) Marriage is all screwed up.
That’s what we see out in the world today. It’s obvious things aren’t as they once were. If we wanted to talk in terms of natural law, things have gone all wrong. It’s seen also in the theological view of marriage: that marriage is a living picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the Church. That’s what Paul talks about in Ephesians 5: Christ saves His bride. The Church is saved by her husband. Christ doesn’t die for Himself, He doesn’t save Himself, but He dies, He saves His bride, the Church. So also the Church doesn’t save herself, she doesn’t make herself perfect, but she is saved, made perfect by her husband, Christ. The putting together of two Christs, or two Churches breaks the living picture God made, as Jesus says, “From the beginning of creation, “Male and female He created them.’”
Besides the present day redefining of marriage, there was already some redefining that’s gone on. Jesus says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Except of course when they “fall out of love.” whatever that means. Now husbands and wives can just go their separate ways just because they feel like it. It’s no one’s fault really. So, just get a divorce. They had their pre-nup and already had their own bank accounts, their own vacations, their own bedrooms, their own lives, really. The world says that marriage is just a contract between consenting people, and contracts can be renegotiated and done away with. Why not marriage too?
But it’s not just the world that screws up marriage.
(2. Ugh!:) We Christians help screw it up.
We fall into the thinking that marriage is a contract. The Pharisees seem to. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” the Pharisees ask. “Come on, Jesus. All we need to do is get a certificate saying the contract’s done with.” Maybe we fall into that too. Well, you’ve got two consenting adults, and they’ve got butterflies-in-their-stomachs for each other. So they sign on the dotted line, and they’re married. But marriage isn’t based on love or how many butterflies you have in your stomach. It’s based upon what God Himself had given. “God made them male and female.” God had given Adam to Eve and made Eve especially for Adam. No prenups. No contracts. No butterflies before hand. You see, true love between a husband and wife is based upon the fact that their married, that God has joined them together, and not the other way round. It’s no legal contract, but a God-given gift to be cherished and enjoyed.
But we’ve got more problems as Christians when it comes to marriage. We view divorce as commonplace. It’s just a part of reality. While it’s sad, we just shrug it off and move on. We no longer view marriage as something holy that was given to man and woman. Marriage is a living image of Christ and His Church, and if divorce is to be viewed as commonplace even by Christians, then I guess we should think of Christ divorcing His Church as commonplace. Divorce is a result of sin. Divorce is sin. Don’t think that it’s even allowed. It’s allowed only because of sin. Jesus says, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” Men would get rid of their wives and not provide for them. This was to protect wives from wicked husbands. All divorce is sin.
And there’s so many other ways we devalue, corrupt, and distort marriage. We lust after others. We like a movie or TV show because of who’s playing in it. We may follow celebrities for the same reason: they catch our eye. How many are led away from a true confession of the Christian faith as we have it because of who they married?
We remain silent when we should speak. We let things slip away. We redefine. We do all these things because of pressure from the world, from our family members, and even from inside our own hearts and minds. That doesn’t mean we are harsh to others who have fallen into sin, even sins against marriage and the sixth commandment. As Paul says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
We correct gently and with love because Christ forgives us, and
(3. Aha!:) Christ forgives us for our sins against marriage.
Now, if you don’t like all this talk about sin and all the ways there is sin against God’s good gift in marriage, well that’s just how sinners react to being called sinners! I do it too! It may not be this particular sin, but if you find the right one, I’ll react just the same way. We’re all fine and good to say that we’re sinners, but we’re not real sinners. But we have flesh and blood sins that we’ve committed against flesh and blood people. Our spouses. Our neighbors. Our friends. Our sins have life to them even as they hurt the lives of those around us, even as they hurt our own lives.
But our flesh and blood sins have been forgiven by a flesh and blood Savior, a God who took on human flesh. Jesus came to bear our sins in His own body. He gave Himself up for His bride, the Church, to save her. To save you and me from our flesh and blood sins. There is no sin that isn’t forgiven by His flesh hung on the cross and His blood shed there. There is no sin that isn’t washed away in the Holy Font, no sin that isn’t quenched by the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood given for you. That’s what Christ does for us and all our sins, even our sin of screwing up marriage in so many ways.
But there’s even more comfort for you, dear Christian. You see,
(4. Whee!:) WHEN WE SIN AGAINST MARRIAGE, CHRIST STILL TAKES US IN HIS ARMS AS HIS FATHER’S CHILDREN.
That’s the comfort of our text today. WHEN WE SIN AGAINST MARRIAGE, CHRIST STILL TAKES US IN HIS ARMS AS HIS FATHER’S CHILDREN. Just listen again to what Mark 10 says, “They were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
This is what we need to keep in mind:
(5. Yeah!:) We’re always God’s baptized children.
Our identity isn’t adulterer, or divorcee, or philanderer, or commandment-breaker, or whatever else. We are God’s baptized children. That’s our identity. That’s how God our heavenly Father sees you: His child, baptized in His Son’s blood and with the Holy Spirit. Nothing can change that. And so when the skeletons of our flesh and blood sins rattle in the closets of our consciences, we must with simple child-like faith remember who we are: God’s baptized child. Those sins are long gone. God doesn’t even know what they are anymore. They can’t be in the closet. Christ left them in the tomb. We look to who our Father says we are, and not what our sins say we are. Our Father says you’re His child, and that’s exactly who you are, now and forever.
INI + AMEN.