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One Flesh - Peter Sprigg

One Flesh - Peter Sprigg

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Published by G-A-Y

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Published by: G-A-Y on Feb 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Scripture Text: Genesis 2:18-24
Introduction: Marriage Under Siege
 Marriage is in trouble in America.
The traditional idea that marriage is a lifelong commitment has been undermined by thedivorce revolution. Today, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.
The traditional idea that marriage is the only appropriate context for sexual relations has been undermined by the sexual revolution. Premarital sex, cohabitation, promiscuity, andinfidelity all stretch traditional boundaries to the breaking point.
 Now, the most fundamental definition of marriage itself - as the union of one man andone woman - is being challenged by homosexuals who demand the right for same-sexcouples to "marry."Yet at the same time, social science research has uncovered a large and growing body of evidence that marriage has significant benefits for husbands and wives, and for their children.Put simply, families headed by married husbands and wives are:
more prosperousthan people in other types of households.Given the clear social benefits of marriage, and the threats now facing it, it is important to ask,what can we as the church do to protect marriage from being deconstructed, redefined, or simplyrendered irrelevant?To answer that question, we must first address a more fundamental one:
I. What is Marriage For?
 Marriage is an institution created by God. That much is clear from Genesis 2:18-24 (NIV):
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the mancalled each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he broughther to the man.
The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.Because it was included as a part of the original creation, it is clear that God's fundamentalintention for marriage applies to all human beings. However, a look at the whole of Scripturereveals that marriage has special meanings for the people of God.
A. Theological Meanings of Marriage
1. Reflecting the Nature of God
 The Christian doctrine of the Trinity says that there is only one God, but that God exists as three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Spirit are the same in that they all possess the same divine nature; yet they differ in roles and personality.This combination of "sameness" and "difference" also characterizes humanity. Indeed, it may bethis combination that reflects "the image of God" (Gen. 1:26). In Genesis 2, Adam names theanimals, but they are not "suitable" companions for him, because they are not the same as him -they are not human. To create a "suitable helper" for Adam, God takes a part of Adam's body tofashion one the same as Adam - another human being. Yet the person God creates is alsodifferent from Adam - a woman, not a man. The human race is incomplete without both maleand female. Yet when they unite to become "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24), their oneness - despite their difference - reflects the oneness of God, despite the plurality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2. Symbolism of Marriage
a. Old Testament
 In the Old Testament, the covenant of marriage serves as a metaphor for the relationship betweenGod and the people of Israel.The worship of other gods (idolatry) is viewed as the equivalent of adultery, with Israel as theunfaithful spouse. (see Jeremiah 3:6, 8)
b. New Testament
In the New Testament, marriage is seen as a metaphor of the relationship between Christ and theChurch. (Ephesians 5:21-33; Revelation 19:7-9).
3. Marriage advances God's purpose in salvation
a. Old Testament
 In the Old Testament, God's desire to live in community with humankind (those who bear hisimage, yet are different from him) is manifest in his relationship with the nation of Israel. Yet thenation is the outgrowth of the 12 tribes, which are the outgrowth of extended patriarchal families,which are the fruit of marriage and procreation. Thus, marriage is the seed for the community of God's people on earth.
b. New Testament
 In the New Testament, loyalty to the biological family of nation and tribe is largely supplanted by loyalty to the family of Christ - that is, the universal church. However, marriage, family, andhome retain important roles in the spread of God's kingdom through evangelism. This role isfulfilled in the witness of a believing spouse (1 Peter 3:1-6), in the teaching of children(Ephesians 6:4), and in the service to the church offered by couples such as Priscilla and Aquila(1 Corinthians 16:19).
B. Universal Purposes of Marriage
 While marriage has certain specific meanings, both symbolic and functional, within the order of salvation, it also has some broader purposes that are rooted in the order of creation itself.Therefore, these purposes apply to all marriages, even those of unbelievers or of other faiths.These purposes must therefore lie at the heart of our civil laws defining and regulating marriage.
1. Companionship
 Psychologists say that human beings have a fundamental need for "stable primary bondings"with other people. Yet that merely confirms the Genesis account, in which God says simply, "Itis not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). It is to provide "a helper suitable for him"that God creates the woman. And the two becoming "one flesh" is in part a spiritual eventreflecting the emotional bonding of the two.However, there is danger in assuming that companionship alone defines the purpose of marriage.Homosexual activists argue that this is the case, and that therefore same-sex pairings that providea desired companion should also be recognized as marriage. Yet this same Genesis passage thatspeaks of the man's need for companionship (Gen. 2:18-24) also clearly shows God filling thatneed with another person who is like the man, yet also different. She is someone who, by beingof the opposite sex, serves to complement the man, not merely mirror him. Marriage unitesopposites, each of whom has what the other lacks, and only in this way does it resolve theincompleteness that each feels when alone.

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