Sunday, April 20, 2014
Pastor Bill Cripe
Perhaps you saw our sign that read, "Yes, we have made a mess of traditional marriage but the answer is to refine it, not redefine it."
I'm afraid that what follows may be deemed irrelevant to many readers since our culture has receded further and further away from the Bible as the informing authority of our culture. I do understand this, but to the many people of central Maine wearing the name "Christian," perhaps my explanation will be helpful for why we must stand against same-sex marriage.
The historical record of Genesis 2, though squeezed through a cultural sieve yielding something unrecognizable from what the Bible actually states, is still true.
In all of creation there was no companion suitable for Adam, so God made the perfect mate fashioning her, not from the dust as Adam and the animals were, but from Adam's own flesh.
The text states, "For this cause (because woman was formed out of the flesh and bone of man) a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."
This spectacular act of creation, taking the woman from the man, is the basis for the unique relationship in which a man and woman separate from their parents becoming intimately woven together in body, soul and spirit. This is what the Creator called "marriage" and "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth...'"
So God made the prototypical family, fundamentally for the perpetuation of the human race, thus defining the singular way for legitimate reproduction being fulfilled in the context of the relationship called "marriage."
The uniqueness and importance of marriage is further explained in the New Testament book of Ephesians, (chapter 5:22ff) where the apostle Paul writes, "Husbands, love your wives the same way Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her..."
This is profound. How did Christ love the Church? Jesus held back nothing for the sake of the Church, which is called His "bride." God, addressing all men, says this is how they are supposed to love their wives.
Addressing women, the passage continues saying, "Wives, be respectful to your own husbands, as to the Lord just as the Church is to Christ..."
In God's wise counsel, He defines two distinct roles in marriage -- one for the male and one for the female -- concluding with, "This mystery is great," informing us He is referring to "Christ and the Church."
In other words, the "mystery" is that marriage is intended to be a living drama -- a real-time portrayal -- of the message of God's love for mankind and His desire for everyone to be with Him in eternity. But for that to happen, man's failings had to be addressed, and Jesus was the only one qualified to do so.
Called the Gospel, this is the most important message from God in all the world making God's purpose for marriage clear: In this special union the man represents Jesus and the woman represents his "bride," the Church.
So the salient problem with same-sex "marriage" is that the cast of characters is changed in that living drama, irreparably damaging God's message of hope and making the message of marriage unintelligible.
Based on God's picture of relating husband and wife to Christ and the Church, a marriage consisting of two men portrays two Jesuses, with the living picture becoming Jesus enamored with Himself. A marriage consisting of two women portrays two Churches, (brides) and the living picture becomes a church without loving leadership in relationship with itself.
The bottom line is that altering the definition of marriage from one man and one woman makes nonsense of the most precious message of history. That is something God simply cannot "bless."
I understand all too well that same-sex marriage is not the only assault on God's plan for marriage.
Heterosexual "shacking up," "hooking up," and any other iteration of some other "quasi-marital" counterfeit, likewise distorts the message portraying a "Church" uncommitted to the Lord and a Lord selfishly using His church, taking what He can and then abandoning His "Bride."
Together it all means, any form of "marriage" that inherently eliminates the potential fulfillment of what is called a creation ordinance -- in this case, to multiply and fill the earth -- does not properly portray the glorious message of Christ's love for HGis Church.
Such relationships may be called many things, but "marriage" is not one of them.
Pastor Bill Cripe is senior pastor of Faith Evangelical Free Church in Waterville.