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The Truth about Marriage

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2022 12:01 am

The Truth about Marriage

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 6, 2022 12:01 am

God is the One who established the marriage relationship of husband and wife, and He did so with a purpose. Today, Michael Kruger presents the Bible's teaching on marriage and addresses the confusion in our world surrounding this institution.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind, the truth about marriage. We read in Genesis that God had a purpose for it, for procreation, for companionship, and for fulfilling the mandate to take dominion over His creation. This week on Renewing Your Mind, we're focusing on Christian ethics. And today, Dr. Michael Krueger shows us the ethical implications of God's design for marriage. If you think about marriage, there's one passage we have to begin with, Genesis chapter 2, verse 18. I want to read this short passage today. Then the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone.

I will make him a helper fit for him. And out of the ground, the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and every beast of the field.

But for Adam, there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, this is at last bone of my bones. Flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Now I can still remember where I was when I watched it on TV. It was July 28th, 1981 when a horse-drawn carriage pulled up to St. Paul's Cathedral in London and out stepped a 20-year-old lady, Diana Spencer. It was on all accounts a fairy tale. It was a modern Cinderella and Prince Charming, a woman who was not really a royal at all, not known, pretty much just simply a layperson marrying the man who one day would be king. And 750 million people tuned in.

Let that number sink in. 750 million people watched from 74 countries around the world. And the pomp and circumstance was unprecedented. There were many carriages that were horse-drawn.

There were the royal guard on the horses with their shiny helmets and lances. There were leaders and dignitaries from all over the globe to watch this single occasion. Adjusted for inflation, the wedding cost an estimated $135 million.

Those of you right now who have a daughter about to be married can feel just a little bit better about your budget. And then there was the dress. Everybody wanted to talk about the dress. In modern dollars they estimate now that dress would cost today $450,000.

The train was 25 feet long. No doubt you remember as you saw the procession down St. Paul's Cathedral how the train of her robe spanned what seemed to be the entire length of the aisle. It was on all accounts a dream come true.

But of course we all know the dream wouldn't last. Soon there was tension in the marriage. Soon there was coldness. Then there was fighting. Then after that there were rumors of affairs. And then five short years later in 1986 Prince Charles was able to declare that his marriage was irretrievably broken.

By 1996 the two had formally divorced and by 1997 so sadly Diana was dead having been killed in a car crash. What started out as a fairy tale wedding ended up being a Shakespearean tragedy. Now as I think about that wedding and I think about even that marriage I wonder if there's many other things in our world that can capture in one scenario the extremes of our world's view of marriage. On the one hand you have the overly romanticized view of marriage that marriage is the pinnacle of human existence and if you just find the right person all your problems will be solved and the birds will sing and the sun will shine. And on the flip side you have the most pessimistic view of marriage that marriage is awful, it's terrible, it ruins and shatters people's lives and leads in this case in some strange bizarre turn of events even to someone's death. It's perhaps not surprising then when you think about marriage in our modern world that it's fallen on tough times.

It's not just the story of Charles and Diana that's caused it to fall on tough times. You yourself know as you look around the world that there's this general malaise about marriage today. Yes, most people that we know are married I would imagine that most people in this room are probably married but being married doesn't mean you have the right view of marriage. Being married doesn't mean you rightly value marriage. And now we hear all kinds of things about marriage. That marriage is not really even necessary. That marriage is just a piece of paper. That marriage is overly restrictive and limiting. That marriage stifles individual identity.

That marriage is a 1950s cage to trap you in and on and on it goes. Of course we don't even have to talk today about how marriage is being challenged and redefined as our culture wants to go in all kinds of new pathways and directions. Perhaps it's not surprising then to learn as I learned just recently reading the US News and World Report that as of 2020 the frequency of marriage, the rate of marriage in our world is at an all time low. In fact since statistics were kept since the 1800s there has never been a time in all of modern history where people get married more infrequently in the western world. Of course it's not just declining rates of marriage that are interesting. It's also people are getting married later. They're older when they get married.

Let's let this stat set in. In 1978 people between the ages of 18 and 34, about 60% of them were married. 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 were married in 1978. Today that number has dropped to 29%.

Now when you look at these numbers it's disheartening. It would be all too easy I think to reach the conclusion that you know the reason marriage is on the rocks is because we live in a pagan world that doesn't love God and his word and I imagine in some sense that's true. There's no doubt in some sense it's true that marriage is having hard days because we live in a world that maybe just wants to buck up against scripture. But I want to also suggest though that many people struggle in their view of marriage not so much because they're anti-God's word, although they may be, but because they themselves have grown up watching and seeing a broken marriage. How many thousands of people have grown up in homes where they saw all the pain, all the division, all the dysfunctionality, all the heartbreak of a bad marriage? In other words, perhaps the malaise over marriage isn't just about people rejecting God's word, although it can be that. Perhaps the malaise about marriage is generations of broken marriage, generations of sin that have now had their effect. And honestly we can have compassion on those many, many people who find themselves coming out of marriages like that and wondering how they got there. In fact, statistically speaking I imagine there's probably many in this room who maybe have grown up in homes that were a broken marriage. Just statistically speaking you may have been in a very home where your parents were the ones that fought. Your parents maybe got divorced.

Maybe in your family there was infidelity. So marriage is having a rough go of it. So what we need today is in some sense a rehabilitation of this idea of marriage.

Now here's what I want to do. Based out of this passage in Genesis 2 that we read earlier in some of the surrounding verses, I want to just offer five truths about marriage today. Five truths. Now of course we'll move through these quickly, but these are five things that we want to at least say today about marriage. It's not all that can be said about marriage, but certainly something that we need to get out of the gate.

So let's jump into these five things together. First thing of the five, marriage is a divine institution. Marriage is God's idea. It was God who made the world. It was God who made humans.

It was God who made the male and female. And it was God that declared they should come together in marriage as one flesh in that passage we just read moments ago. What this means then is that of course marriage therefore is not the invention of any particular culture, any particular person, any particular philosophical sect. Marriage is not something that was formed by a nation, that predates countries, it predates governments. Marriage is authorized and instituted by God. And if marriage is given by God, that means God gets to regulate it. God gets to define it.

God gets to declare what it is and what it isn't. So the first thing I want you to take away today is that marriage is a divine institution. Now second thing to take away today of the five is that marriage is a good institution. Marriage is a good institution.

Now of course on one level you think well that's obvious. If God is the giver of marriage then isn't it clear that it's a good institution? Isn't it sort of built into the idea of God gives it? Well yes, but of course we've already seen that our world doesn't think it's good.

Our world doesn't think it's worth it. We see in this passage that marriage is good in a number of ways. Let me just mention a couple ways that it's good.

First it's good personally. Marriage is the way God has brought human beings together in intimate relationships. It's not the only way He does it. There's other ways that humans have fellowship, but the man and the woman is sort of the centerpiece of what it means for human beings to be in relational intimacy with one another. I want you to notice verse 18.

Notice this amazing statement. Then the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone. Now of course you know that if you just read Genesis 1 before this, Genesis 1 is a long litany of it is good. God made it and declared it to be good. God put something in place and declared it to be good. So it's good, it's good, it's good.

We get to verse 18 of chapter 2. It's not good. What's not good? Aloneness.

That man is by himself. And then he describes marriage with the greatest intimacy. Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. She shall even have a name like his name. Woman out of man. The Hebrew reflects this.

The Hebrew word for man, ish, woman is ishah. They're intimately linked. So intimate in fact that they're both naked and not ashamed. Truth be told, that's what we all want out of marriage. This beautiful picture of companionship, intimacy, that you could freely be with another person without fear or shame.

God knows your desire and he's given something for that. It's called marriage. It's interesting that God didn't just come up with this idea sort of out of the blue, the idea that people should be in relationships with one another because God is a relational God.

From eternity past, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Trinitarian, loving one another within the Godhead. So is it no surprise then that he builds marriage as the wonderful fulfillment of what relationships can and should be. So marriage is good personally, but it's not just good personally. Here's another thing about it being good that's important. It's also good globally.

It's good for the world. Here's a mistake that's often made in discussions about marriage. People think that marriage is basically all about us. That marriage is only about my personal fulfillment. That marriage is just an existential thing to make me feel good individually.

Well God does want to bless you personally. God does want to give you intimacy, but marriage is much bigger than that. Marriage is about more than us. What is marriage about? God's plan for the world.

Let me explain what I mean by this. Genesis 1-28, here's what he says, be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it. As I said, this is in theological terms known as the dominion mandate and it's very simple. God has given the world to humans to have dominion over and his number one goal at this point is I want you to fill it up. I want you to multiply. Now you might think, why is God so concerned about this? Why does God have it on his agenda? I want you to fill up the world. I want you to spread little human beings all over the world.

Well there's a reason for that. God made human beings in his image. They reflect his glory. When you see a human being, you see a reflection of their creator.

They are little bitty images of God all over the world. What's one of the greatest joys for parents? When you have a child and someone comes up to you and says, oh, your little boy looks like their father.

The little daughter looks like their mother. And there's a sense in which children are little images of their parents. It's so that way also with the divine image in each one of us. Each person out there reflects God's image, even if they're not a Christian, even if they're not a believer. So why does God want to spread human beings all over the world? Because it glorifies him to have his image all over the world. To increase and multiply is a way that God is glorified as his image is spread.

And here's the key. That spreading happens through marriage. God has given marriage as not just a blessing for us individually and personally, yes, but globally it blesses the world. Do you realize that even out there in the world, even if they're not believers, even if they're not even Christians, even if they're another religion, if someone gets married and has children, there's a sense in which that glorifies God by virtue of fulfilling the dominion mandate and bringing more image bearers into the world to give him glory. Marriage is a good institution. Okay, on to the third thing. Marriage though thirdly here is a fallen institution.

A fallen institution. When you read Genesis, if you're like me you think to yourself, wow, that sounded like a really good idea what God had lined up here. And then things went really badly. We know in the very next chapter here, chapter three, that it wasn't long after God established this wonderful marriage concept that there was the rebellion of Adam and Eve, there was the bringing of sin into the world, there was the fall and the curse, and things that started off so good so quickly went bad. Have you ever thought about all the ways marriage is affected by the fall? We don't have time to turn to Genesis three and go through them all, but let me just mention a few of the things that the fall has done to marriage that we pick up in Genesis three. First, the intimacy is gone. Remember, you could be together naked and unashamed because of that great intimacy, but then we realize once they've sinned, they realize their nakedness and they're ashamed, and they go out to get fig leaves to cover their nakedness.

And you realize there's a sense in which now there's a break in the intimacy. A second thing that happens is they begin to fight with one another and blame each other. God comes to confront them about the fact that they've eaten of the tree and he asks Adam, what's the deal here?

And of course Adam does what every man has done ever since for thousands of years. It's that woman you gave me. I wonder how their dinner conversation went that night after that wonderful move. But it's not just that they have this broken relationship. Now there's almost war with one another. We read in 3.16 that the woman now is quote, against her husband. And we also read that the husband will rule over his wife.

And almost all scholars there take that as ruling over in a domineering, harsh, and sadly even sometimes abusive ways, which also has played out in our world for thousands of years. And then on top of all of this, the fall has affected the dominion mandate. The idea that you go out and you increase and multiply. Now childbearing is harder. Now we have infertility. Now we have all the problems that flow out of the fall in sin. What does that mean for today?

It means what you already know before you even walked in here today. Marriage is hard. Even when it's good, it's hard. Even the best marriages can be hard. Even marriages between believers can be hard.

Now of course in one sense you don't need me to tell you that. But our world, as we've already indicated, still has this overly romanticized, idealized way of looking at marriage that will backfire on you someday if you don't take into account the fallen nature of marriage in our world today. And even believers have started following that ideal. If you're going to survive in marriage today in a fallen world, it will not happen on its own.

It does not just happen naturally. You don't drift into a good marriage. If there's a fall, if it's broken, if we're sinners, then marriage requires gospel-saturated, grace-motivated, scripture-guided diligence from both individuals and churches to make it. We need a new perspective on marriage that has to be looked at through the gospel. And on that score, that leads to a fourth thing today about marriage, and that is, fourthly, marriage is a redemptive institution. Marriage is a redemptive institution. After reading all the things that went wrong with marriage in chapter 3, if you're like me, you're like, well, things started off great, went bad.

It's like the Diana and Charles wedding, right? You have this wonderful optimism and then total destruction. You're like, what could ever be done? And God says, I'm going to do something.

All of the things caused by the fall, I'm going to fix. And He promises it, of course, in verse 15 of chapter 3, what is the proto-gospel of the whole Bible, the first promise of grace. God makes a declaration to the devil, I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring.

He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel. In other words, Genesis 3.15 is the first promise of a Savior. A baby will be born at some day down the road from a woman, from a marriage. A baby will be born, and this baby will be the Savior who will crush the serpent's head.

He will be the snake killer that defeats the devil. Here's the thing I want you to realize, is that marriage is a redemptive institution because through marriage, through generations of families, God was going to bring a Savior. He was going to bring a child born into the world to redeem it. Marriage is a mechanism then which God would bring the Redeemer to save His people from their sins. But that just leads up to the fifth and final thing here this morning, which is really where all this goes to. Marriage is all the things we've said thus far, but it's also, fifth and finally, a gospel institution.

A gospel institution. Let me explain what I mean by this. As soon as we talk so much about how wonderful marriage is, and it is, as soon as we talk about how important marriage is, and it is, there is a mistake that can be made. It's a mistake that I see a lot, and it's a mistake that is easy for us to grasp a hold of.

And here's what the danger is. When we look at how important and central marriage is to God's plan, some can think therefore that marriage is the pinnacle of all human existence. That without marriage, somehow someone is defective or deficient, and that the height of human existence is to finally be married and all your problems will be solved. But marriage is not the pinnacle of human existence. Marriage is pointing to something beyond itself.

What is it looking forward to? Paul actually tells us this in another passage you know well, Ephesians 5, that wonderful passage about marriage and husbands and wives and how they should treat each other, interact with each other, the roles of a husband and wife. It's such a critical passage, but at the end of all this discussion of marriage, Paul does a stunning move in Ephesians 5, 32 when he says this, this mystery I'm talking about of marriage. This mystery is profound and I'm saying that yet marriage refers to Christ and the church. Marriage is a blessing, yes. Marriage is good, yes.

Marriage is important, yes. But marriage is actually not about marriage. Marriage is about something better, something bigger, something greater to come, namely the wedding day between Christ and his church. Marriage is about the gospel. Marriage is about what's going to happen in the new heavens and the new earth. Everybody in this room, married, single, children, no children, doesn't matter, all of us have a wedding to plan. All of us have a wedding to look forward to. Be about that wedding. Plan for it, long for it, look for it, because someday the groom is coming to claim his bride for himself, and that will be the greatest wedding imaginable. That description of marriage shines a bright light on the brokenness in the culture around us.

Marriage is God's idea, and He gets to define it. Our focus this week on Renewing Your Mind is Upholding Christian Ethics. That was the theme of our 2022 Ligonier National Conference here in Orlando last March, and each message this week comes from that conference. Every speaker helped us see that the holy character of God is the absolute standard of right and wrong. God has spoken.

Therefore, to reject Him and abandon His Word is to undermine the foundation of morality. I hope you can see the value of a conference like this. Our speakers addressed the issues our culture faces today and helped us apply biblical truth right where it's needed. And it's only through your generosity that we can make content like this available, resources that are making a difference in the lives of people like this Ligonier ministry partner who contacted us recently.

I am 61 years old with 11 kids and 22 grandkids and still working full-time. I have hundreds of books and media in my home library that I've gotten from Ligonier over the years. It has helped me so much with my spiritual growth, and I try to bless my kids and grandkids with it as much as I can. I really appreciate a ministry that I can trust knowing my partnership prayers and money are being used wisely and as biblical as possible. I appreciate Ligonier ministries and love directing others to the ministry.

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You can sign up online at, or you can call us at 800-435-4343. Well, tomorrow we're going to feature one of our Q&A sessions from this year's conference, and here are a couple of questions our speakers will tackle. Can we go to the wedding of a heterosexual couple who claims to be believers but are sleeping together? Are we not to attend a homosexual wedding? Does attendance essentially make us a witness?

And if we are a witness at a wedding that dishonors God, is that a sin and can it ever be biblically justified? Answers to those and other questions tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll join us. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 17:48:28 / 2023-03-01 17:58:08 / 10

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