Episode 3-5, Pastors' Equipping Series: Explaining How Perfectly Right Jesus Got It on Marriage

Episode 5 February 19, 2022 00:27:33
Episode 3-5, Pastors' Equipping Series: Explaining How Perfectly Right Jesus Got It on Marriage
Thinking Christian
Episode 3-5, Pastors' Equipping Series: Explaining How Perfectly Right Jesus Got It on Marriage

Feb 19 2022 | 00:27:33


Show Notes

Jesus got marriage right. Really right, and right in ways the rest of us can really appreciate, if we think about it in the right context. So His teaching provides a good introduction to biblical teaching on all sexual morality, for those who aren’t so sure the Bible gets it right.

This sermon accompanies a Pastors’ Corner article at The Stream, where I’m a writer and senior editor. It’s in the Practical Ministry Explainer series, and it’s titled “How to Begin Teaching the Truth About Homosexuality.” It’s for pastors who want to begin teaching especially on homosexuality but aren’t sure where to start or what fireworks they may set off. This is the first in a series of steps toward complete and open teaching on sex, sexuality, and gender. And it’s got a couple of creative twists in it that I think you’ll enjoy.

We’d love to get pastors’ feedback on the Pastors’ Corner, both here and at The Stream. We’re asking you help us help you by filling out a short questionnaire to let us know how we’re doing and how we can serve you better.

We invite you to use this message not just as information but as a sample sermon. We do ask that in your bulletin and online postings you give credit to Tom Gilson and to The Stream, with whom this work is being done in cooperation, with links both to The Stream and to this podcast page. Download the transcript for a written form of this sermon as well.

If you’re not a pastor, please consider yourself a member of the congregation listening and learning. You’re most welcome here! And then do please send this podcast to your pastor. There’ll be more like it to come!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:08 Welcome to the thinking Christian podcast, your weekly guy to solid Christian thinking on culture science, faith, and Christian confidence hosted by Tom Gilson. Speaker 2 00:00:22 Hello, I'm Tom Gilson. Today's thinking Christian podcast is a sample sermon produced to support a column that I published at the stream on February 19th, 2022. It's actually being published simultaneously with this podcast in that column. My purpose was to provide some guidance for pastors in how to preach on homosexuality in a church where they have never done. So before this is specifically for churches that haven't preached on it before now, the message that I've got here is not only for that purpose. It's a message about marriage, why it's important, how it's important and how we can be confident that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he made marriage, the way he did that. God knew what he was doing when he created it that way. From the very beginning, besides talking about marriage, though, this will begin to move us in a direction of understanding why God made sexual morality to be what sexual morality is in his world and why it's a good thing that he made it that way. Speaker 2 00:01:31 My overall point here, my overall purpose is to begin moving people from a position where they think that homosexuality is just good. That it's just a natural thing to think that it's good and begin to understand gradually through a step-by-step process of persuasion that traditional morality, biblical morality really is better for us. Not just a God commanded it, but that he commanded it because it is good that he commanded it that way because he is good. But again, it's not only for that purpose. It's also for understanding why marriage is good itself. The way God created it. It's kind of got a couple of creative twists in it too. So here we begin, our tux for today is Matthew 19 verses one through 10. When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan, large crowds followed him and he healed them there. Speaker 2 00:02:32 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife or any? And every reason haven't you read, he replied that at the beginning, the creator made them male and female and said, for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be United to his wife. And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate why. Then they asked, did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away. Jesus replied, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard, but it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another woman commits adultery, my how times have changed. Speaker 2 00:03:29 And one big sign of that is the way a pastor has to preach a passage like this one. It used to be that you'd read a passage like this, and you'd talk about how to keep your marriage strong and faithful, which is still relevant obviously. And it's a really important topic to cover based on this passage. But times have changed as I said, and a whole new question has come up with this passage at the very center of it, because it seems before you can even talk about how to keep a marriage strong. You have to talk about what marriage is. Marriage has come under enormous pressure, even the definition of marriage, what it means and what it's for. And I'll bet that some of you, when you hear me say that, you're going to think that the question is about same-sex marriage. Actually, the problem is a whole lot older than that. Speaker 2 00:04:20 It goes back years, even decades. So this isn't a talk about same-sex marriage. It's a talk about marriage and here's what I want to do in today's message. I want to talk about what marriage is from several different directions. I'm going to start with Jesus' view of marriage from the passage we already read, and then we're going to take various seriously. We have to recognize there are challenges to Jesus. You people all over America asking, did Jesus really know what he was talking about? Isn't there another way. Can't we be more creative than that? Can't we have new ways of thinking about marriage. We're going to take that question seriously. And I'm going to answer that by looking at reality from a direction I'll bet you have never thought about it before. This is going to be a, uh, an imaginary view of reality. It's just going to be a different view than you've probably thought about before. Speaker 2 00:05:13 You'll see. When I get there, we're going to discover that marriage is in the end, loving the way God loves and that Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about. So again, Jesus' view of marriage challenges to Cheese's view than answering the question from a different look at reality, discovering that marriage is loving. Like God loves him. That Jesus knew what he was talking about. Now there are very practical implications to this because if we don't know what marriage is, how are we going to keep it strong? How were we going to keep it strong? And how are we going to keep marriage strong in a culture that defies the meaning of marriage? So there's our question. It's an important question. It's a crucial question. Did Jesus get it right? Did Jesus get it right? Or do we need to go with some of these new novel ways of understanding marriage, sex and relationships? Speaker 2 00:06:12 Well, first of all, he was God in the flesh. That's a pretty unbeatable advantage here. He had to have had it, right? He was the one true logos, the living word of God. Therefore what he taught was true, but I know a lot of people think they have a better idea. They think trial marriages, for example, or a good idea. They think marriage can fit in all kinds of other shapes and forms. They think sex doesn't have to have anything to do with marriage. But I believe, I believe that we can show that Jesus was right. That Jesus was right. We can do it by looking at life. In other words, this is one of those cases where the question isn't so much is the Bible true, but is the Bible good? I believe it's true. I want everybody to believe it's true, but for a lot of people, the first question isn't whether it's true, but whether it's good and they'll look at a passage like this and they'll say, well, this passage isn't any good. Speaker 2 00:07:08 So how could it be true? Well, I want to show that it's good. And maybe then you can, or your friends that you're talking to can be more open to the reality that it's true. Sometimes you have to be satisfied that it's good before you can even approach the question of whether it's true. And I think there's a way to help us realize just how good Jesus teaching is here. And that's what we're going to do. And this is the part where I move into the different perspective that you've probably never thought about before. It was so normal once, but not to us anymore. Because what I'm going to do is I'm going to take us back in time, back in time back, maybe a hundred years or so. But back to a time when it wasn't easy, the way it is now to say sex has nothing to do with marriage. Speaker 2 00:08:01 It's just, you just couldn't say that so easily. You couldn't treat sex as casually. Then we're going to spend a few minutes here. Now talking about life in general. Now I will bring it back to the scriptures again, before I finish. But I think by then you will see things in a whole new light. Some of you, as we go back in time, you're going to have to use some imagination. What you'll be imagining. Isn't imaginary as in fake or fiction. This is reality, but it's a reality that you will have trouble picturing in your mind because it's so different. It's so strange compared to the way we live now, compared to the whole scope of human history. It's not strange. In fact, it wasn't even that long ago, just an eye blink, but all how times have changed since then. And let's think about the change. Speaker 2 00:08:53 Imagine you are in love, deeply in love. And the two of you are crazy for each other. You want to be close. You can hardly stand to be apart from each other and you want to be closer yet, but this isn't 2022. This is 1920 to 1922. Now, today, the only question that a lot of people will ask is, Hey, are we consenting adults? But back then the question wouldn't be just that it would be what if we conceive a child together? What if she got pregnant? And that question, wouldn't just be lurking in the back of your mind. It would be right up front. You would know just as much as you know that you love each other. You would know that going all the way with each other might mean going all the way to parenthood, going all the way, Matt going all the way. Speaker 2 00:09:47 And oh, what would come with that? You know, first of all, the mom would be ostracized. She would, she would be shunned. She might have to go into hiding and look, I know this happened because it happened in my family, my dad's sister, one of my own aunts. She had two daughters that no one in our family even knew about. I mean, no one knew about it. She put them up for adoption and they went to two different families. Well, both of them decided years later, they were both like 40, 50 years later, they decided they wanted to find out the truth about their birth mothers. They did this independently. They both did, but they found the records and they found out who their mother was and they contacted us the rest of their family. And all of a sudden I have two more cousins. Speaker 2 00:10:30 I never knew I had aunt Mary had kept it hidden because women just didn't have babies. Then if they weren't married, I know, I know it's unfair. It was just a woman that had to hide. And the men didn't bear that responsibility. I know that's unfair and I agree, but that's the way it was. There was the ostracism. There was the shunning, the shame to the woman, but that's not all, there's a child and abortion. Wasn't an option then I don't think that's a good option. Now. I think that's an awful option. Now it's an evil option, but it wasn't even an option then for most, if you go all the way, you're very likely to have that child and that child is going to need parents. And those parents ought to be married to each other. So the child can grow up with the best possible future. Speaker 2 00:11:19 Oh, and by the way, did I mention to you, there's tons, tons, and tons of research showing the kids really do have a better go at life. If they grow up in a stable home with mom and dad who love each other. So back in 1922, you'd think twice before you messed with nature, sex and children and marriage were a triad, three things that went together and could not be split apart in are. They are now you can have sex without marriage. You can have sex without children. You can have marriage without children, but back then it was hard to separate them. Yeah, we know that. I'm not saying sin is a totally recent invention, and I'm not saying that nobody had affairs, nobody had premarital sex. I'm saying they did it at great risk. And they had to think about it very carefully. And if you were that couple in love, and if you had just an ounce of responsibility in your lives, you would do things in the right order. Speaker 2 00:12:18 You would wait until you had already made that commitment. We call marriage and you would do it. Even if you didn't believe in the Bible, you did it because it was just better. It was smart. What I'm saying here is just, it's smart to do things in the right order. Back in the old days, it was hard not to do it in the right order because you could get in a lot of trouble and your kids could be in trouble. You'd have such a pressure of society or the pressure of responsibility. And if you cared for your child at all, you'd have the pressure of love for your child. That's how nature was. And now here's the question though. And here's where I think it might start to come together. We've looked at Jesus' view of marriage. We've considered how there's pressure on that view. Speaker 2 00:13:07 And we've taken this very brief, but I hope eyeopening excursion back into history. When we had this tryout of sex and children and marriage, that was inseparable. And now it's, the triad is broken. And the question now is which way is better? Is it better the way it was then? Or is it better the way it is now? Is it better to keep marriage and sex and children connected or is a better to have, to be able to separate them the way we do now, where sex doesn't have to mean children. And it doesn't have to mean marriage and marriage doesn't have to mean children, which way is better. Well, how can you ask that question? How can you ask that question without finishing the rest of it? Who is it better for which way is it better? Well, I want to know better for whom you better be sure to ask that part of the question too, because you got to know who it might be good for. Speaker 2 00:13:57 And if you're the guy or the girl in 2022 today, you might think the old way is pretty limiting. You gotta wait. You gotta wait. That's hard. Look, it's always been hard. It's always been hard, but it's even harder now because you got all the expectations that people build up. You got all the expectations and the examples in the media, you got all the peer pressure and the idea floating everywhere that sex doesn't have to mean any responsibility. It's just for your pleasure, just for your pleasure. Now that's a thought I plan to return to in a couple of minutes, it's not all it's cracked up to be, but sure, I get it for the couple today. You might think it's limiting, but still the question wasn't just which way is better, but who is it better for, for whom? Is it better? You know who the old way is better for, I mean, obviously better unquestionably, better. Speaker 2 00:14:50 You know, what's better for doing it in the order where you get married first and then you have kids and then you stay married. It's better for the children. It's way better for kids. I mean, it's way better for kids. Get cite your research again. And look, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of studies, and they're consistent. Kids who grow up with a mom and dad who are married and who love each other and get along with each other and care for each other. Those kids grow up with a better go at life than kids who don't. The research is consistent. I tell you, I do have great respect for single parents who do do the parenting job. Well, it's hard. And I know some do it very well. I have real respect for anyone who grew up in a single parent home or a blended family, and who overcame the obstacles to become a person with strong relationships and strong character, but make no mistake if that's you. Speaker 2 00:15:47 And if you got to that great ending, you overcame obstacles to get there because that's not the easiest way. It's not the best way I could set your research. I don't need to. This is so much of, this is just, we know some of you were lucky the way I was. You grew up in a stable home with parents who loved each other. Parents who had a lasting, healthy, caring relationship with each other and their kids. And aren't you glad can't you just say, yeah, I'm glad it was that way. And a lot of you didn't have that and I'll bet most of you wished that you had, because we all know, we all know that that's better. That's the way it ought to be. That's the way we wish it was. It's better for the kids. It's better for the couple too, though. Believe it or not, it's better because living responsibly is good and putting sexual intimacy on a higher level is good too. Speaker 2 00:16:41 I'll tell you a story before I close at the very end to kind of illustrate that, but I want to bring it back to the scriptures. What I think we've seen here is that it's better for children. If we do it well, what are we going to call it? The old fashioned way? The way Jesus taught it's better for children. Do children matter they had better, or we are all in trouble. You had better care for the next generation. You had better care for your own kid. Putting love on a level beyond just the couple is good. And it's good in all kinds of ways. This is a love that multiplies. This is love that overflows. This isn't just you and me, babe, purchase you and me, baby. The two of us, no one else matters. No that's, that's love. That's restricted. That's constrained as limited. Speaker 2 00:17:32 The kind of love that God designed to the marriage to kind of love that was natural. You know, a hundred years ago, this love overflows. It grows it multiplies as you have children, as you love your children. And I tell you what having is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's the most joyful thing I've ever done. The more you love, the more joy you have, it doesn't just overflow into your family. It goes even further. You start hearing about more than yourself, more than each other, and even more than your children, you care about their schools. You care about their friends, their friends, parents, you care about athletic teams and clubs. You care about the whole community that your kids are growing up in your love and your care and your activities to build the future. It all grows and it overflows. And this is where we can bring it back around to the scriptures, because think about the character of God. Speaker 2 00:18:30 Think about the character of God, which kind of love do you think is more like God's love the kind that cares for others, the kind that sacrifices or the just you and me, babe, to all we need kind of a relationship, you know, without being sacrilegious. Because what I'm going to say is this isn't true, but God could have been content with just you and me relationship. There was from eternity, the Trinity three persons, father, son, and holy spirit in a perfect, infinite love relationship with one another. And God wasn't content with that. He wanted his love to not just be contained within the Trinity. He wanted it to overflow. And so he let it overflow into a creation full of people that he created to love to give, to, to sacrifice for, as Jesus did so greatly when he came to live with us as one of us and to die for us and to rise again for us, God demonstrates his love for us. Speaker 2 00:19:37 It says in Romans five, verse eight, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, there was a sacrifice. He gave us all for us. This is love. The whale was meant to be, and this is love at its best. Can't you see now why this might be the kind of thing God had in mind when he created marriage to do you think it's any accident that he designed our human biology so that it would point us toward that direction that love would overflow into children. God is not a God of just you and me, babe relationships. God is a God of overflowing. Self-sacrificial joyful. Giving, expanding love is a God who creates for the future. He's a God who, who builds, who is this marriage good for? The one that that's overflowing, the one that's expansive, the one that does things in the right order. Speaker 2 00:20:31 Who is it good for you? It's good for the child. And don't you think that that matters how I hope you do. You have to, and now do you think maybe Jesus knew what he was talking about? He was talking about the kind of marriage that's good for children and good for the future and good for the couple. Jesus knew what he was talking about and the ones who think they had a better idea. They don't know what they're missing. They don't know what they're missing, but you have to understand this is a package deal. It works. When we see marriage and children and sex is all being a triad. They belong together, take just one of those away and make it optional. And the whole thing will fall to pieces. And when it falls to pieces, it falls and crashes on children. So if you're married, think in terms of what God intended for marriage, that it would be lasting and loving and giving and self-sacrificial. Speaker 2 00:21:29 And if you're struggling in it, I get that, that happens. And we all, everyone who's married is known that that it's hard to work. If you're struggling in it, find help, find help, commit to growing as an individual strong individuals make strong marriages, but grow together as a couple commit to making it commit to making it, to staying together for the sake of your kids. If you're not married, then plan to do things in the right order. Graduate, get a job, get married and let the physical intimacy begin. Then not sooner. It's better. That way. It's better for you, better for your kids, better for your community and a whole lot more like the way God intended us to live and to love a whole lot more like the example that God set as the one who loves us. Well, I'm going to close with a story. Speaker 2 00:22:24 It's a strange one. I mean, it's really weird. You're you're going to, you're going to see it's weird, but it happened. It happened to me. It actually happened to me. It's one of those stories would that end with, I wish I'd said that. It's a, it's an, I wish I'd said that sort of a story. It was maybe 30 years ago. Sarah and I had been married for a couple of years. I don't know I was at the airport in orange county, California, much smaller version of the airport than what's built there. Now I was in the gift bookshop. I was probably buying a chocolate bar in advance of the flight I was going to get on, but I was there and I'm telling you, I'm sorry, this is weird. But it happened. This man came up to me. He's probably 30, 35 years old. He was balding. Speaker 2 00:23:02 And he was wearing what I call a California creative clothing. He had a leather vest, he had beads and that kind of thing. And he pointed toward the back wall, the magazine rack where the magazines were half covered with brown paper, there was in this airport gift, shop a magazine rack with Playboy and hustler and whatever else goes with that, he pointed toward them and he said, boy, you should buy one of those. I sat in an airport gift shop. I don't know that this really happened. And I said to him, no way, no, I'm not going to do that. I'm a happily married man. And he said, you don't know what you're missing. I said, no again. And I got away from him as fast as I could. And it was only later that I, how I had missed my chance. I had missed a great opportunity. Speaker 2 00:23:50 I should have whipped around and that man and looked him in the eye. And I said, no, you don't know what you're missing. You don't know what you're missing. You think it's great looking at pictures. I know what it's like loving and being loved by a real woman. Someone who knows me, someone who loves me, loves me for keeps, who loves me as a whole person and someone I can love as I whole person. I know what it's like when you can trust the person, you can love you think I don't know what I missing. Oh, I think I know what's there and I wouldn't trade it one second for what I have. You're the one who doesn't know what he's missing. God met marriage to be good. God meant sex to be good. And the way to make it good is to have it that the way God meant it to be in marriage with a whole person with love overflowing, it's better for, for being a whole person, yourself for being a real person, a person who can give love and experience love. Speaker 2 00:24:53 It's better for the couple. That way. It's better for the children too. It's way better. The parents give the parents sacrifice. They grow in love and how much better it is for everyone that way. And look, did Jesus know what he was talking about? I know he did because he was God in the flesh, but I also know it because I can see it with my own eyes. It was true. Then it's true today. And we're a whole lot better off if we live it his way, it's not just true. It's good. And you can be confident in that live in God's goodness, follow his way, enjoy his way and let your marriage and your children and your community experience. The goodness of it. Let's close. Speaker 2 00:25:46 That was a podcast produced in cooperation with the stream stream.org, where I'm a writer and a senior editor. And where I just today simultaneous with this February, 1920, 22 produced and published a column for pastors, giving some guidance for those who might want that kind of, of guidance on how to begin preaching the truth about homosexuality in a church where they have not done so before and where frankly, because it's the first time they're teaching it there. They don't know what kind of response they might get from their congregation. So you'll want to check that out and I will leave a link for that in the program notes, as this is published also in the program notes, you'll find a link to a pastor's corner feedback form. What we're trying to do there at the pastor's corner is to be of service to pastors. We need to know how well we're doing. Speaker 2 00:26:41 We need to hear from you, whether this is hitting the mark, whether we're missing the mark, what kinds of topics you'd like to have us cover? You can interact with us at the link that we'll have there in the program notes. And we would love to hear from you. If you're not a pastor, please pass this along to your pastor. It might just prove to be helpful to them as well. And of course we'd love to hear from them and from you. Thank you for listening. I'm Tom Gilson for the thinking Christian podcast, and we will see you here next time. Speaker 1 00:27:16 The thinking Christian podcast is copyright by Thomas Gilson for more information, visit the thinking Christian [email protected].

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