0011 – Source Code 3 – Every Careless Word

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“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exo 20:7)

For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
(Heb 6:16)

What is it that responds so viscerally to the name of God? And surely this response only occurs in those who know the Word and its meaning. Once we learn His name, we become responsible for it. Once you know the Name of God, you can never go back. Once you’ve named that Thing you’ve always known, He can’t be ignored.

The Israelites became acquainted with the Name at the foot of Sinai. “I am the Lord (YHWH) Your God.” This God, the YHWH, had delivered them from Egypt, brought them through the Red Sea, given them manna in the desert. This was the God doing the impossible before their eyes. Is it possible to get used to something like that?

But once he had given out His special covenant Name, they were obligated to protect it, and not use it frivolously. Digging into the text a bit, we find that “take” means primarily to “lift” where vain means “empty”. Is this lifting your voice? Lifting up the Name? Offering false praise or empty praise?

It seems to me that the prohibition is two-pronged. First that all use of the Name be weighted accordingly, and second, all those who seek a place in the Name should live as such. They are not actually two, but since we are fond of separating our actions from our thoughts, we will do so here.

I have never heard hypocrisy addressed from this text but what if we considered this a prohibition against hypocrisy? I think it goes without saying hypocrisy is a cancerous corruption in any church. Recently I had opportunity to take in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In the play, honest, God-fearing “covenanted Christians” are put on trial for witchcraft. The villain, the scorned Abigail, declares that the whole church is full of hypocrites, and her righteous mission is to eradicate hypocrisy in the church. It made me wonder why God allowed the original trials to take place, and good men and women hung on a gallows. Could Abigail’s charge ring true? Certainly it is not a new charge. Do “good Christian people” take the name in vain, offer vacuous praise and empty soulless prayers? Haven’t we often reduced relationship with Christ to ritual within Church and true Christian fellowship to “a friendly church”? If God did judge Salem for hypocrisy, then He must surely apologize to them today.

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, (Isa 29:13)

Consider the church that bears the Name of God, but with none of the characteristics of God. A Church that is unloving, unkind, closed to all but the insiders, and is only concerned about itself. Is this taking the Name of the Lord in vain? The Lord hates lying lips, and surely the Lord hates a Church whose name is on their lips, but pray with blood-stained hands.

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (Pro 12:22)

Suppose taking the Name in vain is a prohibition against heartless worship. To take His name in vain is more than swearing or using His Name as a curse word. It speaks to the whole manner of life of a person covered in such a name. The Israelites were God’s covenant people. A people called by His Name. Moses alludes to this when God threatens to destroy Israel after her sin with the golden calf.

But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” (Exo 32:11-13)

But it is after this that we get the fuller expression of the Name of God as He passes over Moses in the cleft of the rock.

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exo 34:6-7)

It is not the bitter, vengeful God we are confronted with, but the merciful, kind, longsuffering God, who is holy and just. It is not a bitter, selfish God we offend, for in that we might be justified. But it is a loving, holy, and just God, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and in all places at once.

This is why we never use our own name. We are weak and powerless. We might try someone else’s name, someone greater than us. (“Stop in the name of the Law!” or “In the Name of the King!”) but to call down the Name of the Almighty God makes everyone give pause. It makes a heart tuned to Him stop a moment, in the midst of a “god-damn” or a “Jesus H. Christ!” They are blasphemous, and they are wrong, but they get attention.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecc 3:11)

If so, then we must be subconsciously aware of His power, since we automatically ascribe to Him all things beyond our comprehension and all things beyond our power and ability. We cry out to God for help when we can’t do anything else. As the old saying goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes.”

The danger of a “Christian” nation is that the ill-equipped and unchurched know enough to use God’s Name, and the power of the Name, to lace their expletives with it. The English words themselves carry no power, but they represent the Divine Being, and whether it is God, Gott, or Deus, they are all the Creator-God and Loving Savior of mankind. And God knew we would be both afraid of His power, but in our anger, would wield this power against our enemies, the most formidable power we know.

And so God laid out the boundary against the abuse of His Name. “Do not take the Name of the Lord Thy God in vain.” Do not abuse His mercy or His love. Leviticus 24:11-16 illustrates the point by calling for execution any who blaspheme the name, whether native or alien, among the congregation.

In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus cautions anyone who misuses the name, saying, “let your yes be yes and your no, no.” That is to say, be honest in your every day conversation, and you wont’ have to swear by the Lord to convince others you are telling the truth.

It seems that Scripture declares a wide berth between the name of God and our ordinary language, unless our ordinary conduct reflects the character of God. Let your worship be authentic and your words reflect the glory and character of God. Don’t even try to use the words that pretend to blaspheme, like “golly”, “geez”, “gee-whiz”, or “What in the name of . . .?” Declare for yourself a wide berth between your language and the holiness of God.

The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:35-37)

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God’s Plan for Church Growth

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When we see the empty pews, there is a sense of wrongness to it. Church growth seminars and conferences try to lay out cookie-cutter versions of sure-fire means to add more people to those pews, but we are always missing something, some drive, some gift, some fire that sees us into sustainable growth. In the early days of the church, growth was explosive and dynamic. When we read those passages, we marvel at how easy it was to add 3000 (Acts 2:41) or 5000 (Acts 4:4) in one day. Are we doing something wrong?

Some say we need more door-to-door canvassing, like the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While that may be a helpful tool (as home visits are for church members), we never see that used in the New Testament (unless God directs you to visit, like the story of Peter with Cornelius). Paul’s method was going synagogue to synagogue, finding people who were already attracted to God’s Word. Of all the conversion stories in Acts, almost all of them were already believers in God, or followers of God in some way, like Jews or believing Gentiles. In Philippi the Jailer was converted after listening to Paul and Silas sing all night surviving a miraculous earthquake. In Athens, a couple of people were converted after listening to Paul preach to the Areopagus.

In all of the letters to the Churches we rarely read anything related to our idea of Church growth. You would think that there would be an occasion for some apostle to write to a church about how to make it grow, but in fact, no church is ever given evangelism ideas, programs, or gimmicks to get pews filled, membership rolls expanded, or churches bigger. You would think that this subject would be of vital importance to the early church, but the only instructions we get are contained in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) with the Church’s strategic plan in Acts 1:8. But the greatest plan the New Testament reveals is in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” For us, we are called to plant, and to water, but God gives the increase.

On balance most of the New Testament accounts speak of people who already believed in God, who then spread the Word through family and friends. God’s plan for growth follows what J. W. McGarvey observes as “The Rule of Success”, witnessing where you will have the best chance of success.

So the question for us is, “where will we have the best chance of success?” The best answer to that is actually people you know, or get to know. These are people you meet every day. But remember another lesson from the New Testament. The people who are telling others about Jesus are completely committed to Jesus, willing to give even their lives to serve Him. This love for Jesus and love for other people are the two best ways to evangelize.

A Plague of Purpose

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Exodus 9:14

“For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on our servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.”God’s purposes for plagues, natural disasters and war are to warn us.When you get sick, or you just don’t feel well, you may not consider God’s role in your illness, nor even consider yourself serious enough to add to the prayer list. More serious illnesses and health problems interrupt our lives long enough to realign our perspectives, and force us to consider God’s role and power to heal. That’s when we ask the “why” questions. But what about epidemics or plagues where many people are sick? Some time ago, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa came to our shores. This disease crossed national borders and exists as a threat in this country. The first, limited supplies of Z-mapp, an experimental drug developed by an Owensboro company, quickly ran out, and the disease threatened our doorstep. The Herald-Leader website published an article October 2nd about two patients that had “Ebola-like” symptoms, but thankfully did not have Ebola. They had, however, been to Liberia in West Africa recently.

Why doesn’t God stop this plague? We can know positively that if God wished He could. Thus the opposite here may be true. He does not wish to stop it yet. It has not fulfilled its purpose. God’s purposes for plagues, natural disasters and war are to warn us. They are reminders that we can’t keep living as if there is no God. Despite all the nuclear warheads in our arsenal, soldiers in our ranks, or bullets in their guns, not one is effective in stopping a plague. No Air Force in the world can stop a hurricane, nor Army a famine. God demonstrates His power over our world by reminding us of just how powerless we are.

Yet, He demonstrates His love toward us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. Even when we were His enemies, dying in our sins, He loves us and Jesus died for us to save us from the eternal penalty of sin, death in Hell. As Christians, we shouldn’t need to be reminded of either God’s love or power, but now is a good time to remind someone else. This plague is cruel; it respects no one and will strike anyone who is not prepared for it, good or bad. However, God doesn’t have the same agenda we do. We look at the disease for its cruelty and apply that cruelty back to God. But for God, the disease is a means. He is after the heart of a man to turn him back to God. Disease reminds us of what is really important: not wealth, personal power, or social status, but family, friends, and faith. Many ask, “Why do we suffer before a good God?” Rather, we need to ask, “Since God is just, why don’t we suffer more since we have often offended Him?” God’s goal isn’t a healthy, vigorous body, but a soul that is spiritually sound and saved. When we sin against the Lord, we deserve to die, but He is gracious, and gives us time to consider and repent. Disease is a direct and unmistakable warning to repent; a plague even more so. Will our nation listen this time?

Desiring a King

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Having a king was not God’s ideal for Israel. When God described rules about having a king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, it would be 400 years before the Israelites actually asked for one. There had been a king, Abimelech, the illegitimate son of Gideon (also known as Jerubbaal) but his reign was short and only over the Shechemites (Judges 9). Not until King Saul was there a king over all Israel. The nation of Israel wanted a king like all the nations around them, but God had different plans.

From Genesis God had planned that Judah would hold the scepter (Gen 49:10), and as we move through the troubled reign of Saul, we rest the crown on the head of David and his descendants. Saul’s descendants would have received a crown, but Saul was a man who used religion, rather than believed it himself. He became the cause of his own disappointment. David and his sons would carry the weight of the crown in succession. But God’s vision is farther than that, for He looks forward to His own Son, who would be called the “Son of David” and fulfill His promise to David, that he would always have a descendant on the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 7:12-13). It is Jesus, crowned with glory and honor (Heb 2:9) who has received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) and is seated at God’s right hand (Eph 1:20) at the throne of Heaven.

There’s always been an undercurrent in our culture of kings and queens (consider the fast food royalty of Burger King and Dairy Queen). Though we haven’t had an official king since 1776, there are still those who have assumed such power, like Al Capone, John Dillinger, Bernie Madoff, and Richard Nixon to name a few. But these are examples that illustrate the oft-quoted proverb, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Though not a biblical proverb, the Bible does tell us such power in a single individual is disastrous. For every King David, there is a King Ahab. For every good King Hezekiah, there is a wicked King Manasseh. This is why when the founding fathers formed a new government for America, they borrowed from Isaiah 33:22, “For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.” They saw in this that ideal government ought to have three separate but equally powerful branches of government, that no one man would have all the power to himself. So far, this experiment has worked. It has worked so well because those founding fathers realized the errors of the ages. The true King of any land is the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us are stewards of the land and the reigns of government. We are a nation “under God”.

What began as a sinful desire of Israelite Elders God turned to His good ends, that Jesus Christ would one day be declared King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16). Is there room in your heart for The King?

Taking Sin Seriously

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Do you take sin seriously? As Christians, it is one area that we are especially good at: identifying sins in others. Since we know the Bible, we usually have no problem pointing out the sins of others for their correction. After all, aren’t we supposed to do that?

Jesus once addressed this problem with the Pharisees. He likened their “helpfulness” as one who has a log in his own eye helping someone else get a speck out of theirs. Honestly, the reason we know sin so well is probably because we’ve committed a few ourselves, not out of any serious study of Scripture.

But one thing that our culture is famous for is miscasting sin as “disease”. There are lots of diseases, like alcoholism, substance abuse, sex addiction (and the host of addictions), obesity, and the like that are caused not by a virus or a malady which the victim was helpless against, but by the power of his own elbow. The result is that many of these sins are being “treated” by medicine rather than cured by the power of God.

What happened if we took God at His word and treated sins like, well, sins? What if instead of “mental health” we strove for soul health? Who can truly change the heart of a man? Is it medicine? Therapy? Conversations with a psychiatrist at $200/ hour? Or is it Jesus?

Surprisingly, many of the things we diagnose as mental disease may only be diseases of the soul. And who can cure all our soul’s diseases? Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. But in order to pursue this “soul health” we must first identify the problem, and admit that it is the problem. There are actual mental problems that have to do with biology, and they fall into a different category that what we will deal with, and I will try to help you discern the difference. For example, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are actual diseases of the brain, not necessarily a result of sin directly.

Are you suffering from something that a psychologist has told you is a mental health issue? Have you been told only a long series of one-hour a week sessions are the only thing that will keep you sane? Do you really think God has nothing to say about “mental health”?

The Risen Lord!

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For Christians, Easter is the high point on the Church calendar. It’s THE day when most people, if they ever go to church, is the day they go. Easter is unique. For many people, Easter marks the beginning of Spring, and a shaking off of winter. It is a sign of new beginnings, and promises of warmth and weather are made. Flowers come up around Easter. They adorn our Easter cross, and complex symbol both of the shape of Christ’s death, but the beauty of its significance for us as Christians. Easter means many things to many different people. For me, Easter was making the trip when I was a kid to my great uncle John’s house, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, and finding that one chocolate egg that everyone else missed, because it was colored green.

But Easter is also a culmination of some folk’s religious obligation. What began Thanksgiving the year before, went through Christmas, and through St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, and Annunciation Day, now culminates at Easter. For some it is the end of religious obligation for another year, and now warm weather, spring break, summer vacation, ball games and NO SCHOOL are just around the corner. Even for dedicated Christians, Easter is an ending of sorts. We saw Jesus born and we saw him die, and rise again. Many churches choose to emphasize Jesus’ life during this time as teaching naturally flows from Christmas to Easter. Once Easter comes, it’s time to focus on other subjects. We tend to lose Jesus at Easter, only to pick Him back up again next Christmas.

What is Jesus now? We proclaim Him, praise Him, and extol the virtues of His life on earth, but didn’t Jesus rise from the dead? What is He up to? Does the Bible tell us about it? Though Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once for all paid at the cross, His resurrection celebrated every Sunday, do we know what Jesus is doing today?

This same Jesus whom we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday is still alive and active today. He isn’t just to be found in the covers of the Bible, but He is the Living Lord! That means that Jesus is alive right now. He lives in Heaven with the Father, but He has been known to make the occasional appearance. Right now, He dwells at the right hand of the Father, but also in you. He mediates for us before the Father night and day as our Great High Priest and Advocate. He also dwells in the midst of the Churches as the Son of the Most High, our Head and Ruler.

Jesus’ work didn’t stop when He rose in the clouds. Let’s take time to find out what He’s doing today!

King Jesus has all authority on heaven and earth, and sends us out to do His work.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Mat 28:18-20)

Jesus, Our Great High Priest is our advocate before the Father, defending us before the judgment our sins deserve against our adversary, the Devil

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
(Heb 9:11-12)

 

Jesus, the Great Prophet who sees all of this as the First and the Last is just as alive today as He was then.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
(Rev 1:17-18)

 

Being a Christian isn’t about attending church, or making sure your pew is filled on special days. Being a Christian calls for a daily taking up the cross and following Him. Don’t let your discipleship be defined by tick marks in a roll call but by treasures gathered in heaven.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
(1Co 3:11-13)

0111 – Source Code 7 – What God Joined Together

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“So they are no longer two, but one, therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)

“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14)

When God created human beings, he created marriage. God created them male and female, and the first picture we see of their relationship is one of marriage. In Genesis 2, God created Adam “from the dust of the ground” and after a time, “no suitable helper was found” for him (Gen 2:20). That’s when God put Adam into a deep sleep and fashioned from him just such a helper. Her name became Eve, and the first marriage took place at the moment of their meeting.

For those readers unfamiliar with the “birds and the bees”, you probably ought to read no further. Trust me.

I am amazed that a book considered so holy and pure that children ought to be encouraged to read it (and they should, don’t get me wrong) contains information that children ought not to be familiar with at younger ages. It seems to me that children need to carefully exposed to Biblical content until their life experience can prepare them for it. Just sayin’.

Ziony Zevit’s book What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden (Yale University Press, 2013) suggests that this surgery for Adam isn’t what we’ve always been taught. We’ve always been taught that Adam’s rib was removed from his side. From this rib,  Eve was formed.

From this I’ve always associated Matthew Henry’s beautiful quote:

“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

I’ve even used this quote, because it speaks to the beauty of the relationship between men and women. However, Zevit suggests a different part of the anatomy was involved. There goes centuries of beautiful word pictures, right? Well, rather than a rib, Zevit suggests that Adam’s baculum was removed. This because the original Hebrew speaks not of a rib specifically, but a part of the body that sticks out from the rest. This contradicts the story I was told as a child that men have one fewer set of ribs than women. According to Wikipedia, “The baculum (also penis bone, penile bone, or os penis, or os priapi) is a bone found in the penis of many placental mammals. It is absent in the human penis, but present in the penises of other primates, such as the gorilla and chimpanzee.” What a curious absence. Physicians have long known that the number of ribs on men and women are the same.  But one bone absent among humans is the baculum, a bone present in primates. Curious, isn’t it?

Read this way, we see: “Then the Lord God made a woman from the baculum he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Gen 2:22)

The single most important physical point of contact for the man in the act of intimacy involves the penis, powerful in the number of nerve endings it hosts, and its complementary physical opposite within women. Without this bone in our skeleton, it is much more difficult for women to achieve the apex of her sexual pleasure. Thus the man disciplines his mind and his sexual energy out of his love for his wife. This is a picture of sacrificial love, to keep himself from his own physical climax until his wife has enjoyed the experience. God intentionally removed this particular bone in order to fashion the woman, to demand upon the husband a discipline of mind, to give place to her needs, to give her pleasure. And it is upon this singular relationship, dare I say this singular act of love between them, between the husband and the wife in marriage that all of society is built upon it. He removed the bone that would have kept the masculine member erect at all times and fashioned it into a feminine person. And when the masculine and the feminine come together, the male and the female become “one flesh.”

Paul emphasizes this point warning the Christians in Corinth about having sex with prostitutes:

“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”” (1Co 6:16)

This explains why men and women have such an unexplainable infatuation with each other, why “love at first sight” is a thing. It is such a basic, even elemental force in our being that we can’t explain it. It is part of our source code. And just as men long to be united with women, so women long to be united with men. We call it “sex drive” or “libido” but it comes from from long ago separation, a separate but equal creation, in the garden of Eden.

This is not to say that some aren’t completely satisfied being single. Jesus says that sometimes, this drive is not present, and sometimes it is forcibly removed:

“For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Mat 19:12)

Not many are able. Because of this, Sex comes with a warning label.

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1Co 7:1-2)

The drive to unite sexually is so powerful, that unless it is carefully guarded and contained within a marriage, it can destroy everything else. It is something that ought only to be experienced by mature adults, and not by children. Children who are awakened too early reflect many immature attitudes towards sexuality when they mature. Hence, source code 7, “Do not commit adultery”. At its essence, it is about guarding the sexual perimeter of marriage. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4) It about maintaining the purity of the marriage relationship. Any sexual experience that takes place outside the covenanted heterosexual marriage relationship is “fornication” and “sexual immorality”. Those comes with many other warnings. Jesus adds in Matthew 5:28 that even to internalize and fantasize about a sexual relationship outside this marriage covenant violates the commandment against adultery. Adultery isn’t just about violating the covenant with your present wife, but as unmarrieds, your future spouse. Keeping yourself pure is essential because marriage is the only place that sex can be safely practiced. All others must abstain. Why?

Marriage is the foundational community. Before God created government, before He created the family, before He created the Church, He created marriage. Marriage precedes and thus helps to define all other human relationships. This isn’t about living together, one-night stands, or any of the other euphemisms we apply to fornication. This isn’t about same-sex committed relationships either, or the faux marriage many trapped in such lifestyles pretend. This is marriage as defined as one man and one woman covenanted to each other as long they both shall live.

Marriage defines family. Duh, but let it be said that many believe families can be composed of any group of people. While this is possible, it’s not the ideal. A family composed of a group of people not related to each other are bound only by the strength of that commitment, time spent normalizes it. Traditional families are bound not only by this, but the biological component, bound by blood and DNA, behaviors and mannerisms that reflect one’s upbringing. Children are born in the image of their parents (and grandparents) and are more strongly bound. Even if those parents are awful people, there is still a piece of of a child’s heart that will always be bound to them. Marriage is the foundation of a family, providing the DNA and the stable household in which children are born, raised, and developed into mature adults. Unlike animals, of which most are ready to fend for themselves at birth, humans require time in a protected environment, so that their more complex brains not only learn language and essential life skills (going to the potty), but develop social and emotional intelligence. Children who do not have this either “grow up too fast” or don’t grow up at all, and are emotionally or intellectually stunted.

Marriage defines community. Stable communities are composed of stable families. Sexual relationships are confined within the boundaries of male-female covenanted relationships. The lines of descent, who is the father of who, as it were, are clearly defined. Children know who their parents are, and there is no one who questions their parentage. Neighbors are not seeking one another for sexual favors. Household integrity remains strong. In this environment, Families work together toward common goals, agree on boundaries, have their kids play together in an environment of trust. Families socialize without worry. The community is strong when household sexual boundaries are sacrosanct.

Marriage defines government. As communities grow, they require governance. In time they will seek out those who can govern, who can judge fairly between households, and give wise counsel. How a man’s marriage goes defines his worth as a ruler and a judge. How an officer treats his children is an example of how he treats his people. If a man cannot be faithful to his wife, how will be be faithful to his oath of office? When recommending men for eldership in the church, Paul says to look at their marriage record. (See 1 Timothy 3:2). Deuteronomy 17:17 warns that a king ought not to have many wives, or his heart will turn away (from his proper duty as ruler). If he cannot be a good father to his children, how can he be so to his community? (See 1 Timothy 3:5)

Marriage defines the Church. Marriage is the model for Christ and the Church. Many passages employ this metaphor:

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
(Joh 3:29)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
(Eph 5:22-33)

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
(1Co 11:3)

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
(Rev 19:6-9)

Do not make the mistake that the Church invented marriage. Rather, marriage precedes the Church by nearly 1700 years. God invented marriage to be a sacred relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus reaffirms this in Matthew 19. He says that the marriage relationship isn’t simply the attraction of a man to a woman (and vice versa), but it is the God-enhanced covenant that keeps them together.

This is why Satan is so keen on redefining marriage. If he can undermine marriage, he can undermine all of the human community. If one pulls at this one thread long enough, the entire fabric of our society is undone. When we cannot tell who our fathers are, or who our mothers are anymore, we lose our connection to the past, and our concern with it. History is one of our best teachers, and when we lose it, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes. If we say we are nothing special because we came from nothing and go to nothing, then what motivation have we to do something? The first step toward this oblivion was adultery, which is why God placed this sign right there at the beginning. If sexual desire is within out source code, then source code 7 is our guardrail, to keep up from going over the cliff.