Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read, he replied, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,”
Coach Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers were a few yards from winning the 1960 NFL Championship game, but after Bart Starr threw to Jim Taylor, he was tackled, the clock ticked down and the team lost 17-13. This loss haunted the team through the off season. So, when the team returned for the 1961 season and they assembled before Coach Lombardi, he walked to the front of the room, took several seconds to look at each player in silence, held out the pigskin in front of them, and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” In the next practise he took his team out and showed them the field, the sidelines, the end zones, and then he reminded the players that the football is to go across the end zone line. At each subsequent practise he would go through the fundamentals as if they had never heard them before. Under Lombardi, they never lost another playoff game including the first two Super Bowls ever played. Lombardi got back to the basics.
There are many tough issues facing the church today. When our family hosted Bible studies at our house I felt for the young people in particular, when I heard the pressure they were under. What once were norms in society, that fit far more closely to Biblical principals, were now being increasingly challenged. One of those areas is teaching on gender and marriage. “What is marriage?” It is not surprising to me that the world has struggled with this question, but I am somewhat surprised that the church has struggled so mightily. When I teach on this subject, I take on a bit of Lombardi’s technique – I get back to the basics.
When I address the topic of gender and marriage I start with Matthew 19:3-12. In this passage the Pharisees actually approach Jesus on the topic of divorce rather than marriage. They asked him: “is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (vs. 3b). Rather than answering them directly, he goes back to the beginning, to the Genesis creation account. “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.” (vs. 4-6).
Then, when God wanted to explain the core of Christianity to the church, through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33, he uses an analogy. He uses the analogy of the husband representing Christ and the wife representing the church (whom he loved and died for). “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (vs. 33). The design of God in marriage is sacred. But don’t take my word for it, scour the Bible for one positive reference to anything else other than man and woman in marriage. If God had any other design in mind, do you really think he wouldn’t mention it, not even once?
I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of many questions that face the church today, but I do want to encourage the church to question whether their struggles are coming from the “Word” or from the “World”? Are you re-evaluating your beliefs because God revealed a new truth to you from His Word, or because the World has been placing pressure on you to change? Remember Paul’s admonition: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a). When you are feeling confused and overwhelmed, get back to the basics – get back to the Word of God.