Marriage

Wedding Homily for Josh and Alice


 
Martin Luther famously said:

There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.[1]

Luther and Katie’s marriage is legendary.[2] Their marriage is considered the most studied marriage in church history. But what so unique about brother Martin’s marriage? It certainly wasn’t a flawless one, but what was flawless was their union to their Lord. Marriage was not an act of idolatry for Luther; it was an act of worship. Luther believed that marriage was a profound way man and woman expressed their worship of their God.

In every act of communion and co-regency; love and life—marriage is a couple’s environment to train themselves as worship partners in the kingdom of God.

Josh and Alice, marriage is worship; you are forming today a liturgical bond. Marriage is the environment where grace is shown, friendship is strengthened, communion is built, love is shared, and God is adored. In other words, marriage is the environment most fit for a man and a woman to show the world what worship looks like.

This ceremony grounds itself in adoration; because if God is not adored in this institution, this entire mission called marriage has little hope of survival.

And that is why you are here: because you know your mission. You know that marriage from the moment you are declared husband and wife to the end of your days is an institution grounded in worship.

But if marriage is worship, how is this worship practiced? There are many paradigms for worship, but none so concise and splendid as the paradigm of worship itself given to us in Leviticus, the Psalter, and the Book of Revelation.

In the beginning, God calls creation to his presence. He creates it and places under his care. He does the same with you. He creates this relationship and brings it under his care in this ceremony. God has brought you, Josh and Alice, into this sacred ceremony. He has brought you together into this place to make vows before a host of witnesses. He has brought you here to prepare your hearts for worship. This preparation is the culmination of counseling and much wisdom that has imparted to you before this moment and all your days.

But participation in this ceremony requires more than your presence. It requires your confession. Yes, your confession as you enter into this liturgy is one that admits the reality that both of you are in desperate need of your Lord Jesus Christ. You are in desperate need of a Gospel that gives you life! Confess to one another your dependence on the Father as your host, on the Son as your Lord, and on the Spirit as your guide. You make this confession today so you may walk with a pure heart and a humble voice together to the throne of grace the rest of your days.

After being humbled by God, you now walk together to hear the Word proclaimed to you. This word, which I proclaim to you now, is a reminder that your life from now on must always be under the authority of the Word of God. You need to be conquered by it daily; you need to be saturated by its treasures consistently, and you need to be reminded of its truth perpetually. Your song must be the song of the psalmist: “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word!”

The part about worship that is so fascinating is that it is not merely about passive members. You will in a few moments have an opportunity to affirm your deepest longing to make this life of worship together a reality in sickness and health till death. But don’t say these vows only today, repeat them again and again. As C.S. Lewis once said: “Marriage is maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit.” Practice worship together in word and deed.

Now, this whole worship experience you are embarking comes to a joyful moment–as there will be thousands throughout your life–when there is food, communion, kisses, wine, and rejoicing. These moments of joy need to be recorded in your memories, so that throughout your life when enemies—however great or small surround you–you will have no doubt that there is a table prepared for you by your gracious Lord.

Now, I know both of you are eager to get this celebration going, but you know that the last element that is missing is your commissioning as you—especially the Bride–will recess in splendor and might at the end of this ceremony.

So as this worship continues, Josh and Alice, go, therefore. Practice worship. Make it a habit. Disciple one another. Remember your baptisms. And the God of all peace will renew you by his grace.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship .., https://www.pinterest.com/misssaralynn11/there-is-no-more-lovely-friendly-and-ch (accessed December 30, 2016).

[2] In Luther’s 54 volumes of theology, he spoke of “marriage” and “matrimony” approximately 2,000 times. To put it simply, Martin Luther, the great Reformer, reflected on marriage more than any other theme in theology.

Husbands and Headship: The Art of Dying

We live in a culture that views headship as abusive. In the Bible, however, headship is central to the stability of the home. Protestant and evangelical men need to see this headship in the context of the great covenant responsibilities that come with that role. The man who views his headship cavalierly views his role in the home with un-biblical eyes.

I have met many men who come to see the need for headship in the home, and have made the necessary changes to their husbandry. Some of these men came to these convictions late in life, and therefore, the changes occurred too quickly; especially for their families. They went from rarely reading the Bible themselves to requiring family devotions with a 45 minute sermon. Dad went from barely feeding his family spiritually to stuffing his family. Children grow up dreading the evening “services”, and the wife, on the one hand, gives thanks to God for the change in her husband, while on the other, wondering if God misunderstood her prayers.

God knew all things, of course. The problem is sinners have made an art of over-reacting. Pastors need to watch out for these types and bring their enthusiasm to a proper balance.

But the Church is not suffering because of over-zealous husbands/ fathers; she is suffering for the lack of any zeal in husbands/fathers.

In particular, husbands are called to meet the needs of their wives. He is the provider, sustainer, and the one called by God to make his wife lovely. The wife is lovely when the husband beautifies her. Jesus is the head of the Church and part of his ascension task is to make his bride beautiful (Eph. 5). He comforts her with words of affirmation. He protects her for physical and spiritual abuse. He is her Boaz and David; a redeemer and king. The home serves as the castle. Pastors usually know when he enters a home whether it is being beautified or whether it has lost its beauty. I am not referring to neatness and tidiness; I am referring to the grace of a home. When that pastor leaves, he may have just left a pretty tomb with dead man’s bones. Grace makes a home, and the husband is the grace-giver. How he speaks, how he communicates, how he rebukes, how he seeks forgiveness; all these things demonstrate and encapsulate the type of headship he is embodying.

The husband is a resident theologian. He may not be a vocational theologian, but his actions and speech are the word and deed that his family will hear most often. When the husband lives a life of constant hypocrisy, his lectures will become dull and lose meaning. When his life demonstrates humility and the virtue of repentance, then his lectures, even the boring ones, will sink deeply into the fabric of the home.

The evangelical husband is a lover of truth. Truth keeps him from abusing his headship; truth keeps him from prioritizing his friends over his own family; truth keeps him from isolating himself from the Christian body; truth keeps him from turning headship into abuse. He must be, as Douglas Wilson once observed, “a small pebble that somehow by the grace of God pictures the Rock that is Christ.”[1]

The responsibility of being the head of the home is the responsibility of many, but the practice of some. Headship implies dying for your wife, and many prefer to see their spouse die than themselves. So men, let’s die together for our wives, and let’s show the world that death brings life.


[1] Wilson, Douglas. Reforming Marriage, 39.

 

Sermon: Marriage and the Public Gospel

People of God, after a lengthy series on I Corinthians 15, we are going to shift our attention to a topic of great importance, the topic of marriage. I will be absent from the pulpit these next two coming weeks, and so in order not to start something at this stage, I wanted to give particular attention to a matter that is at the core of the moral decline this nation.

As many of you know, the Session of Providence Church sent a letter to the mayor of Pensacola exhorting him to disavow his proclamation, which stated—among many other things the following:

WHEREAS, the annual Pensacola PRIDE festival is an opportunity to celebrate and promote the history, courage, and diversity of the Pensacola area Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons and to advocate the message of toleration, equality, dignity, and respect for all citizens.

This incurred a reaction from some of the conservative leaders of the city. As a result, I was invited to be one of nine speakers at the Standing for Righteousness Rally this past Monday. We had over 250 supporters, and about 100 protestors. Though there were some disagreements in our messages as to how to proceed with this matter, we all agreed that marriage is under assault. Something needs to be done about this both locally and nationally.

The Apostle Paul wrote specifically in Romans 1 against not only the homosexual practices of the day, but he was also writing to liberate those who were being sexually abused by their masters. And this needs to be the source of our response, that the Gospel is liberating. It does not just liberate man spiritually, but also from his or her destructive lifestyles. It frees the captive and enslaved. It saves the whole man. At the moment we are beginning to proclaim a gospel that only saves the soul, we are proclaiming a mediocre gospel; a gospel that does not change the very heart of human idolatry.

This modern threat upon the sacred definition of marriage is not only coming from without the Church—as to be expected—but it is coming from within the Church. Mainline denominations, though decreasing in staggering numbers over the years, continue to pursue a re-definition of marriage. “The Civil Union and Marriage Issues Committee at the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has agreed…to sending the proposal, which could change the church’s definition of marriage “between a woman and a man” to being “between two people,” to the General Assembly for consideration.” This change would certainly be consistent with the pattern of the PCUSA in the last 40 years. More

The Christian Marriage

In light of the upcoming book I am editing, I hope to be able to post a few quotes:

The Christian marriage is a Spirit-filled song and dance; as with all dances, the man leads and the woman follows. Together their lives blend into one, as they make the music of the Spirit.

–Rich Lusk, What is Marriage for?

Standing for Righteousness Rally

For those who were not able to attend, here is my four minute speech:

 

Standing 4 Righteousness Rally, My Brief Address

I am very grateful to be here addressing an issue of utmost importance to this community, to this nation, and for the good of civilization.

We are standing for righteousness. But righteousness is not rooted in the philosophies of men, nor is it rooted in the concerns of well-meaning politicians: righteousness is rooted in the One who is all-together Righteous, namely God himself. And when I say God, I am not referring to the man upstairs, or to some figment of human imagination, I am speaking of the Who is Three and One—the God of the Bible who is the God of Creation.

When this Triune God declares something to be very good, there is no force, no political legislation, no decree from Washington, no rationale from universities that can reverse this declaration. As a minister of the Gospel, I am here to declare that God has instituted marriage, and declared it very good. His creation was nothing less than magnificent. And not only did the God of Sacred Scriptures declare this relationship between a man and a woman within the sacred walls of marriage to be very good, but He also sealed it with His Divine approval. He said that they are one flesh. Man and woman complement one another. They are the result of this masterful and glorious creation. To quote G.K. Chesterton: “Marriage is a fact.”

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke with absolute authority and echoed the words of creation when he said in Mark 10: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

God created only two humans, not a group of males and females who could configure as they pleased or switch partners as it suited them, but a man and a woman who would form an indivisible union, revealing completeness and compatibility.

But not only is the marriage between a man and a woman grounded in creation, and not only does Jesus re-affirm that in the Gospels, marriage also functions as a symbol of the Gospel. The marriage of a man and a woman is a symbol of the marriage between Christ and His Bride, the Church. If marriage is threatened or marred, then the Gospel of the Love of Christ for us, sinners, is also marred in our culture. This can never be!

We must stand up for righteousness, but not a righteousness rooted in sophistry, not a righteousness rooted in some random version of God, not a righteousness rooted in what we may think or feel, but a righteousness rooted in the God who made heaven and earth; a God who created man and woman to represent and be examples to the world of what love truly is, and that through that love the love of God is revealed; a love which sacrifices His one and only Son, a love which heals the broken hearted, the poor, and the marginalized; a love which leads to the changing of heart, and a love that is not bound by time, but endures forever. Amen.

Chesterton and Marriage

In preparing for my speech at the Standing 4 Righteousness Rally, I have been reading some Chesterton. I came across this piece on LifeSiteNews.

 

John Piper on the Myth of Same-Sex Marriage

PermalinkIn his recent sermon, which has caused some misunderstandings, John Piper explores the myth of same-sex marriage. He asserts that in fact “there is no such thing as so-called same-sex marriage.” He elaborates further:

The point here is not only that so-called same-sex marriage shouldn’t exist, but that it doesn’t and it can’t. Those who believe that God has spoken to us truthfully in the Bible should not concede that the committed, life-long partnership and sexual relations of two men and two women is marriage. It isn’t. God has created and defined marriage. And what he has joined together in that creation and that definition, cannot be separated, and still called marriage in God’s eyes.

Loving her forever…

The Bible is—as we have said before—a marriage story. It is a story of how God showers his bride with love when she is polluted by sin, how he pursues her when she is chasing after other gods, and how ultimately, he will conquer her heart, and love her forever.

–Sermon Excerpt

The Idolization of Marriage

A marriage which does not constantly crucify its own selfishness and self-sufficiency, which does not “die to itself” that it may point beyond itself, is not a Christian marriage. The real sin of marriage today is not adultery or lack of “adjustment” or “mental cruelty.” It is the idolization of the family itself, the refusal to understand marriage as directed toward the Kingdom of God…It is not the lack of respect for the family, it is the idolization of the family that breaks the modern family so easily, making divorce its almost natural shadow. It is the identification of marriage with happiness and the refusal to accept the cross in it.”

{Schmemann: For the Life of the Word, 90; quoted in forthcoming book}