Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Day 44: Matthew 19:1-15 & Psalm 45 - Did Jesus Say Anything About Gender and Sexuality and Marriage?

Today's Reading: Matthew 19:1-15 & Psalm 45

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Did Jesus Say Anything About Gender and Sexuality and Marriage? 

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his 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.” - Matthew 19:3-6, ESV

You may have heard the claim that Jesus never said anything about LGBT issues - that He never spoke about same-sex marriage or gender issues. The implication behind these assertions is that the many other times the Bible speaks explicitly about these issues don't count because they weren't spoken by Jesus. Moses and Paul may have been bigoted homophobes, but Jesus was more open-minded and loving. Right? 

Well, today's passage challenges that assertion. Here we have Jesus speaking very clearly about gender and marriage in such strong terms that He makes the Pharisees look like liberals and offends His disciples, who believed marriage was not worth it if you couldn't get a quick divorce when you wanted to get out of it. 

Here's what Jesus clearly asserts:

1. God created people male and female from the beginning.
2. God created marriage to be between a man and a woman and to be a lifelong commitment.
3. God created marriage to be the "one flesh" joining of male and female as husband and wife, with the joining together being God's creation.

If we take the words of Jesus seriously here, then we can see that we cannot re-define marriage and gender without tearing apart the very fabric of humanity as God has created us. Male and female are not labels assigned by society and we are not free to change them at will. God created the genders and they are fixed by Him. Male and female were meant to complement each other in the bond of marriage, as they come together for form one flesh. Only male and female are capable of this kind of union because God has created the essence of male-ness and female-ness to be able to form this union.

God created genders and defines them. God created marriage and defines it. Humanity is not free to alter what God has created. These are not my ideas or the ideas of the right-wing of the Republican Party or the ideas of some crazy-eyed evangelical preacher. These are the teachings of Jesus Himself, very clearly presented here.

People have never fully liked what God created in marriage. In Jesus' day, a man could divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever. Men liked it that way, but such a quick-divorce culture hurt women. Jesus wanted to protect women from being throw away easily and wanted to protect the strong commitment of marriage because He knew that is what's best for people. 

It's always better for people to live according to God's creation design than in opposition to it. God made us. He loves us. He knows how we're supposed to live and He tells us these things for our good, We ignore them to our hurt. Let's commit to living according to God's design and lovingly seek to help others see the beauty of His loving genius, too.

Prayer Based on Psalm 45:

From Jesus' teaching on marriage, we turn to a love song celebrating a wedding . . .

Psalm 45 is a lone song written in honor of the king's wedding, praising the glory of the king and the beauty of the princess, his bride. It is ultimately a love song about Christ and the church, the King of kings and His glorious bride.

You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
    grace is poured upon your lips;
    therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
    in your splendor and majesty!
In your majesty ride out victoriously
    for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
    let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
    The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
     you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
     your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad.

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
    In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
    with her virgin companions following behind her.
With joy and gladness they are led along

    as they enter the palace of the king.

I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
    therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.


This Psalm reminds me of a beautiful new worship song from Audrey Assad, "Even Unto Death":

     

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