The following was a wedding homily, which I’ve adapted here for written and public format.
“Marriage is…(fill in the blank?)” I wonder how we would finish that sentence, using just one word. “Marriage is (what?).” If we had the time, it’d be interesting to survey a range of people and hear all the different ways folks would answer that question.
Maybe some would say, especially at a wedding, “Marriage is… beautiful.” Or maybe others would say, “Marriage is a gift.”
And both of those are true. But what if I told you that we could also finish that sentence this way, “Marriage is death”?
Now if marriage is something of a death, I suppose that means a wedding is in fact a funeral. And if you’re the ones getting married, that means on your wedding day you’re actually attending your own funerals!
That’s what I would like us to consider: marriage as a death.
1. Leaving & Cleaving
First, marriage involves the death of two independent lives, as husband and wife come together to form “one flesh.”
Edit: In the sermon, I mention that the word “Lord” (κύριος, otherwise translated “master”) is used eight times in 3:18-4:1, seven of which refer to Christ. That is not correct. I realized afterward that I miscounted. “Lord” is actually mentioned nine times, seven of which indeed refer to Christ (and one additional time if one includes the reference in 3:17).
Across history, Christians have worshiped God in their homes as families on a daily basis. What is family worship, what does it look like, and what are some practical instructions for how we might go about implementing it in our own homes? In today’s episode, we talk to Donald Whitney, a professor of Biblical spirituality, about the practice of family worship.
As those who believe that “the Bible is God’s very word, … supremely authoritative for what is true and right,” and, as such, “is to be … obeyed in all that it commands” (I. Scripture under Membership Affirmations in the Constitution), we must look to scripture to determine how we should view, handle, and approach the matter of divorce and the potential remarriages that would follow.
However, the subject of divorce and remarriage is one over which many faithful Christians disagree. All agree that remarriage is intended to be a life-long union, with remarriage being permissible after the death of one’s spouse. But, with regards to remarriage after a divorce, whereas some believe that such remarriages are always wrong, others believe that remarriage after divorce may be permissible in certain select cases. Good, respectable arguments exist on both sides. And faithful, Bible-believing Christians disagree.
As members of this church, we are called to hold one another accountable and to intervene in each other’s lives (church discipline) when we stray from following Christ. And we have covenanted to do just that (see the Church Covenant in our Constitution). This discipline and mutual-accountability encompasses all areas of life, no less our marriages, divorces, and potential remarriages.
The question thus emerges, how shall we as a church engage in this sort of mutual-accountability and discipline in the midst of potential disagreements over what is right or permissible with respect to divorce and remarriage? To this end we accept the below principles, which we believe express minimum strictures expected of Bible-adhering Christians, as our boundaries for accountability and discipline.
Top (from left): Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Roy Moore. Bottom: John Besh, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Richard Dreyfuss. (AP images)
The past month or so, we’ve seen incident after incident after incident of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct (Weinstein, Franken, Moore, etc.). We’ve witnessed (or participated in) the #MeToo trend, bringing awareness to and identifying what is apparently a pervasive problem in our society. Yet, as these scandals have unfolded, many have responded with shock and surprise. “I can’t believe that [so and so] did that…”
Christians believe in the doctrine of sin — that humanity is broken and rebellious against God, rejecting his good purposes. And so, on the one hand, Christians are never totally surprised when humanity acts heinously. We have theological categories for this.
On the other hand, there’s a certain level of shock that should always be present — a shock that matches the degree of sin’s audacity. Even as we understand humanity’s disposition to sin and propensity to commit great acts of evil, this reality doesn’t make sin any less appalling. Furthermore, due to God’s (common) restraining grace on humanity, we expect people to treat others with a certain base-level of dignity, even in their sinfulness.
But, at this point in the cultural story, if you’re still surprised when the latest sexual assault scandal emerges, you shouldn’t be.