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Our most vital union

The Kingdom, rather than marriage, is our ultimate goal.

-Nathan Campbell-

This article is the second of a series of three that are part of a conversation about the Christian view of marriage, arising from the last issue of AP.

When Jesus is asked about marriage, divorce, and life in God’s kingdom He starts His answer by pointing back to how things were created to be echoing the end of Genesis 2, where the Triune God – who is one God in three persons – speaks in the plural, saying “let us make mankind in our image” and then makes them male and female with the capacity to be simultaneously two and one.

Marriage, this loving relationship where difference and equality are on display, is a reflection of who God is, and it is this created “oneness” that Jesus points back to when He says “…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” (Matt. 19:4-6). Marriage is for oneness — and so for love, and sex, which might or might not produce children. Children are a possible “fruit” of marriage, but not its sole purpose; and marriage is certainly not the purpose of our humanity.

Neither Genesis, nor Jesus, speak of two half humans finding their “whole” in marriage, but two people, made in God’s image, joining together in a way that expresses something that is true about God’s own nature.

“Children are a possible “fruit” of marriage, but not its sole purpose; and marriage is certainly not the purpose of our humanity.”

When Jesus gives His answer, He says divorce is the product of hard human hearts; then gives a “Kingdom” approach to marriage where some might choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom (Matt. 19:1-12, advice Paul picks up in 1 Cor. 7), because God’s Kingdom, not marriage, is our ultimate destination, as humans.

As Christians, our marriages — the oneflesh union between male and female — no longer simply reflects who God is in an abstract way, but is a picture of the real union between Christ and the church (Eph. 5, Rev. 19:6-10).

This greater reality, our union with Christ, changes how we think of multiplication, “Godly offspring”, or fruit. The Great Commission picks up the Genesis command to be fruitful and multiply, by calling us to fill the globe with His disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). These are not two commissions, but one, with the first now fulfilled in Christ.

As Christians we must take Jesus’ words about the “law, the Psalms, and the Prophets” (Luke 24:44-46) and the law (Matt. 5:17) seriously and ask how this command to be fruitful is answered in Christ. We’re now to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples, not simply fill it with our progeny. Jesus calls the Pharisees to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8), then later says the kingdom will be taken away from them and given to people who will “produce its fruit” (Matt. 21:43).

The call to “increase” from Genesis is answered as the “word of God increases and multiplies” and “spreads and flourishes” (Acts 6:7, 12:24, which both use the same Greek word as the Septuagint uses in Gen. 1:28). In Jesus, fruitful multiplication of the family of God is about God’s eternal family. Fruitfulness comes through our recreation as God’s children, which happens through His death and resurrection, and via the Spirit, who transforms us into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8). In the epistles, the language of family shifts consistently from “blood-ties” or tribe, to the Spirit-ties of brothers and sisters in Christ.

Children are a blessing for some married couples, and marriage is the created context for raising children in the faith, but our hard human hearts mean we miss this ideal, just like our Old Testament forbears. We can’t produce the godly offspring of Malachi 2, because Jesus is the “godly offspring”, and more godly offspring are re-created in Him. For those who are married, our marriages are an opportunity to live out the gospel and pursue fruitful offspring; but this is true in all our relationships, married or single, because all of us are “commissioned” to participate in this task.

Nathan Campbell is a pastor with the Creek Road Presbyterian Church, Qld.

1 Comment on Our most vital union

  1. J. Sheryl Adam // July 19, 2018 at 12:37 am // Reply

    All man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) are treated equally under God’s given law on adultery. However, the 2017 amended Marriage Act has not only legalised adultery, but it pretends that the act of adultery no longer causes any harm to the public and society, as it has removed the criteria of an exclusive union between one man and one woman for life as this is known as a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage). In 1975, the introduction of the no fault divorce law decriminalised (no longer punished) adultery and breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) as civil registered marriage was no longer based on faithful sexual intercourse nor a lifelong contract.

    In 1856, the NSW parliament forced all Christian ministers/priests to accurately record all church marriages on a public marriage registry as this then allowed the courts a legal right to punish (criminalise) the harm of adultery and the harmful practice of breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oath. The only records of births, deaths and marriages were recorded in church registries from 1788-1856. There were no records of any same-sex marriage because same-sex partners can’t consummate the marital act of sexual intercourse, and adultery can only happen between a man and a woman, and for adultery to even exist, a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) has had to existed prior to the act of adultery.

    Genuine Christians need to protect their children from the harm of adultery and the harmful practice of breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oath because it leads to a breakdown of a genuine marriage/family which is a massive cost to all levels of government, society and children suffer the most from the separation of biological parents. Adultery shouldn’t be confused with other types of sexual behaviours such as sodomy. The NSW government doesn’t regulate sex offenders by registering them on a public registry with sex workers. The NSW government could decide that both sex offenders and sex workers should be legally treated the same as they’re both equally into having sex, so they need to be on the same public registry in order that sex offenders aren’t treated as second class and sex workers are treated as first class citizens. However, this practice would only confuse the public and society as the type of sexual behaviour of sex offenders would be regulated as the same as sex workers.

    It is obvious to genuine Christians that the 2017 amended Marriage Act and no fault divorce law aren’t part of the Christian faith in the sacrament of man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) and a no fault divorce law isn’t a religious divorce. This means genuine Christians can choose “independence” or “ind” from the deregulated civil registered marriage practice in Australia. This practice no longer regulates biological sex, man-woman “one flesh” (marriage), natural procreation, nurturing and raising of new-life (natural human reproduction), kinship families nor the breakdown of their sexual union and kinship family. Australian farmers don’t pretend that the public roads authorities are regulating their roads on private property, so genuine Christian shouldn’t pretend by putting their moral aside to legally consent to a civil registered marriage between “any 2 people” nor a no fault divorce law which isn’t based on faithful sexual intercourse nor a lifelong contract. Genuine Christians believe in God’s commandments/laws including coveting another man’s wife which leads to adultery, rather than a no fault divorce law which pretends that money can compensate the harm of adultery and breaking a man-woman “one flesh” (marriage) oath. Genuine Christians can accept the deception and lies in the deregulated civil registered marriage practice in Australia.

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