On Sunday I preached on "The Good News and Marriage." Prior to Sunday I understood this particular subject would be impossible to appropriately cover in a single morning. So I thought it would be helpful to ask you, the good folks of Dwell, what sorts of questions came to mind during the sermon. I ventured to answer ten questions, but soon realized that was more than I could conquer in a single post. So here are the first five questions and answers; I'll answer another five by the middle of next week. Thanks so much for participating! I hope you find these helpful and let me know if you have any additional questions ...
- Was it wrong to support DOMA? In short, no. The Defense of Marriage Act was a particular piece of legislation enacted in 1996 which earlier this year was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The law allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages sanctioned in other states. Additionally it articulated a definition of “spouse(s)” that limited federal benefits to heterosexual couples. In my estimation and generally speaking, the government was doing it’s best to define marriage. The problem is, marriage is not a humanly designed institution. God invented marriage. Therefore whether in politics, education, family life and so on, Christians ought to always seek God’s intentions, which lead to human flourishing. However we should not be discouraged or surprised when such things are not ratified universally.
- Is gay marriage a cultural swing that should therefore be permitted unappeased? Yes, marriage is a cultural swing; there is in fact a new marriage culture in the west. But no, we should not simply allow it to be permitted unappeased. Let's remember, this is God’s world, marriage is his thing, and he knows what he's doing. Therefore God’s framework for covenantal marriage isn’t simply so because he felt like it and then put it in the Bible, but rather because this relational framework is best, most harmonious, and healthiest for humanity. Full of humility and grace, and with the gospel message and mission in full view, Christians ought to pursue the shalom and order of God even against a tide of opposition. (more on this from Pastor Kevin DeYoung)
- Since marriage is about the covenant, does it matter who you marry (as long as they are a believer)? Absolutely it matters! God has uniquely crafted each of us by his grace; our personalities, tendencies, joys, and sorrows all specifically make us who we are. In fact–if you’ll allow the romantic in me to respond–before I even met Laura, God saw my wedding day perfectly and I wasn’t standing next to a faceless women who was yet-to-be-determined. God saw Laura standing there with me. I believe she is the match God crafted and ordained just for me. Much more can be said here, but I hope this was helpful in at least addressing the main question.
- The sermon this week caused me to question my ideas about suicide. "There is always a way back to God through Christ," so people who commit suicide can go to heaven if they were believers? I’m picking-up on two questions here. One, is it true that a person who commits suicide is going to hell regardless of repentance and faith? Two, can someone be saved after death … is there still a way back to God? As far as the first question is concerned the idea that suicide is an automatic ticket to hell is a myth. That is not taught in Scripture. Suicide is not an unforgivable sin. What is taught is Scripture is that if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). And everyone, save perhaps for the person who comes to faith moments prior to death, sins against God after conversion … and Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension covers it all. (more on the Bible and suicide) Secondly, and in short, no. Hebrews 9:27 states people are destined to die once and after that comes judgment. However, no offense in life is beyond the reach of God's forgiveness and the power of Jesus’ work; every sinner in this life can be redeemed in this life through faith, by the grace of God.
- How do you grow Christ's presence in your family with an unbelieving spouse? This is such an important question. Practically speaking, I don’t really know. Theologically and missionally speaking, I believe our homes are always our primary mission fields. (I think this is why whenever the qualifications of pastors, elders, and deacons are discussed in the New Testament, home life is always central.) That means regardless of a spouse’s faith or children’s faith, our main missional object is always to share Jesus and cultivate an environment of grace in our homes. This obviously is a clearer task when both mom and dad, husband and wife know and love Jesus. But even in my house, even though Laura is a Christian I still feel a tremendous responsibility and calling to lovingly and humbly remind her of the gospel, who Jesus is, and what he is up to in her life and in our world. This is done directly and indirectly; obviously and subtley; with Bible verses and without. And she does the same for me all the time! That being said, I’m a bit out of water when it comes to this subject, so I commend you to the website: Winning Him Without Words. A friend of mine blogs and dialogues here regularly on this exact subject.
Any follow-up questions or responses? Email firstname.lastname@example.org