Gospel Redeemed Marriages

We are concluding a CE class on marriage at church this Sunday.  I commend Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage DVD sessions and book for the class.  The quote below captures the gospel-centeredness of his material which is why it is so immensely useful and eminently practical.

It is telling to observe that the first two things Adam and Eve did after disobeying God was to cover themselves and to hide.  For the very first time, they experienced shame and guilt.  They feared discovery and judgment, and although they worked to shift the blame to someone else, they were playing a fool’s game.  The blame-shifting did not quiet their hearts.  It did not bring them peace.  What they had done brought shame upon them and guilt in relation to God.  It is important to understand that the shame and guilt were not just psychological or emotional experiences; they were real, and they had to be dealt with.

Dealing with our guilt and shame is what the whole Bible is about.  It is about redemption, that is, the paying of a debt of guilt and shame that needed to be paid.  That payment was made on the cross.  Jesus took our shame, hanging in public, numbered with criminals.  He took our guilt by taking our sin on himself and paying the price for it—death.  He did this even though he had no reason for either shame or guilt, because he was a perfect man.  He did not do these things for himself; every action in the whole process was substitutionary.  It was done for us.  Why?  So guilt and shame would not hold us; so that in the courage of celebratory faith we would quit hiding, quit excusing, quit blaming, and quit rising to our own defense.  So that we could be unafraid of saying, ‘You are right, and I was wrong, and I need your forgiveness.’  So that we could say, ‘I know I blew it last night, but I’m committed to doing better.’  So that we could say to one another, ‘I need your help.  I don’t always see myself accurately.  If you see something wrong in me, I welcome you to help me see it as well.’  So that we could look at our marriages and not declare that they are perfect but celebrate the fact that, over the years, we have taken many important steps closer to what God has called us to be and has designed our marriages to become (Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect?? [Wheaton: Crossway, 2010], 78-9).

Undermining Marriage

Big story.  Bad news.  Really bad news.

Obama Administration Drops Defense of Anti-Gay Marriage Law

Several observations:

  1. This is a directive from President Obama himself.
  2. This is an implicit affirmation of homosexual marriage (moral openness to/approval of gay marriage).
  3. This is an implicit warning to those who uphold traditional marriage as between one man and one woman (a moral judgment of bigotry against those who oppose gay marriage). 

The message is clear.  President Obama and his administration are undermining traditional marriage.  Brace yourself.  You can be sure there is more to come along the same line.

The Sexual Past of a Potential Future Spouse

Russell Moore, a Baptist pastor, educator, and author, answers inquiries received on “Questions & Ethics.”  This week’s question dealt with the question, “How Much Do I Need to Know About My Potential Spouse’s Sexual Past?”  Moore’s answer is filled with wise practical and Biblical counsel.  Good direction if you’re thinking through this question.  Here are some samplings from the exchange:

A summary of the young lady’s question:

My question: should I ask him about his past? If so, how should I ask it, and at what point in the relationship?

Snippets of Moore’s answer:

Having said that, though, this question can be very dangerous for you, at this point.

A man who will brush off past fornication as “no big deal” from which he’s “moved on” is a man with a conscience trained to do the same thing with future adultery.

As the discernment process continues, though, your need to know further will expand. By that time, you will know more about the character and trajectory of this man.

You are not “owed” a virgin because you are. Your sexual purity wasn’t part of a quid pro quo in which God would guarantee you a sexually unbroken man. Your sexual purity is your obligation as a creature of God.

HT: Tim Challies

Infertility and an Everlasting Name That Will Not Be Cut Off

One of the foundational commands given to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28).  There are many couples who earnestly desire to fulfill this command but for one reason or another cannot.  Infertility is a devastating reality that many couples struggle with.  According to the CDC,

  • Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to have children): 7.3 million
  • Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity: 11.8%
  • Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 2.1 million

It is God, the Giver of life, who opens the barren womb (Isaiah 42:5; 1 Timothy 6:13; Psalm 113:9).  A number of Biblical women were barren until God allowed them to give birth; Michal is the exception:  Sarah (Genesis 16:1-2), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 30:1), Samson’s mother (Judges 13:3), Michal (2 Samuel 6:23), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11), and Elisabeth (Luke 1:7).  Childless Absalom erected a monument with his name since he did not have a son to propagate it (2 Samuel 18:18).  Isaiah 56:4-5 offers a word of encouragement to those who cannot bear children,

For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, [5] I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off”

Those who suffer infertility echo the anguished sentiment of the eunuch, “Behold, I am a dry tree” (Isaiah 56:3).  While infertility may not fulfill the command of Genesis 1:28, it does not prohibit a couple from fulfilling the greatest purpose of all: to propagate the Name that will not be cut off.  Infertility and the desire for children can become an idol just like any other good thing (remember when the children of Israel turned the Bronze serpent, a divinely ordained instrument of salvation, into an idol in 2 Kings 18:4).  When God, and not children, is the center of our existence, we are “enriched with blessings far beyond those which even an earthly family (sons and daughters) might have brought” (Motyer, Isaiah, 466).  Another author encourages childless couples,

Not that childless couples or single persons are not in the will of God or cannot make significant contributions to the kingdom; physical fruitfulness is but a part of God’s overall desire for humans to be fruitful, which includes spiritual fruitfulness as well” (Köstenberger, God, Marriage, and Family, 129-30, emphasis added).