Sermon Text: Exodus 20:14, Genesis 2:18-24
GOD PROTECTS MARRIAGE
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You do not forsake our marriages but promise to abide with Your blessing. We ask You to guard the sanctity of marriage in our families whole and undefiled. As we go about our vocations as married or single, make us quiet but firm defenders of marital faithfulness and sexual purity to our children, friends, and community in word and deed. Amen.
Dear people loved and purchased by God to be His own holy bride: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Did you notice, when we said the 6th commandment and then “What does this mean,” it had only positive statements? It’s the only commandment where the catechism meaning has no negatives.
It would seem to us that of all the commandments it would be the one most full of no’s. Because what comes from “every impure desire, word, or deed in matters of sex” (ELS Q. #64) is a long list.
When we hear “6th commandment” we easily think of all the “what you can’t do with your body.” No-no-no, don’t-don’t-don’t. People hear this as a basically negative message. But in the catechism, all you have are two positive statements: (1) “that we lead a chaste and decent life in word and deed,” and (2) “that husband and wife love and honor each other.”
So what’s the deal, is Luther ignoring all the 6th commandment sins, sweeping them under the rug? No, not at all! But the 6th commandment is anchored in something that happened before there was ever a sin. It’s here in Genesis 2:18-24, the historical account of the first marriage. This is when God created marriage – “at the beginning (Mt 19:4).”
This is still the most important Bible passage on the 6th commandment and on the subject of marriage. First we hear God say: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Then we see that God carefully creates woman out of the man and brings her to Adam; this is God showing – and creating – what is good: marriage between man and woman.
After that, we hear Adam say, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman.” It isn’t just his own response. It’s Adam – the first pastor – pronouncing God’s blessing on woman, on marriage, on God’s creation of her to be his wife. God says it is good.
How great this is! Marriage is good, God made it. Your marriage is good, God made it. Your future marriage is good, and you can wait in hope because God promises to make that marriage for you. He fearfully and wonderfully makes the man or woman He wants to join you with. He fearfully and wonderfully made you. What your body is like, how you fit together in similarities and contrasts, it’s all by God’s design.
But, we ask, what about all that bad stuff? People who are divorced or separated have a hard time saying that their marriage was good. What about when a marriage turns into a chorus of “You don’t give this to me” and “You don’t do this for me”? Even in the best marriages, this is there.
This is not the fault of God’s creation. It’s the fault of sin which entered the world. You can see how God’s gift of marriage and sex has been corrupted by sin. So it’s good to begin at the beginning, in Genesis 2.
The words of Genesis 2:24 are where God, ahead of time, answers all the issues and questions sin brings into marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” You can take every challenge to marriage and Biblical morality and answer it with this verse, as Jesus did in the New Testament. Jesus quotes this passage to answer questions about marriage.
There are three parts to this verse, three instructions: First is leaving, second is “cleaving,” or joining, in marriage; third is the one-flesh union, the physical part that comes after marriage. This order and the way God designed it is made to combat the devil’s schemes for destroying marriage.
Of course we would respond that in today’s world this is all messed up. Many, many people do things in the wrong order. Or condone homosexual behavior. And we don’t have perfect marriages. Everyone is lacking in some way. So you are tempted to think that your marriage is not good.
We return to Genesis 2 – the time before sin was in the world – to get a picture of marriage in God’s eyes: holy and good. You can look at your life before marriage, or in marriage, or if you’re divorced you can look at that reality, and say: How can I possibly be good and holy before God in this?
The answer is Jesus Christ. He gives you this holiness. He was there in the beginning. He is the God who made marriage, “and it was very good.” It wasn’t only true of Adam and Eve. This is His plan and design for you and for your own marriage. This is glorious.
It might not feel glorious. While He created marriage before the fall into sin, it was in marriagethat sin came in. Sin still comes into marriage, and it comes into the picture with these 6thcommandment sins before marriage.
Although sin is in the picture, what else is? Grace, forgiveness of sins. God made the very thing that would take the sin away and make the marriage glorious again. He sent forth Jesus, our dear Redeemer.
Jesus makes it so that the forgiving of sins – by God — comes into marriage too. Jesus’ pure and holy life in word and deed atones for all the sins we commit in marriage and all the 6th commandment sins you’re guilty of as a single person or in the context of divorce.
But He doesn’t only take sins away, which is a negative aspect: what He negates. He doesn’t only cancel out your sinful words, thoughts, and actions, but He also gives you something positive to take its place. He gives you His perfect holiness, innocence, and blessedness. He pours it into you. He fills you with it. He makes you clean in body, mind, and soul.
Why this matters: There are many precious souls who are victims of sexual sin or sexual abuse. Many who were led into sins they didn’t want to be part of. And so many people stand before God in this life filled with shame and feeling unclean. They feel that they are damaged goods.
Also, our young people are on the front lines, standing in harm’s way. Young people, we teach you in catechism instruction – which comes before you face the heaviest onslaught of these temptations – that you are to use God’s teaching in Genesis 2:24 and in the 6th commandment as a guide for holy living. And the reason for this is because it’s all here to protect you.
But when young people take their cues from the culture and society’s changing moral standards and get the impression that it’s OK to hook up or shack up, or think viewing porn is just normal, or think homosexuality is a legitimate choice, not that according to God it’s unnatural, what happens? They’ve opened themselves up to constant attacks from the devil. What he does is to convince them it’s no big deal, or to make Christians embarrassed of who they are as Christians. But then after the fact he produces real shame – he makes them ashamed of what they’ve done or what they’ve become. He makes them uncomfortable being in church in the presence of holy things. They can end up thinking it isn’t for them.
This commandment is here to protect you from all that.
My job as a pastor is to teach you to avoid involving yourself in these sins, for the sake of your conscience and your soul! But I also am here to preach the gospel and tell you that such sins are forgivable. The Lord and His Church – which is also your church, and your true family – will never give up on you and don’t want you to stay away, for Jesus is your greatest help, especially in this: that He makes you clean from all these sins.
He does this when He gives you His blood. The Bible says: “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7). See how – and where – He does this for you. It’s in His Word – as the forgiveness of sins is spoken to you and preached to you. But also in His Sacraments:
He gives you His blood in your baptism, for in baptism He is pouring His cleansing into you. Through the words, “I baptize you in the Name of …,” Jesus comes into the water of baptism with His cleansing blood. So hear the promises of your baptism and rejoice that you are clean!
He gives you His blood to drink in the Lord’s Supper and it cleanses you. You receive cleansing not only in your soul, but also your body. He makes you clean from all the sins you’ve done and that have been done to you. You are not damaged goods. The devil’s attacks upon you are undone.
So if you have evil thoughts or lusts, if you have memories of your sins, if you have fear or confusion about God’s will for gender, sex, and marriage, if you have pain from abuse or divorce, if you have guilt or shame, bring it with you to the Lord’s Supper. This is where Jesus gives you His blood to drink so it will purify and cleanse you from all this. Your conscience shouts that you are unclean, but His blood that you drink quiets your conscience and says: You are clean, and now you can serve Him in an unfettered way. His body and His blood also help you fight these sins and thoughts, and make you want your will to align with God’s will, and make you stronger to live a chaste and holy life, with His help.
See what the 6th commandment is for? It’s for your good, and for God to guard and keep you, married or unmarried, as His holy bride. Amen!