God Makes Man & Marriage
Today is a special Sunday as we are all together for a Family Service. So Mums and Dads I hope to speak to the kids as well as to the adults. Boys and girls, I hope you too can listen carefully and learn something this morning from God's Word.
Let me ask the adults if they remember what we spoke about last week! Right – we studied the very first chapter in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis 1, which tells us all about God creating the world. We noticed that creation was split up into six stages. In the very beginning God created the heavens and the earth but the earth, the Bible tells us, was empty and there was darkness. Then God's Spirit, the Giver of Life, began to move over the waters, ready to energize the whole creation. The process of God's filling the heavens and the earth is then outlined for us. On the:
First Day: Light was created
Second Day: God separated the sky and the water
Third Day: Land and seas were formed, and vegetation began
Fourth Day: The sun, moon and stars were made
Fifth Day: Fish and birds were made
Sixth Day: Animals and finally man and woman were made
Seventh Day: God rested and declared all He had made was good.
We mentioned last week that man was the climax of God's creation. Of course when we say man we mean both male and female. When we say mankind we include men and women and boys and girls. In Chinese too mankind includes both male and female. In Chinese we say ren lei 人类 which is both male and female. The Bible tells us that man was made in God's image. Being made in God's image means mankind is like God in certain ways.
1. Man is a rational being (i.e. he can think and reason);
2. Man has a moral nature (i.e. he is aware of right and wrong and has a sense of values and has a conscience); and
3. He possesses a regal status (i.e. he has intrinsic dignity, status and worth – he is precious and has a living soul). These facts show that men and women, all people, possess the qualities that make us different from animals: morality, reason, creativity, and self worth. Physically we may look like a monkey, for example, and some boys really are monkeys aren't they, but in reality we are totally different to monkeys and all other animals. God has made people special.
In Genesis 1:27 it says, “...male and female He created them.” Both man and woman were made in God's image. One sex does not enjoy a higher status than the other, and one sex is not to be treated lower than the other. So boys and girls you must remember this too. God loves boys and girls equally. In some cultures, boys are valued more highly than girls. In these cultures families may prefer to have a son because this means one more to work the fields or support the family when they grew up. A girl, when she gets married, is seen as leaving her family and joining her husband's family. The Bible teaches a very different way. Girls are equally precious in God's sight. They have every right to education – just as boys do. It was Christianity that first encouraged the opening of schools and colleges for women in China. The same is true in Muslim nations today. Just think of the terrible exploitation of women occurring in many Muslim nations! In our so-called modern and secular society in the West, I believe we also see the degrading of women. We see it in the media, in glossy magazines, in the pornography trade.
Women are valued only for their good looks or their shapely bodies. This is a terrible evil. Women are not just objects. They are people, equally loved and valued by the creator God.
One other thing we should note about what the Bible teaches us is that male and female, while of equal status and value, are nonetheless different. Humanity (male and female) is bi-sexual. God created Adam and Eve, the man and the woman. Men are to be men and women are to be women. We are to complement one another and support one another. We are built differently. We have different communication styles, emotional needs and modes of behaviour. We sometimes think and react differently. Men do not come from Mars or women from Venus - but we are different. This is why homosexuality is so wrong. It is not part of God's plan. While some men may be more effeminate (i.e. more like women in their manner) and some women may be more masculine (i.e more like men) the difference between the sexes is basic and clear. Detailed studies in America and Europe show that only one to three percent of the population has homosexual tendencies. Even if one has such a tendency this does not make homosexual practice right or excusable. It comes down to choice. As with all sin – we do not sin because we have no choice. We sin when we disobey and go our own way – by choice. Like all sin, homosexuality brings the judgment of God. But just as there is forgiveness and deliverance for the sinner so there is forgiveness and deliverance for the sinner who is homosexual. The homosexual, like the alcoholic or someone gripped by pornography, can be delivered by God's power.
So, the Bible teaches there are two sexes – male and female. Our sexuality (as either male or female) is something to be celebrated and treasured.
In Genesis chapter 2 we have a more detailed account of the creation of man – male and female. Verse 7 tells us, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Our bodies are no different in chemical make-up to the dust. It is God who breathes life into the shell of our body – and we become living souls. When we die our physical body returns to dust. It is God who gives us life and value. You are not special because you are cleverer, or stronger, or prettier, or bigger than someone else. No, you are special because God has given you life and He loves you. You are not useless or worthless because you are not as good as someone else or not as successful as someone else. No, your worth and value come from the same fact that God has made you and given you life. He loves you and has a plan for you.
We read that God put the man He made into a beautiful garden. Everything was perfect and he had everything he needed. Or did he? Let us look at verse 18. “The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”
God brought all the animals and birds for the man to give them names. But notice that none of these animals or birds could be the helper and companion that the man needed. Some people have a dog or a cat that they love. In some cultures people keep birds which they take out for walks and which they feed lovingly. But no animal or bird can fill the role of helper or companion for man.
Now for the first time, in verse 20, we see the name of the man – it is Adam. Actually Adam simply means – “the man”. Now God did something very special for Adam. Let us read verses 21 & 22. “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; while he was sleeping, He took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man.” God's creation was not complete until He made woman. I like what Matthew Henry said about God making woman - “not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”
Then God brought the woman to Adam. What was his reaction when he saw her? “WOOO - man!” No, I'm only joking. But I am sure he was pretty excited and overwhelmed, nevertheless. God provided Adam with a “helper suitable for him”. The woman complements the man. She is a perfect partner and companion. He is incomplete without her. This passage tells us that marriage was God's idea.
The Bible goes on to teach some very important things about marriage. Verse 24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Marriage was God's perfect gift to Adam and Eve, and it is His creation gift to mankind. Marriage is not just for convenience, to be entered or exited simply according to our whim or fancy. It is like the Chinese say, 终身大事 zhong shen da shi , “a very big thing lasting a life-time”. Involved in marriage is:
1. A “leaving”
When we marry we must leave our parents. Of course, we always love and respect, and when necessary care for, our parents but once a couple get married they form their own nuclear family. Neither set of parents should interfere in the decision-making processes of the husband and wife. Their son, or daughter, is no longer under their authority. Many problems come in marriages when “in-laws” have too much say. This is why it is sometimes important for a newly married couple to live on their own, not in the home of their parents. There has to be a “leaving”. That leaving is also a leaving of our old single and independent life. No longer can we make decisions on our own. We have to discuss things together as a couple.
2. A “uniting”
The man and the woman are joined together by making a public commitment to love and care for one another. They promise to take responsibility for caring for and supported their mate, and being faithful to them as long as they both are alive. Marriage is a serious life-long commitment. This commitment is a vital part of building a stable marriage. Those who co-habit or live together without getting married are going against the clear teaching of the Bible. The ones most likely to get hurt are themselves. Sadly marriages do break up but the statistics for the break-up of de-facto relationships (where people simply live together while not being married) are very much more frightening. And lives get badly hurt. Within marriage too, when there is unfaithfulness by one or other partner, terrible hurt is the result. The only way for a truly happy and lasting marriage is for life-long commitment to one's marriage vows – “ I, Peter, take you, Elizabeth, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, honour and protect you, till death us do part, according to God's holy law; and this is my solemn vow.”
3. Becoming one flesh
This is a clear reference to the intimacy of sexual union, which is reserved for marriage. Sex is God's idea. It is His gift within the marriage relationship. Young people, do not be misled by the media, by TV or movies, or by magazines or music, or by your friends. It is definitely worth keeping yourself for the one you marry. Boys and girls you can talk to your parents about these things. I started praying for God to guide me about my future wife when I was only about eleven or twelve. I only did this because some older Christian guys who I really admired recommended it. I wasn't even really interested in girls at that time. But I believe God truly answered my prayers. Teenagers, if you have a serious boy friend or girl friend, I encourage you to pray together not simply talk together or go out together. I also recommend that you sit down together and draw up a list of things that you will NOT do physically. Set clear boundaries. Keep your sexual purity. It will stand you in good stead when you do come to get married.
Finally - a word to those who are single. Remember that singleness can also be a gift from the Lord. There are seasons in our lives when we may be single – before we ever find a suitable life-partner, or after we lose our life-partner. God knows perfectly well how we feel and He is able to make our lives fulfilling and happy even without a marriage partner. In fact it is very dangerous for anyone, married or single, to think that our value and worth, and our happiness depends upon anyone other than the Lord. If you are looking to a man or a woman to give you that sense of worth or security that you need, you are looking in the wrong place. The Lord is the only one to whom we should look. Whether single or married we must put Him first in our lives. We must love and obey Him. This is the true path of happiness and security.