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Sermon for October 7, 2012

Genesis 2:18-25 (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost—Series B)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

October 7, 2012

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is from Old Testament reading from Genesis 2:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed

            Marriage.  Is it something that we really need to talk about in the church?  Well, if we don’t talk about it in the church, there are plenty of other places that will talk about it, including the National Football League.  It was reported this past Tuesday that the issue of gay marriage has infiltrated the NFL.  From the NY Times NFL Blog,

Maryland and Minnesota are battlegrounds on the issue of gay marriage.  And now, surprisingly, so is the N.F.L.  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has publicly supported gay marriage, and Ravens center Matt Birk spoke out against it this past weekend…. What does Ravens Coach John Harbaugh think about the passionate and opposite views of two of his players ?  “Don’t discourage it or encourage it,” he said. “As long as everybody respects everybody else’s opinion, that’s the main thing.  We talk about politics, religion — movies, music.  It’s O.K. to have an opinion.”

 

            That pretty much sums up the American attitude about most everything these days.  Everybody can have their opinion and everyone’s opinion is legitimate and correct.  “How dare you say that my opinion on a particular subject is wrong!  Just because it’s not your opinion doesn’t mean we both aren’t right.  Both points of view should be given the same respect and credibility.”  So, using my favorite example, Bob is of the opinion that the sky is blue.  Sally is of the opinion that the sky is brown.  They agree to respect each others’ opinions and so they are both said to be right.  So the sky is blue and the sky is brown.  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it? 

            You see the problem with our culture today is that our culture doesn’t like absolute truth.  Absolute truth says this is the way it is and there are no exceptions.  For example, 2 + 2 = 4 is an absolute truth.  2 + 2 never equals anything else, no matter what your opinion about it might be.  If you go around saying that you believe 2 + 2 = 89, it’s not going to work for anyone.  Yet, when you leave the absolutes of mathematics, it seems like anything goes.  So even though on a clear day the sky looks blue, if you want to believe it is really brown you can do that and no one should fault you for it. 

            This is what has happened in a great portion of society regarding the absolute truth of God’s Word in the Bible.  According to a 2009 survey, about one out of five Americans, or 20%, do not believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant, inspired Word which is absolutely true.  I would guess if the survey were conducted today that figure would be higher.  That’s because we are told by society that you can believe one thing and I can believe another and we can both be right.  For example, the Bible says in the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not steal.”  You can believe that all forms of stealing, theft, cheating on a test, etc. are wrong.  I can believe that stealing from the store is wrong, but taking home pens and supplies from the office or getting the answers off of my friend’s homework are okay because I don’t think that’s really stealing.  Do you see the problem?  Do you begin to understand the issues and just what is at stake when the Bible isn’t received as God’s own Word and truth? 

            Hence we live in a world where there is a debate on marriage.  We live in a world in which church bodies have to study sexuality for years in order to figure out what is really good and right.  That is absurd!  For there is only one truth about marriage and sexuality and it is just as sure and certain as 2 + 2 = 4! 

            Man was a unique creation of God.  Formed from the dust of the ground, God breathed into him the breath of life and the man lived.  But he was alone.  There was no other living creature corresponding to him, in likeness to him, who would be to him a compatible opposite.  It is God who recognized this fact and so God takes what is “not good,” that the man should be alone, and makes it good, indeed perfect.  Yahweh God caused to fall upon the man a deep sleep and the man slept.  Now listen to the intimate, precious details of what God does.  “He took one of the man’s ribs and shut up the underside with flesh.  And Yahweh God built the rib which He had taken from the man into a woman.”  God fearfully and wonderfully made this woman to be the only living creature who corresponded to the man.  The woman was the only living creature who was like the man, his only compatible opposite.  She was built from him to be like him and to be with him as wife.  She was built from him to be like him so that he might be with her as husband. 

            God made them male and female.  God brought the woman to the man and gifted her to him as the only one corresponding to him, the only one like him, the only one suitable for him.  Why does God build Adam’s rib into a woman and then bring her to the man?  What is the implication of this?  God’s “therefore,” which Jesus Himself asserts in today’s Gospel lesson, tell us.  “Therefore, a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they will be one flesh.”  It’s absolute truth.  It doesn’t work any other way. 

A man and a woman correspond to each other physically, emotionally, spiritually.  A man and a woman marry each other, giving themselves to each other, not by a pledge of love as so many claim, but by a sworn promise of faithfulness.  Marriage isn’t established by God on the basis of two people loving each other.  Rather, marriage is established by a promise and oath, to live in this holy union as husband and wife as God set things up, being faithful to each other, forsaking all others, “until death us do part.” 

That’s why gay marriage doesn’t work.  It is clearly against the one Biblical truth that marriage is a union before the Lord of one man and one woman unto one flesh.  From the service of Holy Matrimony we read, “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support that each person ought to receive from the other, both in prosperity and adversity.  Marriage was also ordained so that man and woman may find delight in one another. . . . God also established marriage for the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the fear and instruction of the Lord so that they may offer Him their praise.”

Gay marriage doesn’t.  It doesn’t work anymore than divorce does.  Gay marriage doesn’t work anymore than physical and emotional abuse between spouses does.  These are all contrary to God’s one absolute truth.  That’s what we call sin.  Gay marriage doesn’t work in the sight of God anymore than does having sex outside of marriage, watching internet porn, lusting after a coworker, or cheating on a spouse.  “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.” 

Let’s face it, gay marriage is just one small part of a broader problem—sexual sin.  And that’s where Satan’s got us.  Marital unfaithfulness is found all over the place, even in congregations and among her pastors.  I know of three instances over the past three years where pastors have been removed because of marital unfaithfulness.  Sexual intercourse between unmarried persons, straight or gay, is rampant.  Contraception is being distributed to young people, in some cases very young people, who have no business engaging in this act that belongs strictly within the confines of marriage.   God forbids all of this, yet we even find ourselves tempted and succumbing to impure thoughts, desires, and actions for ourselves while even supporting the sins of others. 

Is this an issue we need to talk about in the church?  You bet it is, because it is only here in the church that we find the remedy to the sin problem.  It is only here in the church where we can find complete forgiveness and release from our sins and guilt as well as the power to overcome the temptations to fall into the trap of the devil again!  Romans 1:16, “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  For in the Gospel—in Word and Sacrament—Christ comes to His sinful children corrupted by lust and misplaced sexual desires and removes our sins, our lust, our greed for the passions of the world.  He comes and washes away the filth of porn and the guilt of fornication and adultery.  He takes away our sins of failing to always live according to the truth of His holy Word. 

This is what forgiveness really is.  Sin is removed.  Your guilt is taken away.  There is real, true, honest release found in the cross of Christ your Savior.  It is Jesus saying to you as he said to another sinner, “’Where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11 ESV) 

Not only do we freely receive from Christ the complete forgiveness for all our sins, we also receive from Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit the power to change our sinful lives and abstain from sin.  Romans 13:14 says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  That’s the power of the Gospel!  That’s the absolute truth of God’s Word in Christ at work for you and me. 

So let’s talk about God’s Word of truth in and outside of His church.  Hear and speak the truth of His Word of Law that shows us all our sins, including our sexual sins.  Hear and speak the truth of His Word of Gospel that gives us our Savior Jesus, the Gospel that enables us to repent of our sins and receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness.  Receive and give the Good News as the Holy Spirit turns us away from our sin to the new life of faith and holy living that is ours in Christ Jesus.  God grant this for Jesus’ sake.  Amen


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