Jan. 10, 2021

Defining marriage

Defining marriage

The Pharisees ask Jesus, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" After telling them that it is so, Jesus then tells them what God's will is for humanity.

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

Christian Podcaster Association


*this is not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript.




Not sure if any of you have seen the Disney movie Cars, but it is about the transformation of an arrogant race car into a caring and considerate race car. At the beginning, Lightening McQueen (the race car) describes himself by saying, “I am speed.” This is how I thought about myself on my first day at 6th grade track practice.


I weighed maybe seventy-five pounds and was only slightly taller than a hobbit, but I believed that I was going to be a star. Our coach had the entire team (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) begin by running a warm-up lap around the track, so I took off and was in the front until we reached the first turn. My little legs started fast, but the older boys quickly passed me and took the lead. That is not what bothered me, what bothered me was the 8th grade girl who passed me. She was a girl, and there was on way “speed” could lose to a girl. Going as fast I could, the girl kept pulling away. I never did catch her. How could I lose to a girl?


That is the attitude many take into their marriage. Guys believe they are the law and wives are not challenge their authority. Wives laugh at their husbands authority. Thus the battle of the sexes, which is what many believe to be what marriage means. But is that what God thinks? What is marriage?


Mark 10:6-9


6 “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (NIV)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.


Jesus is continuing his response to the Pharisees. The Pharisees had come to Jesus trying to trap him with the question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce?” Both Jesus and the Pharisees acknowledged in the law where Moses gave a husband this permission. However, Jesus pointed out this was not God’s will, but a concession to prevent worse things from happening. Divorce was allowed because of humanity’s brokenness. As we try to answer our question, “what is marriage,” we will be examining Jesus’ continued response to them.


VERSE 6 “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” Jesus continues his response by quoting scripture. Genesis 1:27 reads, “God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” (NET) Humanity did not create itself, we are here because God designed us and then breathed His life into us.


In the very first chapter of the Bible, God establishes that He is responsible for everything coming into being and for all life existing. When it comes to the verse we just read in Genesis, notice how God describes the creation of humanity. “God made them male and female.” Meaning, God made both man and woman. Genesis 2 gives a more detailed account of humanity’s creation, but that cannot be interrupted without Genesis 1. Woman was not formed as an afterthought; she has always been part of God’s design for creation.


Jesus quotes this in response to the Pharisees question, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce?” (Mark 10:2) He is telling them that God designed man and woman for one another. Pharisees wanted to focus on what was allowed by the law, Jesus pointed them away from what was allowable to what God wants for humanity.


VERSES 7-8 “ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.’” Jesus stays in Genesis for His explanation on God’s will for humanity. There is a lesson for you and me. If you want to know what God’s will is for you, me, and creation, study in Genesis 1 and 2. This is God’s original design, the one tainted by sin. The rest of the Bible explains sin, sin’s effects, and God’s effort to restore us to this design.


Jesus highlights Genesis 2:24, giving us the ABC’s of marriage. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother.” When we think of marriage, we think of the man obtaining permission from the bride’s father, then the woman leaving him. But notice God’s design points us to the man leaving his family to be with the woman. A woman was not made to be a commodity for man, but the two for one another.


A man leaves his family to “be united with his wife.” The man is leaving his family and the woman is leaving her family to become a new family. This new family is a new life with two individuals working together for God’s purpose. God’s purpose for humanity is “be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!” (Genesis 1:28)


The Pharisees are wanting to focus on death, which divorce is the death of a marriage. Jesus is pointing them back to God’s will, and that is what the people of God are to be pursuing. His people settle for nothing less.


VERSE 9 “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” This is not a quote from anywhere else. Jesus says, “what God has joined together, let man not separate.” The Law allows for divorce, but God’s will is for man to live. This also applies to marriage.


The word “joined” is an interesting one in the Greek. In the original language it means “to yoke together.” A yoke is a device often used with animals, like oxen, so they can work together equally to carry a load. Apply that idea in marriage, Jesus is saying a man and a woman come together as equals to shoulder the burdens of the new life they choose to form together. If they are unequally yoked, then the load becomes a bigger burden for one. This brings harm to one and possibly both, which leads to death. Death of a marriage is divorce, but God’s will is for life.


What is marriage? I am not talking about how we as humans define marriage. It is not what Oprah, Congress, or any human understanding tries to define it as. What is marriage according to the will of God? This is the answer you and I want as the people of God. God’s definition dismantles the Pharisees question, “is it lawful for man to divorce,” and any others that may arise.


Marriage is God’s will for one man and one woman. Whether you read in Genesis 1 or 2, God’s design for is for marriage. And that design is for a man and a woman. Anything beyond what God ordained is not the will of God. Man did not create marriage, God did, so it is by His definition we are called to live. God made man and He made woman, and He made them for one another.


Marriage is God’s will for one man and one woman equally yoked. First, this means they are of the same mind in commitment to yoke they both have chosen to share. Together they shoulder the burdens of their family, seeking to glorify God through living their lives together. Second, this means they are equal partners in the relationship, this is God’s designed outlined in Genesis 1 and 2. Many try to define marriage by Genesis 3, but the problem is that definition is a result of the curse of sin. God said to Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” This is not God ordaining this definition of marriage, he is sharing that this is the result of sin’s curse. The same curse Jesus died and rose again to free us from. Man’s internal struggle of needing to maintain control and provide without help is not God’s will, but the curse of sin. The same curse Jesus died and rose again to free us from.


Marriage is God’s will for one man and one woman for life. The man leaves his family and the woman leaves hers to come together and create a new life, a family. Creating life is through producing children and advancing the Kingdom of life with one another. If they are not both equally yoked, committed, to this chainless union then it begins to steal life. This call to remain committed to one another is impossible, but made possible through the grace of God.


The way a marriage is equally yoked is through love. Love is trusting the person yoked next to you and choosing to give yourself for them, just as Christ did for you and me, the Church. Paul writes that “Love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil. It always protects, trusts, and hopes.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) This is the love needed for a man and a woman to be able to submit to one another. If you want life in your marriage, God’s will for your marriage, this is the love you need to have. This is the love Christ has for you, and this is the love He can give to you.






Ephesians 5:22-33 reads, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church (he himself being the savior of the body). But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (NET)


We hear that word, “head,” and think of leadership in human terms. Humans base leadership on authority and power, but this is not how God views leadership. This is not how Jesus demonstrated leadership to us. God’s version of leadership is to become the least and the servant of others.


With the correct understanding, no matter how you read this passage from Paul, it reads that a man and a woman are called to a life of love for one another, requiring submission and service for each other. This is what Jesus has done for the Church, and the Church is doing in honor of Jesus who has made us joint heirs with Him.


As we focus on Jesus’ love for us, our call to love for our spouses, and really the call to love others, I believe it would be appropriate to take communion together. A song is going to play and I will take my place to serve you. But before you come up to receive your elements I want you reflect on three things. Are you living in loving submission to Jesus? To your spouse/family? To those in your community? If so, come get the bread and juice. If not, come get the bread and juice if you want Jesus to help you do so.






The body of Lord Jesus Christ, broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto everlasting life. Eat this in remembrance that Christ gave himself for you, and be thankful by doing likewise.


The blood of Lord Jesus Christ, shed for you, preserve you blameless unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and be thankful by doing likewise.