Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Marriage and Gospel: Some Thoughts on Haters

I am reading through James Hamilton’s commentary on Revelation titled Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Church. This is one of the volumes in Crossway’s Preaching the Word Commentary Series. I don’t usually read commentaries; I use them for reference. But I determined to read one commentary each year, and this is my New Testament selection for this year.

Chapter 18 of Revelation speaks of the judgment of Babylon. In writing of this, Hamilton made an observation that set me thinking. Of this judgment he said:
There will be darkness with no more relationships, as we see in 18:23a: “and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more.” Marriage is about the gospel. It is about Jesus and the church. Babylon hates Jesus, rejects him as King, and kills those who preach his gospel. So they have the gift and joy of marriage removed (p.343).
In writing to the Ephesians, Paul addresses the responsibilities of husbands and wives as they live together. He concludes the discussion by saying, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). As Lames Hamilton observed, marriage reminds us of the gospel.

This reminds me the current cultural debate over the issue of sexuality and gender identification. Is the world’s hatred of Jesus and his gospel at the core of the culture’s hostility toward one man and one woman marriage? If the gospel cannot be destroyed, then perhaps the goal is to deface this demonstration of it.

How can one man + one woman = one flesh be true of those in same sex unions? I understand that heterosexual marriages end in divorce and heartache and that some same sex relationships experience years of loyalty and commitment. That, however, begs the question exegetically. According to the biblical category, only one man and one woman can know this one flesh relationship. In the same way, it is hard to image how transgender individuals demonstrate the gospel.

When commending human sexual relationships, the Bible speaks in the context of marriage. Serial fornication without marriage does not demonstrate Christ’s commitment to the church. 

I realize that this kind of language labels me as “bigoted,” “phobic,” or whatever current disparagement is in vogue. Christians do not hate people, particularly they do not hate people who are in these kinds of relationships. Some have acted as though they hate, but true Christians do not hate.

The culture at large hates the gospel because it is exclusive and it demands holiness. Current expressions of “sexual freedom” are but covert attempts to deprive the gospel of one of its most powerful expressions.

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