Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wayfinding in Marriage, Part One

Not long ago there was a murder in my neighborhood. According to the news, the murder involved a marriage, a lover and an online swinger’s club.  A number of emotions went through my heart as I reflected on the story.  My neighbor who knew the man murdered, told about a broken family with teen children and an ex-wife and a father who had already lost one son to illness and another now to this murder.  If this was just about sex we could toss out a bunch of moral platitudes and sort of dismiss this as just another example of why we all need to follow the Ten Commandments and the sexual morals in the Bible. 

But, the story I just shared is about real people born of the brokenness originating in the fall of humankind described in Genesis 3.  These were people who grew up having been shaped by a broken human system and they experienced marriage and relationships marked by deep pain, struggle and rejection.  They perhaps never in a minute intended for their lives to turn out as they did.  

We could psychoanalyze the situation but that is not my intent.  I want to set forth a kingdom vision for our most important relationships.  This vision is God inspired and life-giving and satisfying.  It is a vision meant for our good.  
     
I need to say a few things first.

Each one of us, whether married, moving towards marriage or in dating relationships have in some way missed the mark.  Therefore, there is no room for condemnation toward others.  One could say, “I have been married for 25 years” but we could ask… what kind of marriage is it?  While the marriage could be sexually faithful, it might still be very short of the mark intended in terms of depth, respect and intimacy.

Many of us have experienced the brokenness of relationships, our own or our parents.  We are each on a journey toward wholeness and we each have broken places and broken relationships in our own lives.  We can change ourselves and choose to become more whole, but we cannot make another person become whole with us.  Divorce, rejection and the destruction of relationships are a real experience in this life.  We are a human people deeply affected by a world that is influenced by sin and suffering.
  
So what is this vision for relationships?  Let’s look together in Genesis one and notice the aspects of this vision.  

First aspect of this vision: our relationships are grounded in a Holy God who is himself LOVE.  

Genesis 1

 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” 
 27 So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

Note the plural pronouns: us and our, “let us make human beings in our image”.  Many scholars see in this, the very first mention of the Trinity.  (The Pentateuch as Narrative, John H Sailhamer, page 95).

The Trinity is historically defined as, one God, one essence, three distinct persons.  This is the first and most authentic and holy community.  We have been created by God and are invited through our relation with Christ to be part of this holy community. 

This has significant meaning for the people of God.  Relationship with God, union with God implies an affect on our human relationships.  The Apostle Paul uses this insight to respond to a whole variety of ethics in the New Testament.  
  1. Because you are united with Christ, do not unite yourselves with prostitutes or be unequally yoked. (1Cor. 6:15)
  2. Because you are united with Christ, love others and welcome the jew, gentile (Eph. 2)
  3. Because you are united with Christ, you are all sons, inheritors, jew, gentile, slave, free, men, women.  (Gal. 3)
  4. Because you are united with Christ, love like Christ.  (husbands love like Christ loved the church) (Eph. 5)
This union we have in Christ has significant implications for our marriages, relationships and families.  Our relationships are grounded in a holy God who is himself LOVE. 
  
The apostle John says this: "dear friends let us continue to love one another for love comes from God.  Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who loves not does not know God, for God is love."  (1 john 4:7-8)  

Human relationships, marriage in particular are grounded in the love God has for us.  And our call is to image God and become loving toward one another.  

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