Thursday, March 14, 2013

P1 Biblical Foundations for Marriage - Companionship

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Matthew 19:3-4 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Setting the context for the show down between the Pharisees and Jesus in Matthew 19 
In a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees, the Pharisees ask Jesus this question in Matthew 19:3:  “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”’  This was a loaded question, for the Pharisees were in continual debate among themselves as to whether people could divorce for any and every reason, or for only a handful of reasons (among which was adultery or marital unfaithfulness). 


The Pharisees debates about divorce, and the setting of a trap

 So what could had prompted the Pharisees and Jewish Leaders to engage Jesus in this line of questioning about divorce and marriage?  Bible teacher John MacArthur comments on this text, noting that John the Baptist was beheaded for denouncing of Herod Antipas' illigitimate marriage to his brother-in-law's wife. (Matthew 14)  With Jesus ministering in Herod's political backyard, the Jewish leaders saw an opportunity to trap Jesus and perhaps get him in trouble or worse.1 The Pharisees, when debating the issue of divorce, would appeal to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, where God through Moses permitted and regulated divorces in the nation of Israel.  In Deuteronomy 24:1 we read: “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,”.   The underlined phrase occupied the center of the debates about divorce among the Pharisees.2
 The Pharisees were expecting Jesus to follow the well-known debate of the day and respond from Deuteronomy 24:1-4. If Jesus said that divorce was allowable in all circumstances, the restrictive group of Pharisees (The Shammites) could accuse Jesus of being too liberal with the Bible.  On the other hand, if Jesus placed restrictions on divorce, the more liberal group of Pharisees (The Hillelites), could say that Jesus is in some way deny Moses teaching on divorce.  The trap was set, what would Jesus do?

Jesus sees the trap, and appeals to scripture

Jesus in His wisdom avoids the debate altogether and uses scripture for His response.  Matthew 19:4-6 records:
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said,  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and  the two shall become one flesh’ ? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

Jesus appeals to God's original design of marriage: Considering the four foundations of biblical marriage
Jesus disarmed the trap of the Pharisees by appealing to Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:18-25.3   As you study those two passages and the more than 80 passages in God's Word on the subject of marriage, you find four fundamental foundations of marriage ordained by God: Companionship, Communication and Covenant and Conversion.  Today's blog will deal with the first foundation: Companionship.

First foundation of Godly marriage:  Companionship – Genesis 2:18-20

            God said in Genesis 2:19 - "It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him.” .  Anytime we see God saying that something is not good in the first two chapters of Genesis, this indicates that God is not yet finished with that particular part of creation.  Genesis 2 is repeating and reminding us of various portions of the creation week in Genesis 1.  God is indicating that man needs a companion who will be his helper in his role as a king and shepherd over creation (Genesis 1:27-30).  In other words Adam needed Eve to help complete him, and Eve needed Adam to protect her. 
      In scripture we three fundamental types of companionship that come together perfectly and uniquely in marriage.  First of all the husband and wife share emotional companionship.  On the one hand, woman is described as a weaker vessel in need of love and nurturing by the husband. 1 Peter 3:7a states - "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel...".  However on the other hand, the wife is equal in value to the husband.  1 Peter 3:7b tells us - since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." 

      As emotional companions with one another, the scripture second notes how the husband and wife are physical companions of one another.  As Adam's equal and yet cherished companion, both Eve and he were to reflect the truth of who God is in and of Himself, namely an ongoing companionship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This idea of companionship still holds true today.  If anything, the only proper place for the intimacy and companionship among men and women is within the bonds of marriage.  Hebrews 13:4 asserts the purity and uniqueness of sexual intimacy within marriage -  "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."

      With the emotional and physical dimensions of marriages companionship unfolded, the scripture notices a third aspect of companionship in marriage - the spiritual.  People today often limit marriage to its physical or emotional dimensions.  Sexual intimacy is viewed merely as a physical act in our society.  It is cheapened and viewed one dimensionally.  Yet scripture reveals the fact that sexual intimacy between a husband and wife is as much of a spiritual act as a physical one.  The act of love is viewed only as an emotion.  However the love between a husband and a wife is as much spiritual as emotional.  Ephesians 5:25-26 "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." There we see how the emotional companionship is tied to the spiritual companionship between Christ and His church.  Furthermore Ephesians 5:28 "In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself."  There we see the physical companionship is shown to be as much spiritual as physical.   In tying all of this together, we will finish today with 1 Corinthians 11:3 "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
 More tomorrow.........
End Notes______________________

1. John MacArthur preached a six-part series on Jesus' teaching on marriage and divorce from Matthew 19.  In this particular message MacArthur noted: "They (The Pharisees) don't want an answer, they want to discredit jesus.  They want him to articulate His hard-line, God-never-intended-divorce view and so alientate Himself from the people.  They also know that he was in the territory of Herod Antipas who already beheaded John the Baptist for his views on divorce and they think maybe they can even have Jesus eliminated.  So, they're after him.  So in verse 3 is the attack."
2. One group of Pharisees, the Hillelites, believed that the phrase “indecent about her” meant that men could divorce women for any and every reason, including the burning of supper or bad physical appearance!  The second group of Pharisees, the Shammites, taught that the phrase “indecent” was limited to cases of adultery or marital infidelity on part of the spouse. 

3. The Pharisees had become so knowledgeable about divorce, that they lost sight of God’s original design for marriage. As much as we could spend time dealing with scriptures and the knotty issues that swirl about the issue of divorce, it is preferable for this blog series to take Jesus' approach and focus on God's original design for marriage. 

No comments:

Post a Comment