Reverend Joseph Bae
- What points stood out to you from the sermon? What questions did it raise?
- Read Gen 2:18-25. This is the account of God’s design and intent for marriage. What do you see God desiring to provide and give his good creation in this passage through marriage?
- What are some of the ways both single and married people make an idol (something we trust, give loyalty and desire more than God) of marriage?
- For the Christian, Scripture calls for ‘oneness’ – sex – to be expressed and experienced within the loving, exclusive and permanent covenant of marriage, a union of one man and one woman. For both single and married, how is this sexual ethic difficult to live out? In calling people to live this out through faith and obedience, what kind of people is God shaping and calling us to be? In other words, how is the Christian sexual ethic a good thing?
- Sex and marriage, though seen as private matters, are very public. Ethicist and theologian Stanley Hauerwas writes how the church is made up of both single and married people who are both symbols and witnesses that can powerfully point to God. Singleness points to the church’s confidence in God’s power to affect lives for the growth of the God’s kingdom; marriage and the children that may result is a sign of their hope in God’s abiding presence and care for this world. If this is the case, how could we live out our singleness and marriages in the church in ways that encourage confidence and hope in Christ? How can we help each other live this life?
RE question 5:
Ethicist and theologian Stanley Hauerwas writes,
“Of course, the individual texts are significant for helping us understand the early church’s sex ethic, but they must be understood in the broader context of the early Christians’ understanding of their mission. Ironically, in that respect singleness is a better indication than marriage of the church’s self-understanding. The early church’s legitimation of singleness as a form of life symbolized the necessity of the church to grow through witness and conversion. Singleness was legitimate, not because sex was thought to be a particularly questionable activity, but because the mission of the church was such that “between the times” the church required those who were capable of complete service to the Kingdom. And we must remember that the “sacrifice” made by the single is not that of “giving up sex,” but the much more significant sacrifice of giving up heirs. There can be no more radical act than this, as it is the clearest institutional expression that one’s future is not guaranteed by the family, but by the church.
But both singleness and marriage are necessary symbolic institutions for the constitution of the church’s life as the historic institution that witnesses to God’s Kingdom. Neither can be valid without the other. If singleness is a symbol of the church’s confidence in God’s power to affect lives for the growth of the church, marriage and procreation are the symbols of the church’s understanding that the struggle will be long and arduous. For Christians do not place their hope in their children, but rather their children are a sign of their hope, in spite of the considerable evidence to the contrary, that God has not abandoned this world.”
RE: question 5
Additionally, it’s important to remember how traditionally, marriage has been understood. From a Catholic perspective, it is a sacrament, a symbol of God’s love; from a protestant perspective marriage serves the common good in creating character and being the best environment in which children grow and thrive. Today, we’ve seen a huge shift from those understandings to marriage being about self-fulfillment (emotional and sexual) and self-actualization.
RE: question 2
I had in mind the following but I’m sure that you’ll think of more: the gift of partnership and wholeness; a sense of (re)union through relationship and sexual intimacy; the gift of being able to bring wholeness and completeness to the creation of God; the gift of this committed relationship which provides the framework to be loved and known as we are, without shame; before the Fall (sin), God provided good work, good desires for companionship and satisfied and provided for that desire.
A snapshot of how marriage is viewed in Scripture:
- God creates male and female in his image to be his agents in the world
- Male and female coming together for a covenantal bond with each other and bearing children.
- Marriage imagery in the prophets as description of our covenantal relationship with God.
- Follow through to the gospels:
- Jesus is asked about marriage - questioned on divorce and marriage (mark 10, matt 19)
- Jesus quotes from the genesis accounts — he speaks to God’s intention on this pair to be together for life.
- Paul: teaches the same thing. Eph 5 references the Genesis text; marriage as parable for Jesus’ love for his church, the bride.
- Revelation: again, marriage is used as the image of Jesus’ love for the church. This wedding supper for the lamb.
“Thus Scripture defines the marriage God instituted in terms of heterosexual monogamy. It is the union of one man with one woman, which must be publicly acknowledged (the leaving of parents), permanently sealed (he will "cleave to his wife"), and physically consummated ("one flesh"). Scripture envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God provided no alternative…The reason for the biblical prohibitions is the same reason why modern loving homosexual partnerships must also be condemned - namely that they are incompatible with God's created order. And since that order (heterosexual monogamy) was established by Creation, not culture, its validity is both permanent and universal. There can be no "liberation" from God's created norms; true liberation is found only in accepting them.”
(John Stott, Involvement).