Earthbound Marriage
John Chrysostom, Pastor
27 January 2017
People with great marriages will say that their "marriage was made in heaven." While we understand that they are talking about the delight and joy they have experienced in a marriage that God has made, this statement is just wrong. Marriage was not made in heaven, but on earth. God's gracious and intimate creating of man and woman and his joining them into the one flesh union was of the earth.
 
Adam and Eve are made of the dust of the earth. Marriage is not a thing of airy-fairy spirituality, but an earth-bound gift from the God who comes into the world, which He made, to join man and woman in holy marriage. God, who placed marriage into the context of the "real" world in which Adam and Eve were to be fruitful and multiply, wants us to see that marriage is a gift of mutual love and sacrificial support "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health." This is the stuff real life on earth is made of; to be for another. Yes, marriage is a messy business. It is fraught with difficulties, sick children, worry about money, dirty diapers, and frightful disagreements. But marriage enables us to get out of ourselves and seek meaning in the other.
 
I grieve for the young people in the world who categorically refuse to consider marrying because they think they will lose their much-coveted autonomy. But in their love of autonomy they will lose themselves and even, God forbid, their own souls! Marriage isn't for everyone, but everyone ought to be for marriage. There is no way to be in true relationship with another apart from the sacrifice of self. And the more we give of ourselves the more we will have of ourselves. The more we hold back of ourselves the less we will have. What a hideous poverty resides in the heart of those who will not give themselves for the other.
 
Here we find just a hint of what it means to be truly human in the world created by the God who molds man out of the dust of the earth. We are to find our ultimate meaning not in ourselves, but in the other. The relationship of man and woman points to the relationship of the Bridegroom, Christ, with His bride, the church. Man and woman were not created to be alone, but to be in union with one another and with their God. 

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'" (Gn 2:23).
 
"Eve is brought to Adam by God Himself. Therefore just as God's will is ready to establish marriage, so Adam is ready to receive Eve with the greatest pleasure and innocency. Thus even now the bridegroom has a surpassing affection for the bride, yet it is contaminated by that leprous lust of the flesh which was not present in righteous Adam.
 
"But it is most worthy of amazement that when Adam looks at Eve as a building made from himself, he immediately recognizes her and says: 'This now is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh.' These are words, not of a stupid or a sinful human being who has no insight into the works and creatures of God, but of a righteous and wise being, one filled with the Holy Spirit. He reveals a wisdom to this point unknown to the world; that the effecting cause of the wife and of marriage is God, but that the final cause is for the wife to be an earthly dwelling place for her husband. This knowledge is not simply the product of intelligence and reason. It is a revelation of the Holy Spirit.
 
"The word 'at last,' is not superfluous, although it appears to be. It expresses most beautifully the affection of a husband who feels his need for a delightful and full relationship or cohabitation in both love and holiness. It is as if he were saying: 'I have seen all the animals. I have carefully considered the females which were provided for the increase and the preservation of their kind, but they are of no concern to me. But this at last is flesh of my flesh and bones of my bones. I desire to live with her and to accede to God's will by procreating descendants.' This little word indicates an overwhelmingly passionate love. Today that purity and innocence is lost. There still remains the bridegroom's delight and his love for the bride, but because of sin it is impure and imperfect. Adam's love was most pure and holy and also pleasing to God. Impelled by this love, he says: 'This now is bone from my bones, not from wood, not from stone, not from a clod of the earth. It concerns me more closely, for it is made from my bones and my flesh.'"

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 2.23
Genesis 2:18-25

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)
Prayer
Gracious God, we give thanks for the joy and blessings that You grant to husbands and wives. Assist them always by Your grace that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep their marriage vows, grow in love toward You and for each other, and come at last to the eternal joys that You have promised; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For the family of Ginny Deluca, whom our Lord took to Himself, that they would mourn as those who have hope in the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come
 
For David Hawk, who has undergone heart surgery, that the Lord would grant him strength and complete healing
 
For all those who are preparing for holy marriage, that they might find new opportunities to learn of love
 
For all those who are lost and who do not know Christ as a gracious God, that the church and her children would proclaim the Christ to them
 
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and wisdom
Art: Russian Icon of John Chrysostom, Bishop
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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