The Meaning of Marriage (Web-exclusive story)

by Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt

A recent study by the National Center of Health Statistics shows that the number of unmarried, cohabiting couples having children has quadrupled since the 1970s. Should this surprise the Christian? Absolutely not. Why? Sin.

Sin destroys everything and everyone that it touches, including marriage and the family. However, our Lord loves both dearly, so He makes them holy through repentance and forgiveness.

As Lutherans, we take the words of the Lord seriously. We take Him at His Word. We believe that the Scriptures don’t merely contain the Word of God; they are the Word of God. So when trying to determine if living together outside of marriage is acceptable, we look to what our Lord says to us.

When marrying our first parents together in Genesis 2, God the Father said to them, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” That means marriage. Through the act of marriage, God makes two people into one flesh. He provides them with the means to support one another through all things until death parts them. The Lord also gives man and woman the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Marriage begins the family, and sex and children follow.

Later, in Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), our Lord gives us a more detailed explanation of the scope of marriage. He says in the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther explained this to mean, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husbands and wives love and honor each other.”

What does “sexually pure and decent” really mean? It is sex between a husband and a wife and no one else. That means that we are deliberate in how we speak to each other and how we act with one other. Don’t act like a husband if you’re not a husband, and don’t act like a wife if you’re not wife. Instead, get married and actually be husband and wife, loving and honoring one another.

When asked about marriage and divorce, our Lord, Jesus Christ, said, “What God has joined together let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). When He puts things together, they are to stay that way. Conversely, when they haven’t been put together, they stay that way until they are put together by the Lord. When our Lord blesses something, He then also provides strength, support and forgiveness for it. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in and on us, making our marriages holy.

So what are we as Christians to do in a culture that rejects God’s gift of marriage, sex within its bounds and children? Repent. Turn from your sin. Receive Jesus’ forgiveness. And do not forget to pray. Pray for all marriages and all families, that the Lord who makes two into one flesh would richly bless them with His love, joy and mercy.

The state of marriage is under a full assault from the devil. He will use whatever means necessary to destroy what God has created. Pray also for all God’s children. Pray that love may abound in all homes. Pray that forgiveness may be the first word spoken between husbands and wives, parents and children. Pray that you and all people receive an increase of the Holy Spirit, for it is only through Him that we may repent of our sinful lives, amend our ways and live joyfully in the comfort of God’s grace.

About the Author: The Rev. Matthew Wietfeldt is associate pastor and principal of Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Nashville, Ill.

April 2012

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