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Permanent Union

Gavin Peacock

I recently officiated the marriage ceremony of my son, Jake, and his bride, Christa. In one part of the  sermon I emphasised the permanent nature of the union. Here's an excerpt...

Marriage is God's design and God's doing

In marriage God is joining one man and one woman together for life, because marriage is God’s design and God's doing just like all of creation is God’s design and God’s doing.

We know this because Genesis tells us that God created the universe and everything in it including Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:1, 27). He made them in his image, not as a product of chemical explosions of evolution, but in his divine likeness with an ability to reason and reflect his character morally and functionally.

But God didn’t create them at the same time. He made Adam first and then said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). He then put him into a sleep and fashioned the woman from one of his ribs and it says God, “brought her to the man” (Gen. 2: 22). Here we have God, the first Father of the bride, giving her to her husband and joining them together.(That’s why, traditionally, the bride's father gives her away. It was that way at the first wedding in the beginning).

The we read the declaration:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).

So marriage is God’s design and God’s doing which means that…

Marriage is one man and one woman for life

Jesus himself refers to this text as his cornerstone, his foundation verse for marriage. In Matthew 19, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female.’" (Matt. 19:4). He is quoting Genesis 1:27.

The point is God created man and made only two sexes.

He continues, "‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:5-6).

When a couple make their vows, it is not the man or woman, or parent or pastor who is the main actor. God is. God is doing the joining of a husband and wife (to paraphrase John Piper). That’s why Jesus says, what God has joined together let no man separate – permanence.

God ordained marriage at the creation of the world before sin entered. And it was between one man and one woman: not two men or two women, or one man with many women, or one woman with many men. It was between two people created by God with absolutely equal value and dignity any yet very different. A man and a woman were made to fit together physically in a one flesh union. However, that is pointing to something higher - a permanent spiritual union between two people, and ultimately a relational union with God.

So when a couple vows they make a promise or a covenant with each other and before God to stay together. This is a covenant not a contract (in which you have caveats to escape). This is a God ordained covenant of companionship. It is a solemn final act. That’s why on the marriage license it is called the solemnization of marriage. That’s why the pastor asks if anyone knows any cause why a couple shouldn’t be married. He asks the couple the same. Why? Because this is a weighty thing, which has holy significance.

Marriage is about making vows. Many couples nowadays often want to write their own vows. But often they are based on feelings not promises – emotions, not acts of the will. Nowhere in the Bible do we see feelings as the basis for marriage. When the feeling is fading or gone and the body submits to the effects of gravity and the health gives way, what will the marriage stand upon, feelings or promises? When a marriage is grounded in committed friendship, companionship and a permanent covenant the chances of survival are good. Promises, vows, provide the foundation and protection for the marriage when the storms hit. The joining of a man and a woman in holy matrimony is not a tenuous arrangement that can be changed or forsaken.

Marriage is God’s design and God’s doing so that makes it a permanent union in this life. "Till death us do part".