Al Mohler on Marriage, Part 2

with Al Mohler | March 26, 2010

Marriage - it’s all just a personal matter, right? Not so fast, explains Dr. Al Mohler. In this stirring address, presented to an ecumenical audience in New York City last year, Dr. Mohler lays out common ground upon which all Christians must unite, if we are to accurately and compassionately transfer the culture-defining and civilizing truth about marriage to the next generation.

Marriage - it’s all just a personal matter, right? Not so fast, explains Dr. Al Mohler. In this stirring address, presented to an ecumenical audience in New York City last year, Dr. Mohler lays out common ground upon which all Christians must unite, if we are to accurately and compassionately transfer the culture-defining and civilizing truth about marriage to the next generation.

Al Mohler on Marriage, Part 2

With Al Mohler
|
March 26, 2010
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  Marriage is about something much bigger than just your happiness.

Al:  To be related to Christ is to be a part of Christ’s body, and that body is Christ’s bride.

 

Bob:  Dr. Al Mohler says, “God created marriage, not simply because it’s not good for man to be alone but because he wanted to reflect in marriage the glory of God.

Al:  Marriage is thus a central symbol, and explanatory principle of the gospel.  The gospel itself is at stake, and we need to understand that the gospel is communicated to us by means of words. Those words take the shape of metaphors and pictures and thus, when we distort that picture, when we take away the that to which indeed the church is compared and the work of God and our salvation points, we’ve done grave injury.  Not only to the institution of marriage, and not only have we created a homiletical challenge, we have made it more difficult for persons to see the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday March 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I'm Bob Lepine.  Those who would want to alter the definition of marriage in our society and our culture today need to recognize there is a lot more at stake than they may realize.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  As I was listening to Dr. Al Mohler here at the beginning of our program talk about marriage and its transcendent purpose, I was reflecting back to a time when I was getting ready to lead a home Bible study and we were going to talk about marriage.  This was two decades ago.  I was doing some studying and getting questions ready.  And, all of a sudden, in the middle of my preparation, it kind of dawned on me, “Huh!  Marriage is a bigger deal than I guess I really realized!” 

Now, I’d been married for a decade at that point, we had kids.  I was committed, and I thought marriage and family are important.  But the more I looked at the scriptures I thought, “This is pretty big stuff here.  This is not something that God is casually interested in.  This is pretty primary.”

Dennis:  Yes, God wasn’t off on a celestial picnic and came back and said “Oh!  Look at what happened!  Man and woman got created and they’re together!”  No, there’s a reason why the Bible begins with a marriage and it ends with a marriage.  Marriage is central to what God’s doing on planet earth.  I think it is no mistake today that we are seeing the biggest assault in the history of our nation and certainly upon the believing community here in America that has ever occurred upon the definition of marriage.

Bob:  Yes.  We’ve already heard this week Dr. Al Mohler, address this subject in part one of a message that he presented to a group of leaders from around the country—actually from around the world—who gathered in New York back last fall.  You were a part of that group right?

Dennis:  That’s right.  We gathered together to talk about what needed to be done.  We were there having been invited, a number of us by Chuck Colson.  The net effect, Bob was we came out of it with an agreement that there needed to be a statement of what our beliefs were about marriage, about human life, and about religious rights that the Christian community needed to step up and make a statement about.  What was created as a result of the meeting was the “Manhattan Declaration.”  It’s now been signed by several hundred thousand people, Barbara and I have signed it.

While we were together, our time concluded with a message by Dr. Al Mohler.  As you’ve mentioned, Al is a guest here on FamilyLife Today, he is President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.  After hearing that message I thought our listeners need to hear that for two reasons.  Number one, they need to be aware of what’s at stake around the definition of marriage.  This is, as you said Bob, it’s not a casual issue.

But secondly, single people, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents; everybody needs to understand you’ve got to come to grips of what the Bible teaches about marriage and how a marriage works.  That He created them male and female, and God didn’t stutter at that point.  It was very, very clear.  We shouldn’t be stuttering either.  We need to be standing firm on what the Bible teaches.

Bob:  This is one of those messages that you could miss your exit, because you’d be paying attention to what Dr. Mohler is saying, and I don’t want anybody to miss their exit.  But I do want you to pay attention as we hear part two of Dr. Al Mohler’s message on the importance, the transcendence of marriage.

 

Al:  Let us be agreed that marriage points to eternal realities.  Marriage is not only of significance for this life, but also for the life to come.  Even as it was given to all humanity in creation and is known by common grace, even as it was given to us as a gift before the fall as a part of creation given to all humanity, it points beyond itself.  It points indeed to the economy of salvation.  It points to the relationship between Christ and his church.  To be related to Christ is to be a part of Christ’s body and that body is Christ’s bride.

The bride is not merely, when we look back to the biblical text, a culturally available artifact or metaphor.  I read that just recently, a liberal biblical scholar said that, “The reason why they picked up that language is because marriage is such a convenient cultural artifact to pull up as a metaphor.  That’s all it is.”  I think not.  The very God who gave us marriage is the God who redeems sinners through the blood of the Christ. 

Marriage is thus a central symbol and explanatory principle of the gospel.  The gospel itself is at stake and we need to understand that the gospel is communicated to us by means of words and those words take the shape of metaphors and pictures and thus when we distort that picture, when we take away the that to which indeed the church is compared and the work of God in our salvation points, we’ve done grave injury.  Not only to the institution of marriage and not only have we created a homiletical challenge, we have made it more difficult for persons to see the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

That gospel, the gospel that reminds us that every single human being is a sinner, a sinner desperately in need of salvation, that gospel that reminds us there is no rescue but Christ, and no rescue but faith in Him.  That gospel that reminds us there is only one Savior.  It reminds us that the mono in monotheism points to the fact that this is a God who says, I am one, and I have acted in this way for your salvation.  And there is one Lord and one Savior, and there is one gospel. 

We need to understand that marriage always points beyond itself, it points to the character of God.  God displays his character, he displays his glory in marriage, in this picture we come to understand more about the gospel, we come to understand what it means for God to be a covenant making God, a God who makes and keeps covenant.  And, has given us the covenant of marriage, a little picture, a little domestic picture of what it means for us to be united with Him through Christ. 

The issue of the gospel meaning of marriage is also a reminder to us that what God intends for us is better than what we intend for ourselves.  One of the greatest challenges we have in this generation is to say, “We do not want you to have less joy.  We want you to have more joy.  We do not want you to have less; we want you to have infinitely more.”  Against the expressive individualism, and the sense of autonomy and self-definition of this age, we have to be a people who say, “Look we weren’t smart enough to get this right either.  We’re not smarter than you.  This is a given.”

In Ecclesiastes chapter three, verse eleven and following, among other things, the writer of Ecclesiastes says, speaking of God, “He has put eternity in their hearts.”  There’s a crying out to us that as wonderful and fulfilling as normative and important as marriage is, it’s pointing to something else.  And that is something else of eternal consequence.

Last let us be agreed that this is a battle that calls us, and a cause that demands us.  We did not ask for this.  But we’re now called to defend marriage from subversion and redefinition.  This is not just a spiritual battle but it is, at essence a spiritual battle.  As Paul was informing the church in Ephesians chapter six, our battle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, authority, cosmic powers, this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

I read those three words, “This present darkness;” we’re summoned to this darkness to defend against it, to bring light to it.  This is a battle that is deeply spiritual and if we believe what the bible says, it is satanic in its origins.  It is the apostle Paul who, in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that we’re fighting against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  This is an ecclesiastical battle, this is a church battle.  In every one of our churches, in every one of our denominations, in every one of our congregations in one way or another, this battle is going to come home.

We should be in the battle already.  We should not wait for some issue local or for some problem, pastoral.  For some challenge personal all of a sudden to bring us into this battle.  We should be there; we have already been called to this battle.  If we are not there, we are not faithful.  It is an ecclesiastical battle.  It’s going to be fought out there are going to be churches that will be lost and if they are lost on marriage, I am bold to say, they are lost to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are churches, denominations, theological seminaries, universities, para-church organizations, some will stand, and some will fall.  But all will eventually be in this battle.  It is a legal and it is a political battle.  We are called to this.  Love of God and love of neighbor means that we are animated in faithfulness to Christ, to care about the structure of laws, to care about the structure of civilization to care about the structures of the culture.  Not because we believe the culture can save, or the civilization can save, or the law can save, but we do believe that all are accountable to the lordship of Jesus Christ.  All are accountable to what is embedded in the law that is given to us in creation and in nature.

There is no choice but to be in this battle.  This battle over marriage is, it is unmistakably and inevitably a battle for religious liberty.  Because there will be a price to be paid, and we are already seeing the voice of the Church as the very voice of central attack, by those that would silence the strongest argument and the clearest witness and the most accountable voice to the unique status of marriage.

The power of light in darkness, well that’s our hope.  We are now witnessing this present darkness. And our task is not merely to cry against the darkness, but rather to take light to it.  That is our responsibility to tell the truth; to speak the truth in love; but to tell the truth when it is convenient when it is inconvenient, when it’s in season, when it’s out of season. 

This is a battle that calls us.  It is a call to arms that we must answer.  It’s not just about those marriages, it’s not just about the institution of marriage, it’s about our marriages, it’s about our churches, it’s about our denominations, and it’s about our witness.  Brothers and sisters, where there is only one husband and wife living together in faithfulness, the glory of God shines round about them.

Where there is only one family in the midst of an ocean of moral rebellion and moral confusion, where there’s only one family that is rightly ordered by, indeed the word of God, the gospel of Christ, and the institution of marriage and the right ordering of the family, the glory of God is evident.  The light will shine through.  I am absolutely confident of that.  I’ve read the book.  But there could be a lot of darkness on the way.

I am absolutely confident of the victory of Christ.  I am absolutely confident of the vindication of marriage.  I am absolutely confident that we’re going to understand what it is by God’s grace, by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by the shed blood of our Lord to be the marriage supper of the Lamb.  When we’re there we’re not going to have to ask “what is this?”  Everything we have known about marriage, indeed everything we have known about the gospel will draw us to that moment and we will glory in the one true and living God, and in Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is a battle to which we have been called.  There is a cause that demands us.  One of my favorite biographies that I’m sure it’s shared by many of you is the two-volume biography of Winston Churchill by William Manchester.  How we wish there had been that third volume.  But, let’s be thankful for the two we have.  In the end of the early chapters in the first volume, you’ll remember as Manchester is looking forward to the historical role of Churchill, he first deals with the challenge that any leader of England will face.  He deals with Hitler.  And he deals with the reality of the looming threat of the Third Reich, and of the fact that at the very moment that Churchill will be propelled into leadership, England is at its weakest and not at its strongest moment. 

It appears ready to collapse and William Manchester said if anyone is going to be able to rally England at this moment, it’s got to be someone who is ruthless for the good.  And who is valiant when people think he’s manic or maniacal in defense of England, and freedom and liberty.  He goes through a long list; it’s one of the most lyrical passages you’ll find in any biographical literature, for the sake of time I will not read it.  But he says “If England is to survive, indeed if civilization is to survive, there must be a man who would rise to face Hitler with a ferocity for freedom greater than his ferocity for evil.”  In one single sentence at the bottom of that page, “In London, there was such a man.”

One of my favorite things of Churchill’s leadership is how continuously he told England the truth.  As Manchester said, he threw the truth to England like chunks of red meat to dogs that were hungry.  As he threw the truth to England, he led.  Bit by bit, battle by battle, setback by setback, and then advance by advance.  One of my favorite themes of Churchill’s leadership is this.  He said, “No other generation had the opportunity to fight a foe quite like this.  This is not a burden on us this is a privilege if we understand it.  It is our battle, not just ours to win, or ours to lose, but ours to take, surrender is not an option.”

Brothers and sisters, this battle is of equal importance.  It is of greater importance in terms of eternity.  I’ll tell you why I’m glad to be here with you.  As Manchester said, “In London there was such a man,” I’m thankful that today, in New York, there are many—I detect—that are ready.  The battle is the Lord’s.  God bless you.

Bob:  We’ve been listening to part two of a message from Dr. Al Mohler on the issue of our day; the issue of the definition of marriage.  I think the phrase that struck me as I listened to his message was the need to be “ruthless for good.”  That’s just a good phrase.  We need to be, as followers of Christ, people who are ruthless for good.

Dennis:  We need to be known by what we’re for, not by what we’re against.  If the Christian community doesn’t stand up on behalf of marriage, and become its standard bearer, then who will?  Who’s going to stand up and protect it?  I promise you that on the university campus, they’re not going to defend marriage. 

Bob, back in 1992, we drafted a document that was actually created by more than 25 theologians, educators, scholars, men and women from all of the United States, and became the Family Manifesto.  In that Manifesto there are a number of issues addressed.  One of them is marriage.  In 1992, here’s what we wrote about marriage. 

“We believe God, not man created marriage.  We believe marriage was the first institution designed by God.  We believe the Bible teaches that the covenant of marriage is sacred and life-long.  The Bible makes it clear that marriage is a legally binding, public declaration of commitment, and a private consummation between one man and one woman, never between the same sex.  We believe God created marriage for the purpose of couples glorifying God as one flesh, parenting godly children, and enjoying sexual pleasure.”

We go on there to make several other statements about marriage.  Really in its defense, that was nearly twenty years ago.  Now today, the unthinkable is being foisted upon us as a culture and the Christian community, I believe, at its grassroots level where moms and dads are raising children, and single people are selecting a spouse and getting married, and grandparents are telling stories to their grandkids, all of us need to lock arms together and say, “We will be a standard bearer for marriage, because marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his bride, the church.  There are bigger issues taking place in marriage than just individuals getting their needs met.

Bob:  You mentioned the Family Manifesto, our listener can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com and there’s a link there that will take them to the area of the site where the Family Manifesto is available online.  You can get a printed copy from us as well if you’d like.  Again the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.  There’s also a link as you mentioned to the page that has information about the Manhattan Declaration if listeners want to find out more about that.  Again, it’s FamilyLifeToday.com.

Let me also mention that Dr. Mohler is going to be speaking next month at the Christian Alliance for Orphans event taking place in Minneapolis.  That’s April 29th and 30th, it’s Summit number Six.  Along with Dr. Mohler, John Piper is going to be speaking there, Mary Beth Chapman, Steven Curtis Chapman is going to be providing music as well. 

You can find out more when you got to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the link for the Christian Alliance for Orphans website.  It’ll give you all you need to know about Summit Six, and if you’re involved at all in orphan care in your local church, if you have any kind of an adoption ministry and you want to network with others from all around the world who are helping to care for the needs of orphans.  Go to Summit Six, and you can get the information online at FamilyLifeToday.com.

By the way, while you’re on our website, if you can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we would appreciate it; your donations are what enable us to continue this program on this station and on other stations all across the country.  In recent days, we have had to pull back in some places where FamilyLife Today was being heard because there was a decline in funding for the program, and we were simply not able to continue airing the program on those particular radio stations.  That’s always a hard decision for us to make. 

And it’s one we don’t make lightly.  But we want to be good stewards of the resources God entrusts to us.

So thanks to those of you who have made this program possible in the past.  If you can help today with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say thank you by sending you a copy of a brand new movie.  It’s called Magdalena, it tells the story of the life of Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.  It’s available on DVD, and it’s available with an audio track in Spanish, in French, in Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese along with the standard English audio track.

You can request that movie when you make a donation of any amount this month to support ministry of FamilyLife Today.  If you make your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, just type “MAGDVD” into the key code box on the online donation form—all one word—“MAGDVD.”  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  Make a donation by phone and ask for the Magdalena DVD.  Again we’re happy to send it out to you, and we so much appreciate your financial support of this ministry. 

With that we’ve got to wrap things up for today.  I hope you have a great weekend, hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend in church.  I hope you can be back on Monday when Gary Thomas is going to join us to talk about how a wife can have a “sacred influence” on her husband.

Gary Thomas:  Women would come up after going through Sacred Marriage or listen to me talk about it saying, “Gary I get that God is using my marriage to help me become a better person and to shape me.  But, do I really have to just sit back while my husband’s anger destroys our children, or while my husband’s addictions make it so impossible to be intimate with him, or he’s so involved with golf or work that he’s never at home.  How do I help him become the person that I think God wants him to be?”

Bob:  I hope you can be here for that.  I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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