Monday, January 21, 2008

Second Sunday after Epiphany: Exodus XX.14: Dt. 22:13-30

Opening Prayer: Gracious Father, you promise to give wisdom to those who ask, and therefore we ask for wisdom now. We are gathered here to submit to your word, and to conform our lives to your instructions. Give us not only hearts that are ready to obey, but eyes to see and understand what so many do not understand in our day. Through Christ.

We considered last week the idea of loyalty and fidelity particularly through the idea of belonging and possession. This wisdom of God is quite different from the wisdom of the world. This is quite different from the counsel that says: ‘do what works for you,’ ‘do what feels good,’ or ‘as long as you’re happy.’

Basic Principles
Moses establishes a number of foundational principles of marriage in this passage. First, it is a man who takes a wife, and a father who normally gives his daughter in marriage (Dt. 22:13-16). This is based on the pattern of creation where the man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife (Gen. 2:24). Normally, sons leave; daughters are given. This also means that the father is held responsible for the sexual purity of his daughter (Dt. 22:15-16, 21). This difference between men and women is often scorned and ridiculed as outdated, but as Christians committed to the Bible we must not apologize for any of it. Third, purity before marriage is the norm, and honesty is absolutely essential (Dt. 22:14-19). Fourth, infidelity in marriage is considered a most grievous crime and may result in the death penalty (Dt. 22:21-22, 24-25). This is at least in part due to the symbolism involved. It is also bound up with the theme of ownership and possession found in the gospel. Finally, because a woman represents her father or her husband proper boundaries must be respected. Seducing or raping a daughter, wife, or betrothed woman is a sexual assault not only on the woman involved but also the father (22:19, 29). This seems to be the reason for the conclusion of the chapter prohibiting marrying one’s mother, which is uncovering a father’s nakedness (22:30).

The Logic of Infidelity
Romans 1 is an important chapter explaining the logic of sin. Paul says that the root of all kinds of sin is the refusal to glorify God and be thankful (Rom 1:21). This ingratitude reveals itself in a culture of homosexuality. Paul begins with homosexuality and ends with those who are unmerciful, but the order is striking. He does not seem to be saying that being unmerciful might lead to homosexuality, rather, he is saying that homosexuality is already a foundational element in the entire list of sins. Homosexual literally means “same sex.” Homosexuality is not merely a particular sexual act; it is a lifestyle of self love. Gratitude receives life as a gift, believes that the Giver is faithful, and begins giving self away. The homosexual mindset doesn’t trust the Giver, doesn’t give thanks, and clings to self for fear of losing it. Jesus says that this is the sure way to lose your life: homosexuality is suicidal. But giving self away, losing your life for others is the way to save your life, to find your life (Mt. 16:25). The love of another requires the giving up of self, loyalty to the other. Thus, a breach of this loyalty is ultimately a refusal to give one’s self away. It is an act of love for one’s self.

Conclusions & Applications

We need selfless Dads. As we work at building a biblical Christian culture, it takes time, energy, and effort to lead families. Recognize your responsibilities and do not shirk them. Don’t be frustrated if there are not immediate results. Remember that God blesses faithfulness over the long haul.

We need selfless sons. Young men, you must not only cultivate purity, you must be preparing for marriage. This means that you must not be lazy. Learn to work hard now, and in particular, to obey your mother cheerfully. Prepare yourself to show honor and respect to the father of a young woman you are interested in.

We need selfless daughters. Young ladies, do not be consumed with silly things, but use your time and gifts wisely now. Pursue education: you will one day be mothers who will play important roles in the lives of your children. Remember to serve others in your dress. Trust your father’s wisdom and counsel, and do not settle for young men who do not respect your father.

Finally, if ingratitude is the basis for homosexual culture, then gratitude must be the basis for God-glorifying culture. Giving thanks means rejoicing in the wife of your youth. Giving thanks means recognizing that God does not meet us where we should have been. He meets us where we are, and his grace is sufficient.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!

Closing Prayer: Gracious Father, we thank you for your faithfulness to us. We thank you that you are giving God, that you gave us your Son and gave us your Spirit, and that you have bestowed abundant kindnesses upon us. Teach us to be a grateful people. Teach us to rejoice in the food you put on our table, our families, our cars, our clothing, our spouses, our callings, and use this gratitude and joy to overwhelm the boring culture around us.

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