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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:God unites husband and wife
Text:Matthew 19:6 (View)
Occasion:Wedding
Topic:Marriage
 
Added:2013-03-05
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


God unites husband and wife

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 19: 1 – 12

Wedding Text:          “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.   Therefore, what

God has joined together, let not man separate” - Mt. 19: 6

 

 

B… and L…, family and friends, brothers and sisters,

 

It is an exciting time in your life when you meet a girlfriend, or boyfriend, but during the time of your courtship your relationship misses two things.   You cannot be completely together yet.   That is one thing.   The other thing is the tension of uncertainty.    Should I ask her to marry me?   Will she indeed proceed with the relation?   Or the girl may have similar questions.   There is no marriage bond that binds you together yet.   The relationship is not yet fixed and permanent.  

It is only when you marry that you enter the state of complete union and fulfilment, stability, and all the wonderful blessings that God has enjoined to this holy state.

 

Yes, marriage is much better than dating.

When you marry you enter an unbreakable bond; and what a comfort and fulfilment that gives!

 

When the wedding ceremony and reception and all the business of this day is over – and you have time to think again – then the realization may suddenly strike you: We are now together for life!  

And what a wonderful comfort and assurance that gives!   For as long as you both shall live you will never be alone again.  

 

For those who knew loneliness before marriage, this comfort is all the greater.

God did not create man to be alone.   It is not good for man to be alone. 

 

God created man to live in a covenant union with his wife; He created man to live in a marriage covenant, in which God makes husband and wife one.  

 

It is a wonder which we can hardly express in words.

It is beautiful.   It is good.   It gives fulfilment.   It is a blessing for which you will not stop thanking the Lord.

But, someone may ask, is it still realistic to speak about marriage in this way, while we see so many broken marriages in the world around us and perceive the pain, disappointment, and sorrow of so many unhappy marriages?  

May we still speak of the unbreakable bond of marriage?

 

B…, on which grounds will you make your vow, here before the Lord and before many witnesses, that you will love L… and will never forsake her for as long as you both shall live?  

On which grounds will you make an oath before the Lord and all witnesses present, that you will always be true to her – even in the storms of life when one of you may be tested by a lasting illness, depressing poverty, or any other distress?   If you don’t know the future and don’t know how things will turn out to be – how then can you make this oath?

Can you vow such a thing; and on which grounds?

 

B… and L… you are blessed above millions of others.   You have a foundation which others do not have, for you came here to be united by the Lord and to start your marriage in His Name.   That is the reason why you are able to promise that you will also complete your marriage to His glory.

It is He who joins you together; and it is by His grace that you will also remain together.  

He will redeem and sanctify your marriage, as you put your trust in Him and listen to His word. 

Your promise and vow rests on His promise and vow.   He has vowed to be Your God and to redeem your life (also your married life) from sin and corruption.  

 

It is then the highest privilege and blessing that you may start this day in His name with the proclamation of His Word, that your trust may be in the Lord, and that His Word may guide and sanctify and restore your whole life, also your married life, to the glory of His Name.

 

I will now proclaim His word to you from the text, Mt. 19: 6; and our theme will be:

God unites husband and wife with an unbreakable bond

 

We will note…

1.      That it is God who unites you

2.      That you will become one

3.      That this unity may not be broken

 

In the first place we note that…

It is God who unites you

 

The Pharisees asked Jesus whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason.  

In His answer our Lord Jesus refers first of all to the creation of man:

 

 “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’…” (19: 4)

 

It is a reference to Gen. 1: 27.   There we read:

 

“…God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

 

It is an interesting passage where God speaks of man first in the singular and then in the plural.   Man was created one, and from one man God made two: male and female.   And then He joined them together in marriage to be one again.  

 

Before man became two, before man was made male and female, man was only one - one by creation.    Then God took a part of man and made it into a woman.   And so man became two: male and female.  

Then God joined the two parts of man together in marriage, so that the two became one again.  

 

This is not simply an interesting thought.   No, it determines the very nature of man and of the marriage institution.

The unity of the marriage covenant is not an afterthought that came after creation.   No, God created one man; male and female He created them.   

That is: one man, made into two (male and female) to be joined together as one again.  

 

The marriage covenant is part of man’s design by creation.   To say it in simple words: man was created in such a way that the joining together of male and female in marriage makes him complete.  

 

Because this design of man is rooted in creation, therefore it remains a perpetual rule for all generations that it is not good for man to be alone.   Man was not created to be without his other half.  

 

In His answer to the Pharisees the Lord Jesus, first of all, refers to the creation of man in the beginning.    And in the second place He refers to the marriage institution as described in Genesis chapter 2:

 

“…the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.   And Adam said: ‘This is now bones 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 mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2: 22 – 24).

 

How did He join them together?    First of all, by taking her from the bones and the flesh of man, so that she was part of him.  

But, of course, not every man and every woman becomes one.   This intimate union and oneness applies only to husband and wife.   And therefore, after Adam expressed his joy that God has given him a wife who has been taken from his own bones and flesh, God added a perpetual rule for all generations to come, when He said:

 

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” – Gen. 2: 24.

 

Note that He says a man shall be joined to his wife – one man joined to one wife – and they shall become one flesh.

 

That they become one flesh does not refer to a sexual deed; not in the first place, anyway.   No, that the man and his wife become one flesh, refers to the fact that the woman was taken from man, from his bones and his flesh, so that in marriage a man receives a part of himself that was missing.   He receives his other half back, so to speak.  

And so, jestingly, a man may speak of his wife as his “other half” (or sometimes: his better half!)

 

Together husband and wife form a complete unity.   They become one.   

The apostle Paul refers to this unity of husband and wife as a profound mystery – Eph. 5: 32.

It is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church.   As Christ is the Head of the Church, so a husband is head of his wife; and as husband and wife becomes one, so Christ we are also joined to Christ to be one with Him.    And the fullness of that heavenly reality is not yet revealed.   It will remain a mystery until the day of Christ’s coming.   Then He will take us, His bride, with Him and we will become completely one with Him at the marriage feast of the Lamb.   Then the marriage covenant between Christ and His church will be fulfilled.  

But that mystery is to a certain extend already revealed to us when we look at the union of a husband and wife in marriage.   When a man and a woman enter into marriage they become one.   Inseparably one – for as long as they both shall live!  But while they become completely one, they also remain different.   The husband has his role and function as head of his wife; the wife has her place and role as his helper.  

 

Yes, the marriage covenant between husband and wife and their complete unity in marriage, is now already a picture of the heavenly reality of our marriage to Christ.   Nothing is more holy or sacred.   Nothing is created with greater wisdom or perfection.

 

Now, after our Lord Jesus referred to these two passages in Genesis that speak about the creation of the man and his wife, and the institution of marriage, Christ now concludes here in our text, verse 6, by saying:

 

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.   Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate”

 

Not only did He create them in this unity and for this unity, but He also gave a perpetual rule for all generations that a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and that the two will become one flesh.   It is He who created them in this way, and it is He who joined them together in this way by the institution of marriage.

It is all God’s work.   It is good.   Yes, it is very good.   It is His design in creation.   It is also His ordinance in the institution of marriage.   

 

Therefore we confess in the marriage form:

 

“We therefore believe that the LORD, also today, gives husband and wife to one another.   Since they are united by His hand, nothing shall separate them in this life.”

 

No one has the authority to separate husband and wife, for God almighty has made them one.  

 

B… and L…, what then does it mean that you will become one?

 

We note that in the second place, that…

You will become one

 

“…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

 

The union between husband and wife is greater than the union between parents and children.  

Now, the relationship between parents and children is indeed a very close relationship; but even that cannot compare to the intimacy and oneness that God designed for marriage.   There is a natural bond between parents and children.   There is also an ordained bond between parents and children.  Parents are responsible before the Lord to raise their children in the fear of His Name.   Parents are the appointed instructors and guardians to raise their children with loving care; and the children are to love and honour and obey their parents.  

And we know how close that bond between parents and children can be.  

A parent will never forget his child.  

Children love and honour their parents.  

And yet there comes a time when this close and dear relationship has to take second place.   When a man marries a woman, he will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.   They will form the closest human relationship which God created.

 

And parents also have to respect that.   After the marriage the wife or the husband comes first, and their unity takes priority.

Also when husband and wife receives children; the marriage bond comes first, and the bond with your children second.  

No relationship may interfere or compete with the perfect unity between husband and wife.  They are one.   When you want to share your most intimate thoughts and plans and joys, you do not go to your parents first of all, or to your friends, or to your children – you only have one best friend with whom you share all things: your wife/your husband.

 

Yes, the closest human relationship for which God created man is that of husband and wife.  

Nothing may come in between.   Nothing may compete with this union, nothing may interfere with it.

 

What then does it mean that you will become one flesh?   The expression “one flesh” does not refer to a sexual relationship – not in the first place.   “One flesh” refers to the fact that the woman was taken from the bones and flesh of man, so that when they unite in marriage a man receives his other half, so to speak.  

Your wife is part of you, so that you are not complete without her.   When you marry, the two of you become one complete unity.   The two of you will become one.

 

God created man one, then He made the one man into two – male and female – and then He joined them together again as “one flesh”.  

It simply means that you will enter that close union for which God created you and which He ordained for you in marriage.

 

B… and L…, once you entered this union, once you became one flesh, once you received your other half to be complete, you can never separate again without tearing your body into pieces.

Just as your body is “one flesh”, and just as a separation of head and body causes death, so also is divorce the most severe violence by which one body is torn apart.

If you will never consider such foolishness as to tear your own body into pieces, much less should you consider divorce!  

 

When “one flesh” – that is: one body – is torn apart, the body is destroyed.   In the same way divorce destroys.   It is no less painful, it is no less foolish, no less destructive.  

 

Once you are united in marriage the two of you are together one body, one flesh, one unbreakable unity.

 

B…, you are the head.   L… you are his body.   A head cannot function without a body; a body cannot function without a head.    God joins you together, and this unity is no less real than the unity of your own body!

 

From now on there is no “yours and mine” anymore.  

B… from now on you may not speak of “My money, my car, my time…”.   From now on, when you speak to L…, you will say “Our car, our money, our time…”.    And L…, seeing that you have a house on your name, you will also have to remember to speak of “our house”.    There is no yours and mine in marriage, for God unites you and makes you one.

 

When worldly people marry they often divide their possessions even before marriage, and sign a contract that in case of a divorce this will be his and that will be hers!   They refuse to become one, and they think of divorce even before they marry.   We know how that goes.   As soon as the physical excitement is over, their marriage is an empty shell; no, it even becomes a burden for them to remain together.

 

There is no truth and faithfulness and no regard for the institution as God ordained it.

The painful and destructive consequences can be seen all around us.

 

Yes, we live in a secular society that despises God and His command; a society that wants to be wiser that God.   We also live in an individualistic society.   So individualistic that even husbands and wives refuse to be joined together as one.   Each has their own ambitions and seeks for self-realisation!   And what a mess that causes!

 

God’s society is a covenant society, in which there is no room for individualism.   In the framework of God’s covenant society, marriage is the most basic unity.   When the complete and unbreakable unity of marriage is disregarded, all of society falls apart.  

 

The unity of your marriage lays the foundation for the unity of your family.    The unity of your marriage lays the foundation for covenant education.   One of the main reasons why God joins you together to be one is in order that you may raise a godly offspring.

The prophet Malachi speaks about this when he says that God made them one because He seeks godly offspring – Mal. 2: 15.

 

Broken marriages destroy covenant education.   Without unity in marriage, there can be no unity in the family.   With broken homes and broken families all of society suffers and falls apart.   Therefore the prophet says that God made husband and wife one in order that they may raise a godly offspring.  

 

The unity which you enter is a unity in service of God.   And when this unity is broken it will also break down your service to God.  

It is a unity given by God, but it is also a unity in God, so that the believer may only marry in the Lord.  

By marriage you are yoked together in such a way that you become one in all that you do.   You serve as one, with one heart, one mind, one purpose in life; which is to glorify God in all of life.

 

Let us then note, in the last place, that…

This unity may not be broken

 

            “…what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

We may also translate the Greek:

 

            “…what God has joined together, no man may separate.”

 

No man has the authority to separate what God almighty has joined together.

You yourself do not have that authority; neither does any judge or magistrate have the authority to separate what God has joined together.

 

When the disciples grasped the meaning of Jesus’ answer, they started sulking like little children, saying:

 

            “…If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (19: 10)

 

In affect they were saying: if we are not allowed to divorce then it’s better not to marry.

But God teaches us differently.   He said it is good to marry; it is not good to be alone.   And He gave the marriage bond as a blessing, not as a burden.  

When a husband loves his wife and a wife submits to her husband with a quiet and gentle spirit, there will be no thought of divorce.   Where there is love, meekness, patience, yes, where the fruit of the Spirit is present, divorce is the most unwanted thing on earth.  

 

B… and L…, family and friends, Christ our Saviour also died to redeem our marriages.

Being united with Christ in His death and resurrection, our old man died and we were raised a new man in Christ, so that we are no longer slaves of sin.  

He sanctifies and renews our whole life by His blood and Spirit.   He removes from us the heart of stone and gives us hearts of flesh.  

By His grace we may vow that we will never separate from our wife or husband.   For those who believe the gospel and put their trust in the Lord, He will be a faithful God, redeeming and restoring your whole life to the glory of His name.  

 

In ten minutes time you will be making your vows, B… and L…, before the Lord and before many witnesses.   You will vow to remain faithful to each other, and never to forsake each other for as long as you both shall life.

 

You cannot make this vow if you trust in your own goodness or wisdom.  

You cannot even trust your own heart!

You are able to make your vow of faithfulness – never to forsake, never to separate – only because you believe the gospel of redemption in Christ and cling to what He has promised you.

 

By the grace of God your marriage bond will be a blessing and a comfort – for as long as you both shall live.

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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