Good-Grace Marriages

Good-Grace Marriages

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?
–Matthew 19:4-5

A lot of Christians treat biblical commands about marriage like the instructions in the owner’s manual for their car. Ideally, you should not idle with the engine on–but if you do that, no real harm done, right? In the same way, they say, “Ideally, you should not marry an unbeliever, have an affair, or get divorced–but if you do those things, no lasting damage.”

That is what you call bad grace. Good grace recognizes that while violating God’s commands is forgivable, it still has consequences. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses told the Israelites, “I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God . . . and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God” (vv. 26-28). If you obey, you experience God’s blessing; if you disobey, you experience God’s curse. And nowhere is the corollary between obedience and blessing seen more clearly than when it comes to the family.

Good grace understands that we have to follow God’s commands about whom to marry, and one of the boundaries God has put in place is that marriage must be with a member of the opposite sex. In Matthew 19, when the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, He pointed them back to God’s original plan for marriage: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (vv. 4-5).

Jesus was reiterating what every plumber knows: sex is to be between opposites. Before God made Eve, He said, “I will make [Adam] a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). That word “suitable” in Hebrew literally means “opposite.” God made your spouse to complement you and make a more powerful union. Theologian John Piper explained it this way: “A different kind of unity is enjoyed by the joining of diverse counterparts than is enjoyed by joining two things just alike. When we all sing the same melody line it is called ‘unison,’ which means ‘one sound.’ But when we unite diverse lines of soprano and alto and tenor and bass, we call it harmony, and everyone who has an ear to hear knows that something is touched in us more deeply by great harmony than by unison. So God made a woman and not another man.” Marriage is not whatever you want it to be; marriage is between a man and a woman.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Marriages” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

John Piper, “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” (Nashville: B&H, 2013), 272.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org