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Friday, February 24, 2017

What's the Big Deal?

In June, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a momentous decision to redefine life for Americans forever after. How did they do that? They voted to redefine marriage. Consciously. They recognized that the longstanding, traditional definition had always been for all time the union of a man and a woman, but they opted to rewrite that definition to include two people of the same gender. (Why only "two"? Why "people"? No one can say.)

You'd think that would end the question. It's now law. In fact, it's no longer legal to meaningfully disagree. And, still, some of us argue on. Some of us -- you know, Bible-believing Christians and such -- still try to make the point. So what's the big deal? Why go on with this?

As I said before, I'm teaching the book of Ruth. It's a really good story. And it's short! All the better. But there is so much packed in those four chapters. The widow Moabite woman, Ruth, follows her widowed mother-in-law back to Bethlehem. They're trying to make ends meet. Ruth goes and gleans in Boaz's fields. Naomi tells her he's one of her closest relatives. So Ruth, "a woman of excellence" (Ruth 3:11) asks Boaz to redeem her. And he does. Ruth and Boaz marry and they produce Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David, the eventual father of Christ. All good stuff. But Ruth is better than a love story. Ruth is a love story for the ages.

In Ruth we see the concept of the "kinsman-redeemer". It's a Hebrew term from Hebrew law where a close relative can buy a relative in trouble out of trouble. We hyphenate the term ("kinsman-redeemer") because in Hebrew it's one word. The word might be translated "close relative" or "redeemer" ... or both. And the image is unambiguous. Boaz serves as Ruth's "kinsman-redeemer", where he pays the price to redeem her from troubles she has no way of escaping. In so doing, he also buys her as his bride -- that's part of the deal. And the picture is quite robust. Christ became human to be our kinsman so that He could pay the price of redemption when we had no option of getting out of our sin problem and He bought for Himself a Bride, the Church. Paul says, "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church." (Eph 5:31-32)

We have argued of late against "gay marriage" because that's not a thing. But before that it was the feminists arguing for egalitarianism -- we're all completely equal -- over complementarianism, where the Scriptures teach that the husband is head of the wife (1 Cor 11:3) and the wife and husband are equal in value but complementary in operation, each filling the gaps in the other to make a more whole "one". And before that it was divorce. Is it okay to divorce for any reason? No (Matt 19:3-6). But they pushed through "no-fault divorce" and we buy it more than we should. Before that it was reproduction. Do we really need to "be fruitful and multiply", or can we refuse to bear children with the help of contraception? Hardly a Christian today questions that one. Of course sex is recreational, even for married couples, and bearing children is optional rather than optimal.

But, you see, what we've done over the last half of the 20th century into the 21st is to dismantle every aspect of God's picture. Marriage was designed to be the analogy we could see of Christ's relationship to the Church. He bought her and paid for her. He becomes one with her, together for life. He is her head. Together they reproduce. It is a whole and clear picture. But piece by piece our culture, following their father of lies, has dismantled it and piece by piece we've let them until they arrive at this point where marriage means mostly nothing at all and we go along.

Big deal? Yes, indeed. God's version of marriage gives us a kinsman-redeemer who buys us out of sin, becomes one with us, keeps us for life, and reproduces with us. How many of today's generation see any of that as "marriage"? Take apart biblical marriage and you take apart my Savior, my salvation, my security, my purpose -- my life. It's a really big deal. And we have surrendered time and again. And appear to be doing so today. To our shame.

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