Against the Foundation
Mark 10:2-16; Genesis 2:18-24
I came across the following comparison chart when doing a little research for this morning’s sermon. It’s called “Love vs Marriage”:
Love: When you take a bubble bath together
Marriage: When you give the kids a bath
Love: A romantic candlelight dinner for two
Marriage:4 Happy Meals . . . to go
Love: Giving your love some candy
Marriage: Scraping candy off of the carpet
Love: A night out at the Symphony
Marriage: A night out at Sesame Street On Ice
Love: Aroma -French perfume
Marriage: Aroma -“The baby needs changing. . .”
Love: Lending your jacket to your love when he/she is cold
Marriage: Your teenager just took your jacket
Love: Long drives through the countryside
Marriage: Long drives with the kids screaming in the back-seat
I guarantee to you that in United Church’s across this country you are going to hear every side of the marriage debate as we all struggle about what marriage is supposed to be. People will use this opportunity to speak against those in favour of same-sex marriages. And some will speak strongly in favour of the traditional form of marriage. This passage from Mark which we read this morning is hard for us to deal with as a denomination given what we’ve said about marriage. And I guess today you get to find out where I stand on the issue.
On top of this, we also have this dividing issue affecting our Catholic brothers and sisters as they live and deal with the shock of the allegations against one of their own trusted and respected leaders.
The same leader who just a few weeks ago was heralded as a hero for bringing about a generous and groundbreaking settlement for those whose lives were hurt by the actions of priests through inappropriate actions. Yet, soon after, he himself is being accused of a terrible crime which brings to light all the actions which were attempted to be buried years ago. In one person, great healing, followed very quickly after by great pain. Throwing all churches into some state of chaos.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea where to start this morning. The two things that come to mind are, “sin sucks” and “pray, pray, pray”.
What are the great sins of our world? People might say greed, drinking, drugs, pride, things like these which cause great evil in our world. You never hear of concerns around sex.
I ask, do you know what the most profitable online industry is? If you wanted guaranteed money for starting an online business, what could you do? Pornography is what drives new media. Why do things live DVD’s, Blu-Ray become popular so quickly? It’s because of the pornography industry.
In 2006, 12% of internet websites were pornography based, totalling just shy of $100 billion dollars. The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. All together cannot match the revenue of the online pornography industry.
We don’t talk about it. We don’t deal with the issues of adultery and porn addictions, which damage relationships as much as anything else. People get addicted to these things, just like they get addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling. And these addictions can grow and be destructive, destroying lives.
Lives like the victims within the diocese of Antigonish, hurt by those in positions of trust and power. Victims like those who get caught with illegal images, causing shame and pain for themselves and their families.
Activities which go against the will of God. We don’t talk about these issues unless they hit the news in a big way. And even then, we don’t really talk about it. In our over-sexualized world, we don’t talk about sex and its dangers.
Which brings us to our readings from today. Notice in Mark, Jesus refers back to Genesis 2 when he talks about marriage. He talks about the union of a man and a woman, just as God had created in the beginning. Marriage is not a Christian ritual, it is a creation ritual, ordained in creation by God. The bringing together of two opposite, yet equal sexes in marriage for two reasons. The first, to accompany one another, to help one another. The second, to procreate. When we look at the creation story in Genesis 1, what is the first thing God says to Adam and Eve? “Be fruitful and multiply…”
What Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 is often quoted as a reason why men are able to rule over their wives however they see fit. And the reason why women suffer abuse in the relationship. “Wives be subject to your husbands… as the husband is the head of the family…” What is often forgotten is the next part, the role of the husband, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave up himself for her.” Woah! There’s an intimidating role to fill. Be like Christ in your marriage. Give up of yourself for your wife.
Divorce is not in God’s plan. But when there is adultery happening, or abuse of the relationship then it is not marriage. Marriage is the union of a man and woman by God. Two equal partners, who have different roles.
All to often we see God taken out of the marriage ceremony. We see changes in the language being used. In vows now the couple will say, “As long as our love shall last.” I shudder at this vow. Sure it sounds beautiful and romantic. But what happens when there’s a disagreement? An argument? These vows allow an easy way out. If I get lazy and decide not to put any effort into my relationship with my wife, then I guess the love is gone and we should part.
“As long as we both shall live.” Marriage is a lifelong commitment, a commitment that requires great effort on both parts. God never said it was going to be easy. After the fall, when Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden, he told them it was going to be hard. But the best part? You are not alone, you have a partner, a spouse who is working with you.
“A man shall leave his family and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh, So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus said this in our reading from Mark. If you are doing the math, it goes like this: 1 + 1 = 1.
A man leaves his family and becomes one with his wife. God brings them together, as it was in creation. “What God has brought together, let no one separate.”
In our world full of sins in all shapes and sizes, they all are meant to break what God has created. Marriage, goodness, love, caring, compassion. Sins of the world work together to break apart families, friendships, communities, places where God can do great things.
Jesus calls us into relationships with one another. Calls us to serve one another. Calls us to care for one another. To resist the temptation to sin and pull away from God.
I am not saying we are to judge one another on our lifestyles. We are not to ignore people in our communities because they sin. Let’s face it, we are all sinners, every single one of us. Yet we are Christians, loved by God and called to love and serve.
Jesus walked among sinners, the unclean, the forgotten. With him he brought them healing and love.
God has brought the world together, let no one separate it.
Our families are the cornerstone of our society. It is where we raise our children, the future leaders of our planet. Let’s remember God’s creation story, and not forget how it was broken down to what we have today.
A world full of temptation and sin, striking out at our families, breaking them apart. Our duty as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ is to help others who struggle. To walk with them and help them be healed.
This is my prayer for us today. To let Jesus Christ be the foundation upon which all of society is built, starting with our families, however, or in whatever manner they are broken.