By Jason Wredberg
In an age marked by triviality and flippancy, Christians must swim upstream and reclaim a proper sense of reverence--especially in regard to marriage. Pastor and author Dave Harvey explains the weightiness of marriage this way: "Marriage was not just invented by God, it belongs to God. He has a unique claim over its design, purpose, and goals. It actually exists for him more than it exists for you and me and our spouses" (When Sinners Say I Do, p. 25). In an effort to glorify God by maintaining a joyful and lofty view of his good design for marriage, I ask the following question:
What does it look like for Redeemer Bible Church to treasure marriage?
1. We will treasure marriage as we unapologetically embrace a biblical understanding of marriage. In a world that is constantly maligning and mocking a Christian understanding of marriage, churches like ours need to dig in and joyfully celebrate marriage as the one-flesh union of one man and one woman for life. Marriage is God’s idea and it is not to be trifled with.
2. We will treasure marriage as we seek to cultivate healthy marriages within our church family. We need to begin teaching our children about God’s good design for marriage when they are very young. We need to actively pray for and then inform the thinking of our teenagers in a way that fuels a desire for a godly marriage. Older married couples need to seek out opportunities to invest in those preparing for marriage and those who are in the early stages of marriage. Healthy marriages don’t happen by accident—and the church has a wonderful opportunity to cultivate healthy marriages.
3. We will treasure marriage as we present marriage as something to be pursued, not avoided. Marriage is not an inconvenience or an interruption to the good life. In fact, a church can have a robustly biblical understanding of singleness AND celebrate the goodness of marriage as something to be sought after and enjoyed. I agree with Al Mohler who writes, “Our bodies are not evolutionary accidents, and God reveals his intention for humanity through the gifts of sexual maturation, fertility, and sexual desire. As men and women, we are made for marriage. As Christians, those not called to celibacy are called to demonstrate our discipleship through honoring the Creator's intention by directing sexual desire and reproductive capacity into a commitment to marriage. Marriage is the central crucible for accepting and fulfilling the adult responsibilities of work, parenthood, and the full acceptance of mature responsibilities.”
4. We will treasure marriage as we intentionally become a nurturing church family, marked by patient and understanding help for struggling marriages and aggressive strengthening for already healthy marriages. Marriage can be extraordinarily difficult. Many wonder—at different times—if it’s worth it. Tragically, far too many marriages will be ravaged by sin and there will be biblical grounds for divorce. But this does not a mean a divorce is then commanded. No, as a default position, we want to see marriages restored. We want to see what is broken put back together again. We want to offer help to those who are deeply hurting. But we also want to be proactive. We want to offer counseling, and classes, and organized programs, and retreats and conferences—all designed to help strengthen marriages. We want to do this for the glory of God and for every member’s ever-increasing joy in Jesus.
5. We will treasure marriage as we become a safe and secure home for those who have experienced the profound pain of divorce. The heart-breaking reality is that marriages are constantly being destroyed by sin. Whether it’s sexual immorality, abuse, or abandonment—until Christ returns, Satan will continue to hate and attack marriages. Hurting men, women, and children will be left alone—vulnerable and afraid and feeling like they don’t belong anywhere. My hope and prayer is that Redeemer will be the kind of faith family that offers a gospel-infused welcome to all those who are hurting.
For many years, the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia has opened their service this way. I pray this reflects the heart of Redeemer Bible Church as well.
“To all who are spiritually weary and seek rest; to all who mourn and long for comfort; to all who struggle and desire victory; to all who sin and need a Savior; to all who are strangers and want fellowship; to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness; and to whoever will come—this church opens wide her doors and offers her welcome in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”