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The Covenant of Marriage ~ Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25

July 12, 2015 ~ New City Church of Calgary ~ Pastor John Ferguson
Intro: Our Wedding Day Pic. Hodgepodge of ideas about marriage, including, We dont need a piece of paper
to tell us that were in love, Marriage is Gods idea, & Lets elope! We can live on love.
Chip Ingram says in Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships, Whether intended or not, Hollywood has a formula for
love, sex, and lasting relationships.
1.
2.
3.
4.

Find the right person. It just happens.


Fall in love. In the hollywood formula, love is based on chemistry, not knowledge or character.
Fix your hopes and dreams on tis person for your future fulfillment. You complete me.
If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, & 3.
It may sound harsh and burst a few romantic bubbles, but this Hollywood four-step formula is what most
of us now unconsciously believe about how relationships work. I find the Hollywood formula just as
prevalent among Christians as among non-Christians. And the results are equally disastrous.

Question: Is it possible that we have unconsciously bought into the Hollywood formula about how relationships
work & what they are for? Is there an alternative way of thinking about love, sex, and relationships?
Last week: What is marriage according to Jesus? A: Marriage is a covenantal relationship established by God
in which he joins together a man and a woman into a one flesh union where the husband and wife can also be
father and mother to any children their one flesh union produces.
This week: What is the covenant of marriage? And how should that inform the way Christians get married?
SNAPSHOT #1: Genesis 1:26Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let
them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock
and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27So God created man
in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28And God
blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that
moves on the earth.
The Mandate: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. IOW, Make love. Make babies. Raise children.
SNAPSHOT #2: Genesis 2: 18Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will

make him a helper fit for him.

Alone: Gods design is that humanity should be fruitful and fill the earth, but Adam is alone and has no one
to help him do this. He cannot reproduce humans by himself.

19Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the
heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called
every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the
heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
Adam needs help to fulfill the mandate that God has given him to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth

21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made
into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,This at last is bone of my bones and
flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman,because she was taken out of Man. 24Therefore a man
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shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And
the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
1. Out of one God made two, so that the two could become one.
2. The first wedding is a designed pattern: for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and
hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
(1) Leave
Traditional societies have made the family of origin the ultimate value, so marriages were simply
arrangements to help advance the familys interests. The familys needs are more important than the
individuals.
Contemporary societies have made personal fulfillment the ultimate value, so marriages are simply
transactions to help advance a persons happiness. The individuals needs are more important than
the relationship.
The Biblical ideal of marriage is a covenant that sees God & his purposes as the ultimate value, and
so marriage advances the ideals set out for it by God himself. A new family unit is created that is more
important than the family of origins interests AND more important than the personal fulfillment of the
individual, though both are still important (just not ultimate).
(2) Cleave1
1) Hebrew word for cleave / united to literally means to be glued/bonded to someone.
2) Often used in the Bible to mean to unite to someone by a covenant, (cf. Dt. 10:20, You shall fear
the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear).
Malachi 2:14, the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youthshe is your
companion and your wife by covenant. Did not he make them one?
Prov. 2:17, describes the wayward wife who left the partner of her youth, and ignored the
covenant made before God.
3) Covenant Promises to God: In the presence and sight of God, will you take this woman to be your
wife in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, serve her, comfort, honour, and keep her; and,
forsaking all others, will you be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Covenant Promises to each other: I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband, and I promise
and covenant before God and these witnesses to be your loving and faithful wife, for better or for
worse, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both
shall live.
4) Marriage Promises are not about present feelings, but about future love.
CS Lewis, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises.
Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing
upon the passion of love something that is foreign to that passion's own nature; it is demanding
that lovers should take seriously something that their passion itself impels them to do.And of
course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved
as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about
things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might
as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.
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Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 87), Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a
mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how
loving you feel nowthat can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God,
your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful, and true
to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external
circumstances.
5) Jesus view of marriage, What God has joined together, let no man separate.
Marriage is a permanent as-long-as-you-both-shall-live relationship established by God.
Keller uses the helpful illustration of Ulysses traveling by the island of the Sirens knowing that
their songs would cause temporary insanity and undo him and the crew. He ordered wax to be put
in the ears of his sailors to drown out the sound of the sirens, and tied himself to the mast so they
would not fall to their seductive songs.
What can keep marriages together during the rough patches? The vows. A public oath, made to
the world, keeps you tied to the mast until your mind clears and you begin to understand things
better. It keeps you in the relationship when your feelings flag, and flag they will. By contrast,
consumer relationships cannot possibly endure these inevitable test of life, because neither party
is tied to the mast.
(3) Weave
1) God has uniquely designed the sexuality of the man and the woman to fit together perfectly, so that
the two could become one biological, emotional, & social union that can produce the next
generation of humans.
And because God is good, he made it pleasurable and fun to help ensure that husbands and
wives would have lots of sex which ordinarily produces the next generation.
Song of Solomon 5:1, Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love.
2) The sexual union of a man and a woman in the act of marriage is meant to be a picture of their
entire lives in an intimate union with one another, and thats why the Scripture places the act of
sexual love exclusively within marriage.
Example: In the movie, Vanilla Sky [BTW, this is NOT an endorsement of the movie!], Cameron
Diazs character, Julie, plays part of friends with benefits to Tom Cruises character, Brian. This
arrangement is fine, until another lady catches Brians interests. Julie protests, Don't you know
that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not!

So, what is the covenant of marriage?


Not contractual: marriage as a bilateral contract that is voluntarily formed, maintained, and dissolved by two
individuals. Merely a horizontal, civil arrangement.
But covenantal: marriage as a sacred bond between a man and a woman instituted by God and
entered into before God. It is a vertical as well as horizontal bond.2
Main Idea: Marriage is a sacred bond that involves leaving, cleaving, and weaving.

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Application: Elevate marriage to its rightful place as a sacred bond leaving, cleaving, & weaving.
Our city and our worldour married friends and single friends, and even our childrendesperately needs an
alternative to Hollywoods view of love, sex, & lasting relationships.
E.g., We dont need a piece of paper to tell us that were in love. And thats true. But what youre also
saying is, I dont love you enough to bind my life to you before God. But lets pretend we are married
(pretend to leave, cleave, and weave) but not actually get married in case I find someone else I like better
than you.
While you dont need a piece of paper to tell you youre in love, you do need to enter into a covenant
before God to demonstrate your commitment to love until death parts you.
Otherwise, youre just playing Hollywood. Theres no leaving, cleaving, & weaving. Just discardable
relationships where people use one another for sex, status, or self-actualization (Keller).
The alternative to this popular view is the view of Jesus that sees marriage as a sacred bond that involves
leaving, cleaving, and weaving, is not just an interesting idea.
Its also part of Gods design for human flourishing.
And Jesus wants to not only bring us in line with Gods design, but he wants to bring us online into a
relationship with God.
Ultimately, another human can never complete you. Only God can do that. My wife is a great wife and a
wonderful helper, but she was never designed to complete me, only to be a complement to me. And if I
try to make her do only what God can do, then I will (1) always be constantly disappointed in her; (2)
wreck this relationship.
Jesus comes to redeem us and to bring us into a relationship with the only Being who can complete us: God
himself. Jesus had to die to overcome the relational distance created by our sin, and to reconcile us to God.
Only then can I love my spouse the way God designed: as bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

NCC, In a world that has bought into Hollywoods view of love, sex, and marriage, may you elevate
marriage to its rightful place as a sacred bond that involves leaving, cleaving, and weaving.
And well need the grace of the Lord Jesus to do this.

Grace to enter covenantal marriages


Grace to strengthen marriages
Grace to help others who are experiencing difficulties in marriage
Grace to help others in the wake of collapsed marriages
And grace in our conversations about marriage with others in our city, our communities, and in our
families

Summarizing Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 82ff.

(HT: Adreas J. Kostenberger, God Marriage, & the Family, 75.)

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