Thursday, 12 May 2011

Mashed screw heads & some old authority on marriage

I’m preparing a sermon for our first wedding of the summer tomorrow & I’ve been captivated by the idea of Jesus teaching us about married life. In Mark’s gospel it says he gathered the crowds & ‘he taught them.’ His chosen specialised subject was marriage.

In this frantic 21st Century, post modern, internet age – it seems a little odd that we might be taught about marriage by a single guy from the middle east who lived 2000 years ago. Yet his is not just another voice in the multitude of relationship advice that is out there – another user guide for dummies in the Amazon top 10. No - He has something to teach which is so foundational that we would be foolish not to sit up & listen. Ultimately, it says more about who Jesus really is that His words are still shaping our lives in this generation

He speaks as the one who was there in the beginning when God made man & woman. He teaches as one who was involved in the planning process for marriage & worked on the design brief for procreation. When we recognize this, we have to acknowledge that he is free to speak with an incredible authority to us. Because of who he is, a marriage between a couple who recognize his authority to speak & shape our lives ought to be the most secure, most loving, most sexually fulfilling relationship there is.
The reason we so often we fall short into disappointing, dysfunctional or even broken marriages, may be that we fail to allow this amazing teaching which comes with authority to penetrate our selfish hearts.

In 1984 when Toby Pass left the Woodwork room at Forest Boys School to go to the toilet, I fastened his almost completed letter rack to the work bench with big fat screws & in doing so mashed the heads for good measure.
He couldn’t take it off. Try as he might, the teacher couldn’t remove it either. It was a sword in the stone moment. For all I know it remains joined to that work bench to this day – an immovable monument to my adolescent misadventure!

Jesus teaches us that marriage stands or falls on this kind of authority. What God has joined together so tightly & completely is never intended to come apart. Jesus teaches us that it is God Himself who joins us. It is His authority as the creator of mankind & designer of married life which means no one else has any right to touch, break or interfere with this wonderful new union.

When God declares a man & woman joined, like the letter rack on the bench – the intention is that they stay joined. Our happy couple tomorrow enter a brave new world in the fast lane of 21st Century culture with these old truths of Jesus teaching them & holding them together from the start.

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