One thing is sure – the current cultural push to redefine marriage and family is a significant challenge for Christ-followers. Another thing is equally sure – marriage and family has been weakened (even among professing Christians) by decades of sexual sins that preceded the current cultural push to normalize homosexual activity and relationships.
No-fault divorce, infidelity, pornography, and pre-marital sex leading to out-of-wedlock births should come to mind as we read Hebrews 13:4 and think about God’s holy concern for HIS institution of marriage.
Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. (HCSB)
Before I began serving as a local church pastor, I served as a chaplain in a county jail in Tennessee. Throughout my adult life I have participated in jail and prison ministries. The majority of men that I encountered came from dysfunctional family backgrounds that can be traced to all types of sexual sins committed by … (get this!) … heterosexuals.
Men were bitter because their parents “broke up,” because their dad “left their mom” for another woman, because they had never met their father, who was never married to their mom, etc. Since the 1960s and its so-called sexual “revolution,” families have suffered. This dynamic is not unique to prison settings. I have experienced the same broken, dysfunctional stories in churches of varying ethnic and socio-economic make-up.
I’m addressing this issue with pastors because often preaching/teaching has not equipped the congregation to approach marriage, sexuality, and family with biblical clarity. The Bible’s teaching on these matters should be central to a healthy biblical diet as pastors preach what Paul calls the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It appears that sometimes (not in every case) the current culture-war over so-called “same sex marriage” is a convenient scapegoat for many that have failed to address the true causes of family breakdown during the past generation.
Let me be clear—homosexuality is sin, however, it is not the sexual sin that has led to the last generation of family breakdown in America, even among those professing to be Christians. If you, preacher, have had little to say in the past about divorce, adultery, cohabitation (shacking), and a general devaluing of marriage in our culture (even among Christians), then it might appear strange if now you preach/complain about so-called “gay marriage” as an assault against the family.
Why should pulpits trumpet God’s purpose in marriage? Because the Bible says marriage is to be respected “by all.” Marriage is not merely for Christians and those that want to honor God. It is part of God’s order in creation (Genesis 2). Just as God ordained male and female in creation, so He ordained marriage and the purity of the marriage bed—the sexual union between one man and one woman according to God’s order.
Our culture speaks of sex in isolation and mechanical ways. Pastors must continuously speak of sex in the biblical setting of marriage. The oversexualization of our culture cannot lead to an asexualization in the church, where we don’t preach/teach about God’s purposes in sexuality. If we don’t teach God’s purposes for sex in our families and congregations, don’t worry; the world will fill in the gaps for your children and young adults.
You don’t have to create a series, pastor. If you preach the Bible, there is much to preach regarding sexuality. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, addresses these matters in the Gospels. The apostles address sexual sins and God’s purposes in the letters to churches in the NT. The OT laws, particularly in Deuteronomy, demonstrate that sexual sin is not an innovation of our time.
If you will systematically preach through books and chapters of scripture, you will faithfully feed God’s sheep with a diet that includes teaching on marriage, sexuality, family, forgiveness of sin, restoration, cleansing, and the glory of pursuing one’s sexuality in a way that honors God.
Regardless of what’s happening in the surrounding culture, Christ’s followers can be a shining witness of God’s purposes for marriage, sexuality, and family. In order for this to happen, pastors must teach, with biblical clarity, on these vital matters.