Tag: marriage

Jesus confronts religious arrogance

Edith Hamilton (1867-1963) had an ability to get underneath a story, to capture it as a real and human moment. Such was her rendering of the story of the Sadducees confronting Jesus about the after-life. She captured the authority with which Jesus spoke.

Here is her telling of the story, but I have inserted a more contemporary version of Scripture to make it read easier today, and I’ve inserted some paragraph breaks for the same purpose. Ms. Hamilton:

Jesus’ “mastery was felt by all who confronted him. Some Sadducees, of the powerful priestly party, came to him–by that time he had a certain notoriety as an itinerant preacher–and they planned to put a question to him in such a way that it would make him ridiculous in the eyes in the eyes of the crowd. They did not believe in immortality and they told him a story about a woman who had seven husbands.”

“In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her” (Mark 12:23, NRSV).

“From the experience of all their life they [the Sadducees] thought they were invulnerable in their armour of power and pride, and they were ready for their laugh at the travel-worn wayfarer who faced them.

“But, strangely, as they looked at him it was somehow conveyed to them that their scorn and ridicule did not touch him, did not reach him. He [Jesus] answered them very gravely. Laughter suddenly became impossible. He told them their question was one only ignorance could ask. They were ignorant of the very matters which as priests they professed to know.

Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong” (Mark 12:24-27, NRSV)

“They answered answered him nothing, not a word to oppose the stern rebuke. They were convicted of error before all the crowd and they did not even try to regain their ascendency. They had felt penetrating their panoply of arrogance an authority so commanding that they were helpless to question it, and they went silently away (Hamilton, Witness to the Truth, 140-142).

It is wise to be wary of the arrogance, including the religious arrogance, that leads us to think we understand everything perfectly. Jesus guides us, and we have His Spirit available to us, but we are not Him.

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100 years ago — a family starts & still lives

One hundred years ago today, two young people came together in marriage — William Everett Foster and Fairy Gertrude Morton. They eventually gave birth to four sons. One died very young. One fought in the Battle of the Bulge and survived. One died as an adult, leaving behind a young family. One (third in the order) still lives — my dad.

I’m thinking of these grandparents of mine today. We were not real close, but they laid part of the foundation for my life. Gertrude took my dad to church as a boy, and he never stopped. Everett took my dad into the fields to work as a boy, and my dad didn’t stop until his painful knees stopped him.

Every older person knows that life goes by quickly. As it does, it’s good to remember — even the things you did not experience but which laid the foundation for what you would.

Another way to think of this is that when they married in February, the Great War (our World War 1) was still going on. It would not end until November. Love and war.

A primer on biblical marriage

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

A pastor friend told me recently something like this: “Ferrell, in my ministry I deal with a whole lot more heterosexual sin than homosexual sin.”

The truth can hurt. Sexual sin is widespread. In confronting sexual sin, it is important to consider marriage. Here’s a little primer on biblical marriage.

What we call marriage today began as an act of creation. The Bible tells of God creating male and female persons. But God did not simply create them and put them in the garden; God told them to do something.

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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NRSV).

This first marriage had as its God-given purpose the desired end of fruitfulness — children. This marriage and those to follow are to reproduce and to take on a responsibility for the whole of God’s creation. Many couples give birth biologically, others take on the responsibility of fruitfulness by means that value the lives of children who need parents, such as through adoption and foster care.

A man and woman’s togetherness does not and does not come without cost. Each must leave something behind in order to pursue their purposes together.

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24, NRSV).

Jesus referenced these words about one flesh and added,

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6, NRSV).

Sex, of course, is part of marriage because it is required to fulfill God’s purposes, to help a couple bond, and for basic pleasure in one another. The Bible is not shy about sex, and it also deals with the importance of fidelity within marriage. The following verses speak from a man’s perspective, but similar words could be written from a woman’s view.

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
May her breasts satisfy you at all times;
may you be intoxicated always by her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? (Proverbs 5:18-20, NRSV)

Marriage in the Old Testament, however, did not always measure up to the standards God established. Wealthy and powerful men in the Old Testament often reflected the reality of the broader world culture in that they had multiple wives and even concubines.

Despite what was, there always has been what ought to be. The Apostle Paul talked about the value of being single in order to do God’s work, but he was also practical. If a person could not resist temptations to sexual immorality, then “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2, NRSV). Note the singular husband and wife.

Paul also spoke of how a man and a woman should relate to one another. In Ephesians, Paul compared the relationship of a husband and a wife to the relationship of Christ and the church. He spoke of love and submission. Specifically, he said men are to love their wives and women are to submit to their husbands, and he then adds the following:

This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband (Ephesians 5:32-33, NRSV).

The writer of Hebrews expressed the value of marriage and the dangers it faces in regard to sexual matters.

Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers (Hebrews 13:4, NRSV).

As our nation faces the issue of same-sex marriage, it is good for all of us to think again about God’s ideal for marriage. Gender difference is a definite part of godly marriage, but faithfulness and fidelity between a husband and a wife also are critical.