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Marriage Culture

Misunderstanding Marriage: A Christian Response To Rape Culture

Marriage Culture
From no-fault divorce to the legalization of gay marriage, the church has failed to protect this holy creation ordinance from those who would seek to destroy it. What has resulted is a culture that has a very low view of marriage and instead exalts sex as the ultimate end-all of romantic relationships.
 
 
It is clear that sexual abuse is an enormous problem in our culture. We’ve all seen it in the news and heard the stories—from the high profile stars being accused to the countless cases on college campuses—and this still only represents a fraction of the sexual abuse that occurs so frequently and touches so many people. The other day, I came across an article on Facebook explaining why people shouldn’t have sex with sleeping or unconscious people. It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached a place where explaining that is necessary, but that’s where we find ourselves today. So how did we get here? Where did this “rape culture” come from? And most importantly, how can we get out of it? As Christians, I suggest that we need to get back to a biblical view on marriage in order to correct this epidemic.
 
In America, marriage has been under attack since the mid-20th century and secularism has decisively won the battle for the country’s recognized standard. From no-fault divorce to the legalization of gay marriage, the church has failed to protect this holy creation ordinance from those who would seek to destroy it. What has resulted is a culture that has a very low view of marriage and instead exalts sex as the ultimate end-all of romantic relationships. The significance of marriage has in large part become laughable to the American public, while sex is so obviously the idol of this age. It is seen as a basic human right; something that nobody should be deprived of under any circumstances. It is viewed as something that is purely personal preference—whomever, however, whenever—with no standard, context, or consequences. But the Bible lays out clear conditions, regulations, and a context for the gift of sex.
 
At creation, marriage was ordained by God and described as a man and a woman becoming “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This was later reiterated by Jesus during his ministry (Mt. 19:5). This “one flesh” is more than just the physical act of sex. Sex is but a symbol and expression of what marriage is which is two people being spiritually joined as one. They become forever united. This was Jesus’ reasoning for declaring divorce to be sinful (Mt. 19:6), and Paul used this to argue that Christians should not marry non-Christians (2 Cor. 6:14). Sex is a symbol, a physical expression of a spiritual reality, and may not be used outside of that binding truth. However, within the context of marriage, sex is a joyous, wonderful gift from God. Instead of being the end, it is an integral part of the marriage relationship and in it, there are deep expressions of love, oneness, completion, and companionship. It is intended both for pleasure and to strengthen the marriage, and it is because of this that Paul commands husbands and wives not to withhold sex from one another (1 Cor. 7:5). Husband and wife were made for one another in every sense—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—and sex within marriage gives glory to God.
 
Scripture does not stop there—it gives us even more elements that make sex and marriage so special. Not only is sex a symbol, but marriage itself also points to something greater. Have you ever asked why only humans get married? We do not see animals marry one another and we know that even angels do not get married (Mt. 22:30). This is because marriage is something uniquely made for God’s image bearers—man. Marriage is actually part of the Image of God in us! The oneness of husband and wife points to the unity and eternal fellowship of the Triune Godhead. Not only that, but marriage also symbolizes that special relationship between Christ and his church. He sacrificed himself out of love for her that she may be protected, purified, and provided for, as a husband ought to do for his wife (Eph. 5:25-28). Likewise, wives are to lovingly submit to and support their husbands, as the church does Christ (5:23-24). Marriage symbolizes these two profound spiritual realities and sex is a physical expression and picture of both of these as well; so we see how significant sex and marriage really are.
 
Now we are seeing the detrimental effects of their abuse. It should not surprise us one bit to see the misuse of sex and the belittling of marriage lead us to such a despicable culture. If sex is seen as the end of romantic relationships, and as something to which everybody is entitled and can decide for themselves its proper context, we naturally reach a culture plagued by rape and sexual abuse. So what do we do as Christians? First, we need to continually preach the gospel. It is the only thing that can truly change the hearts of sex offenders and sinners everywhere. In addition, we need to fight for biblical marriage on every front. From divorce to same-sex, to no marriage whatsoever, we need to be boldly and graciously committed to the biblical standard of marriage. We also need to bring up our children, especially our young men, in the gospel, teaching them the importance of marriage, the context for sex, and the sinfulness of abusing it. May the Lord deliver us from this sex worshipping society and let His rule reign in the hearts of man.
 
 
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA.  Click here for more RCSH Blog posts. 
 
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