Order of Creation
July 12 – Commandment 4 and 6
Second in a series, “What We Believe”
Romans 13:1-7 // Ephesians 5:22-33 // Genesis 2:15-25 // Matthew 28:16-20
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon is going to include all the texts read, as we consider the 4th and the 6th commandments.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt for a purpose: to redeem them, to call them his own, to restore to the Israelites that which Adam lost, and last week we considered the first three commandments, called the first table of the Law. You shall have no other Gods, you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Today we consider the fourth and the sixth commandments. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not commit adultery.
But first, why do we consider them together? Because together they signify the order of the family, that first little unit of human interaction. Husbands and wives become fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. This is the ONLY human institution that was, (and I’m going to quote the marriage address here), that was “instituted and blessed by God in Paradise, before humanity’s fall into sin.” No other human institution was created in the perfection of the Garden of Eden. Sit on that for a while.
Every other human institution, at every level, reflects the dynamics that are set up in the family. Every other human institution, at every level, is ordered by way we relate to our family.
Now, I’m sure you’re used to pastors making broad and sweeping statements without backing them up. But let’s examine this.
Bosses and managers act in part like parents.
Coworkers and board members act in part like siblings.
Members of a church can fight just as well as members of a family.
Partners on a team feel like they know each other well enough that they could be married.
Employees can get to feel like they are married to their jobs.
The workings of this first human institution are reflected in every other human institution.
The way you’ve learned to interact with siblings and cousins shapes how you interact with every one of your peers.
The way you’ve been taught to interact with your mom and dad shapes how you evaluate every other authority.
Like it or not, I, with my strengths and my weaknesses, will be the measuring stick that my boys will have to use to evaluate every other authority. I, for better and for worse, set the questions that my boys will ask of every other authority. These are far-reaching commandments.
Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents or other authorities but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish themq. This is closely tied to the First Commandment, You shall have no other gods. Romans 13 gives us the ground. God has put authority in place. God has given you a father and mother, through no choice of your own. And the reason to honor father and mother is not because of who they are, but because of who they represent.
Let me say that again. The reason to honor father and mother is not because of who they are, but because of who they represent: God. In their authority over you, they represent God.
I’ll honor my father and my mother for every way they get it right, every way that they reflect the care of my Heavenly Father. I’ll honor them for that, and, for every way that they get it wrong and fall short, I’ll remember that they are imperfect, sinful human beings, and I will look to my perfect heavenly father to fulfill.
Honor your father and your mother.
So, does that mean the Christian follows authority blindly? Is Pastor Muther preaching that Christians in Nazi Germany who resisted the government were breaking the 4th commandment? Come to bible study to ask the question.
You shall not commit adultery. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and, husband and wife, love and honor each other.
This commandment does two things.
First, it calls all people to lead sexually pure and decent lives. In other words, this commandment causes us to examine how we view others. What is the main value that affects our interaction with others? Is it our attraction to them? Is it their usefulness for my pleasure? This is the main problem with pornography. It ignores another’s humanity, turns others into objects used for your own lust. This commandment first calls you to view others as human beings, not as objects, but as people, people for whom Christ died, that’s the first thing. First, it calls all of us to view others as human beings. Second, then, it calls husbands and wives to a further duty: Love and honor each other.
This commandment is saying that, for the Christian, the only place where sexuality can have the chance to flourish is in the life-long marriage relationship between a man and a woman.
That is counter-cultural. Or, like I say it to our confirmands, that will make you look strange in our culture. In following this, Christians won’t look normal.
In our current American context, sexuality is almost equated with humanity. It is the essential identity, and for some, to deny a person’s sexual expression is to deny their basic humanity.
But for the Christian, sexuality is a part of who we are; our identity goes much deeper than that. We are first and foremost children of God, bought and paid for by the blood of Christ, and that stays with us for eternity. Every other identity, even those identities that are lifelong, every other identity is only for a time.
So, does that mean that Pastor Muther doesn’t understand the struggle to be sexually pure and decent? Does that mean it’s a sin to divorce someone? Does that mean my wife should submit to every one of my ideas and demands? Does that mean we are denying the humanity of those who don’t fit our mold? Come to bible study to ask the question.
In the end, for the Christian, family and marriage are important because they become the life-long picture, the life-long witness of our God’s plan for salvation. Marriage gives us a picture of the depth of God’s love. A man and a woman cleave to each other for your whole life long because it is a picture of God’s exclusive, NEVER-ending promise to be faithful to us. A husband lays down his life for his bride because Jesus laid down his life for the Church. A wife responds to that love like the church responds to Jesus, in fearless faith. In that moment, in the moment of decades and a lifetime, there, couples have the privilege to play out the drama of salvation for all to see. We see the time and the energy that it takes for a man and a woman to love each other and no others, and we realize that this is just the barest taste of God’s deep and intimate love for each and every one of us.
And there’s more. Family gives us a picture of the width of God’s love. In baptism, we are called brothers and sisters in Christ. In baptism, we become a part of a family that spans all space and all time. In baptism, we find that we inherit not just your dad’s receding hairline or your mom’s aversion to sweating outside, but we find that we inherit eternal life, that our deepest reality is shaped not by our gender, not by our struggles, not by our upbringing, but our deepest reality is shaped by the word that God chose to call you, that you are called Children of the Heavenly Father.
Amen and amen.
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