Man-wife-children families are temporary blessings for this age. In the age to come, they will not exist (Matt. 22:23-30). But the church will exist as family forever. This has profound implications for how singles and married people think about each other and relate to each other.
And when his own mother and brothers asked to see Him, Jesus said, ” ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, the said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Matt.22:30). Jesus is turning everything around. Yes, he loved his mother and his brothers. But those are all natural and temporary relationships. He did not come into the world to focus on that. He came into the world to call out a people for his name from all the families of the earth into a new family where single people in Christ are full-fledged members on a par with all others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind.
“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” a woman cried out to Jesus. And he turned and said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28) The mother of God is the obedient Christian – married or single! Take a deep breath and reorder your world.
Single person, married person, do you want children, mothers, brothers, sisters, lands? Renounce the primacy of your natural relationships and follow Jesus into the fellowship of the people of God. (see Mark 10:29-30)
Marriage and singleness both present us with unique trials and unique opportunities for our sanctification – our preparation for heaven. There will be unique rewards for each. Which is greater will not depend on whether you were married or single, but how you responded to each.
Physical reality is good. God made it as a revelation of his glory. And he intends for us to sanctify it and worship him with it – that is, to see it in relation to him and to use it in a way that makes much of him and, in doing so, gives us joy. Knowing this protects is from idolizing sex and food as gods. They are not gods; they are made my God to honor him. And it protects us from fearing sex and food as evil. They are not evil; they are instruments of worship – they are ways to make much of Christ.
When a person marries – a man for example – and takes his sexual desire, and he does the same thing with it that we all do with physical desires if we would make them means of worship: 1. he brings it into conformity to God’s word; 2. he subordinates it to a higher pattern of love and care; 3. he transposes the music of physical pleasure into the music of spiritual worship, 4. he listens for the echoes of God’s goodness in every nerve;5. he seeks to double his pleasure by making her joy his joy; and 6. he gives thanks to God from the bottom of his heart because he knows and he feels that he never deserved one minute of this pleasure.
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). If you are afraid of hospitality – that you don’t have much personal strength or personal wealth – good. Then you won’t intimidate anybody. You will depend all the more on God’s grace. You will look all the more to the work of Christ and not your own work. And what a blessing people will get in your simple home or your little apartment.
When sex proceeds from faith, it is not a sin. Guard sexual relations in marriage by not doing anything that does not come from faith.
Sin is what you feel and think and do when you are not taking God at his word and resting in his promises.
What we are doing [in bed] is not dirty – 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
[Piper tells a story of a couple in which the man had a sinful physical past before marrying his wife]. They [the married couple] came eventually to a satisfying sexual relationship because they worked at it openly in constant prayer and reliance on the grace of God. They talked about all their feelings. They kept nothing bottled up. They trusted each other and helped each other, and they found their way to peace and sexual harmony and, above all, new dimensions of God’s grace. Christ died not only that in him we might have guilt-free sexual relations in marriage, bit also that he might then, even through our scars, convey to us some spiritual good.
For the people God leads into marriage, sexual relations are a God-ordained means of overcoming temptation to sin (the sin of adultery, the sin of sexual fantasizing, the sin of pornography).Faith humbly accepts such gifts and offers thanks.
Marriage at its exquisite peak of pleasure speaks powerfully the truth of covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. And that love is the most powerful force in the world. It is not surprising then that Satan’s defeat, Christ’s glory, and our pleasure should come together in this undefiled marriage bed.
Marriage is for making children into disciples of Jesus. Here the focus shifts. This purpose of marriage is not merely to add more bodies to the planet. The point is to increase the number of followers of Jesus on the planet.
- The father has a leading responsibility in bringing the children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- Nevertheless, both mother and father are called to do this together.
- It is important that mother and father be united in this effort.
- The most fundamental task of a mother and a father is to show God to the children.
- God has ordained that both mother and father be involved in raising the children because they are husband and wife before they are mother and father.
The deepest meaning of marriage – displaying the covenant love between Christ and the church – is underneath this other meaning of marriage – making children disciples of Jesus. It is all woven together. Good marriages make good places for children to grow up and see the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love.”