Because some Christians interpret the Bible in different ways, there are different understandings between Christians about how a Christian should perceive, react to, and teach others regarding certain activities in the world. We believe, teach, and confess that God's Word is inerrant, sufficient, and truthful.
Because the way of the Bible is not the way of our sinful desires, nor the way of other religions in the world, there are also different understandings between the Christian and the majority about how a Christians should perceive, react to, and teach others regarding those activities. We believe, teach, and confess that God, the Creator of all things, has revealed the best way for all people to live and the wrong ways for people to live.
So here you will find Bible Studies walking through why Lutherans believe what we do about the teachings of the Bible and how that effects the way we interact with the world around us. We pray this helps you better understand why we hold the positions that we do about the Bible and about society. [More Studies will be added soon]
Apart from Faith, It is Impossible to Please God
Genesis 2 Man and Woman
In Genesis 1 we see how God created everything that is: the visible and the invisible. In Genesis 2, God provides Moses – as the penman of Genesis – and us – the readers of Genesis – with a close-up of one particular day, day 6. And, let me go ahead and repeat that: Genesis 1 and 2 are not two separate accounts of two different creations; they are two perspectives on the same creation. So, chapter 1 bid us look at the big picture of the Creation, while chapter 2 calls us to look in depth into this one day, and, in particular, the creation of Man and Woman.
Now, for just a second, try to put all of the recent controversies, political issues, family feuds, and the like out of your mind. I know that our culture is embroiled with these issues of Man and Woman, male and female, husband and wife. But, for now, try to set those aside and just hear what God told Moses to write down about His Creation.
Moses was told by God at Sinai to begin by setting the stage for the lineage, the generations, of the heavens and the earth in verse 4. This is the exact same formula we'll see throughout the book of Genesis – "the generations of" – because this is how Hebrews of Moses' day tell you about their family history. "These are the generations of…" So, "Adam beget Seth, Seth beget Enosh," etc… And that’s why it's worth noting that here, before the Fall into sin, Moses begins "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth." To say that another way, "This is the way God intended all of creation to be fruitful and multiply." Keep that in mind as we go throughout this text: "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth;" "This is the way God intended all of creation to be fruitful and multiply."
Thus God continues the story to show us just how he planned us to do that. Verse 7 says, "The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." That's what Man as Man is: a living creature, composed both of a God-created body and a God-breathed spirit of life. Both flesh and spirit: body and soul. Let that also be worthy of your meditation and attention: 1) because of the number of people in our world today who seek to tell you we're only a body with no soul – no eternal – and so we'd better live it up and enjoy it while we've got it, but also 2) because of the equal number of well-meaning – but very wrong – Christians who want to tell you that the body matters for nothing and it's just some kind of shell or husk to dispose of or, some even go so far as to say, a prison for our soul that longs to be free. Both of these extremes must deny God's work here in Genesis when he purposefully and carefully crafted a body for Adam from the dust of his created earth and breathed into him the breath, or, as the Hebrew word can also be translated, the Spirit, of life. Body and Soul; Flesh and Spirit by God's plan.
Knowing that, then, that God purposefully made Adam's body the way he did, purposefully and skillfully crafted, you have to see that biological gender must matter quite a bit to the LORD. When he eventually creates Eve from Adam's side, he fashions her specifically and purposefully to fit together, to complement, the biological features he created for Adam – and, because of the omnipotence of God, we know that he also fashioned Adam, even before her creation, to purposefully and perfectly fit together, to complement, Eve. That's part of what God meant by calling Eve "a helper fit for him."
Our bodies matter to God just as much as our souls – which is exactly why, when God came down to save us, he did it by becoming flesh like us; flesh like he created from the ground for Adam. And that's exactly why, when he died for the sins of the world, he didn't stay dead, but rose WITH HIS BODY from the grave and ascended WITH HIS BODY in the flesh to the right hand of the Father. That's why, on the last day, he will raise us WITH A BODY to dwell in the flesh and spirit with him for all eternity; just as he intended for Adam and Eve in Paradise.
And that's why, in the flesh, God gives Adam the JOY of tending his perfect, beautiful Garden in a land abundantly watered and easily cared for. Man doesn't just exist in the flesh to be but to do. Work was intended to be rewarding: to look back on a day's work and smile with pride and confidence that you made a difference. If you've ever had a day like that, then you've tasted a little bit of what God intended us to know every day and every moment in the Garden. Not a burdensome, loathsome work – that comes as a result of the Fall (as we'll discuss next week) – but work that's worth it; IN THE FLESH. That was God's plan.
Now, here, in verse 18, is a massive shift in the revelation of God that you can't miss. If you want, take out a pencil or a pen or a highlighter and take note, that here, for the first time in a long line of God declaring all aspects of his creation "Good," here in verse 18 God says, "It is NOT good that the man should be alone." In all of his perfect, "good" creation, man being alone is what is not good. But, do you think that came as a surprise to the God who created him? Of course not. This is for Adam's sake to hear, and so is the parade of animals – that Adam may see and come to understand for himself that God's blessing to creation, to be fruitful and to multiply, was also his blessing to him, Adam: and Adam couldn't do that on his own. It probably doesn't take him that long to recognize the pattern: there's two of the horse kind, and one's made a little different from the other; there's two of the bear kind, and one's made a little different from the other; there's two of the songbird kind, and, well, you get the picture, and – I'm sure – Adam did, too. "It's NOT good that the man should be alone."
Yet, of all of creation, nothing else was made the way Adam's partner was made. Rather than from the dust, like every other creature, God formed Eve from Adam's side, from Adam's rib. Nothing formed of the dust would ever be able to be what Adam needed – no beast, no bird, no Man, no other creature that was formed from the dust would be able to satisfy the desire God put into Man's heart: only this special, from-his-side-crafted woman.
She, the Woman, was made perfectly and purposefully for the Man so that he could only drop his jaw and boldly exclaim, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called "from man" – which is the translation of Woman, by the way – she shall be called "from man" because she was taken out of Man." Adam had named everything else, and here he wants every generation that follows to remember every single time that they give a name to the female gender that she came by God's hand from Man. (Please, don't hear that as some kind of repressive, patriarchal degradation: it's a term of love and endearment and respect to the God who created Woman from Man. It's a reminder that it wasn't good to be alone and that God's answer to man's loneliness was a gift that was "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh": perfect and purposeful, and gift. That's why Adam wanted every generation to remember that she is Woman: she is "from Man.") So every time a man interacts with a woman, let him remember that there is one of the daughters of the one special made by God thus worthy of our respect, admiration, and thanksgiving to God. May every man so do.
Now, this whole story comes to its head, its moral, its point, in verses 24: "Therefore a Man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his Wife, and they shall become one flesh." Now, just a quick question: Did Adam have a father or mother to leave for his wife? Obviously not. So these words aren't about Adam and Eve, they're about every man and every woman that's to come, the generations to be fruitful and multiply. You find Adam and Eve in this declaration in the "Therefore." That is, because of all of this in chapter 2, "Therefore" this is God's plan and purpose and will that "a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
So, bring it all together: God intended his creation to be fruitful and multiply for generations. For Man, that meant he made him a flesh and spirit creature and then purposefully made from his flesh a special, perfectly fit for him and he for her Woman of flesh and spirit. Thus, Man and Woman, for the generations to come, were to be fruitful and multiply by leaving father and mother and reuniting the flesh of Man and Woman together as one.
Now, whatever you call that, whether you say it's Marriage, or Coupling, or Civil Union, or the nebulous Facebook-like relationship, whatever you call that, that's what God created in the beginning on Day 6. The Bible calls that Marriage. And that "Therefore" of verse 24 tells us that God's idea of Marriage is intended in the pattern of Adam and Eve for all of verse 4's "generations of the heavens and the earth," for every man and wife to follow. That's God's understanding of Marriage and you can see, plain as the Light made on day 1, that the way he made it in the beginning is how he intended it for all generations to come.
Let me add to this the words of Paul from Ephesians 5, who says, "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, AND I AM SAYING THAT IT REFERS TO CHRIST AND THE CHURCH." Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit and revealed by the revelation of God, tells us that what God spoke to Moses in the very beginning, in this chapter of Genesis we're looking at tonight, was all in light of Jesus Christ and his Bride: the Church. "Let us make man in our Image." Remember? The Man was made for his wife to be as Christ who laid down his life for the Church, and the Woman was made for her husband to be as the Church who receives that sacrificial devotion with respect and love. Paul tells us that even our Marriages were created by God in the beginning to serve as an image, a preaching, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That means that you, married couple – whether Christian or not – were intended by God to be walking, talking, living images of the Gospel of Jesus. That's huge! What a responsibility! What a blessing!
All of that is Genesis chapter 2. It's Day 6: the creation of Man and Woman, and the establishment of God's institution of Marriage: of husband and wife. I asked you earlier to put aside the political issues around this subject and just hear the text for what it is. If you were able to do that, then you have only one picture of Marriage: God's picture. And, with that, then we have to bring that message to bear on our world today. You have to, dear Christian, lest you be swept away in the current of the world and away from Christ.
So, in Nebraska, a judge just struck down the constitutional amendment that qualified an official Marriage as between "one man and one woman." We'd be the 37th state in the US to legalize so-called "gay marriage" if that decision endures the appeals (Lent 2015). We just removed the gender and marital requirements for adoption in Lincoln this week. And it wasn't that long ago that the city council tried to eliminate biological gender distinctions for things like restrooms and locker rooms. And we're in the Midwest! Add to this the continued rise of divorce – even among Christians – with the addition of this ungodly "no fault divorce," the ever-increasing occurrence of sex outside of the bonds of Marriage, Cohabitation especially among Christians, and all of the varied ways our culture attacks God's good institution of Marriage as established here in Genesis 2 and you have to admit we have a problem.
Whichever side of the political issues you may come down on, you have to see that God's Word from Genesis 2 is being either forsaken or attacked. And if it's being forsaken, shame on us Christians for not speaking up and making God's Word heard. But if it's being attacked, shame on us Christians for backing down from the fight. Either way, if you claim to believe in the God who created the world as he reveals himself in Genesis 1 and 2, now is the time to proclaim your faith to the world and so help others come to the know the God who made us and redeemed us and is coming again to give his faithful eternal life. Now's the time.
So when they say biological gender doesn't matter: it's just a human construct, you go right back here to Genesis 2 where God purposefully and perfectly fashioned Man from the earth and the Woman he perfectly and purposefully fashioned to fit together, biologically, anatomically, to the man. Gender was created by God for a reason on purpose, to be fruitful and multiply for all the generations of the world.
When they say "Love is Love" regardless of who feels it, you go right back here to Genesis 2 and, you go ahead and look back through that chapter and tell me - as the old song says – "What's love got to do with it?" This modern infatuation with love is cancerous. When we say love now, we really mean "the feeling you make me feel." It's all about me, me, me. We're using each other to feel good. And that's not real, godly, lasting love; that's abuse: that's using someone else like a drug to make you feel better. That's why they've shown sex among teens has drastically increased: because it's all about how it makes you feel. That's why, once they're married, when the feeling's gone, so many Marriages are disintegrating. But, in Genesis 2, Adam's feelings toward the Woman are of gratitude and remembrance toward God. He's not looking for what he can get out of her, what feeling she can create in him, this modern idea of so-called "Love," but it's a relationship built on worship of God. And let that be a reminder to us when our marriages begin to fade in the feelings of love, that it's truly to be about God, not me. And if you can cling to that, every single study has shown that it will actually "bring back that lovin' feeling."
True love is Christ laying down his life to forgive the sins of the world. We need more of that kind of love. And that kind of love is received by faith from a people who repent of the sins for which Jesus died – our selfish corruption of "love" being one of them – and confessing those sins to him to receive his blood-bought forgiveness. We need more of that kind of love, too. Remember, confess means "to say the same thing as," to agree with God that what he says is sin is truly sin and wrong and damaging to our lives, our relationships, and even our very souls. That's true, godly love. And that's why we can't just cover up even our sins of love under the banner of the forgiveness, or "acceptance," of Christ, but we must with him confess where we've failed to bring the "therefore" of Genesis 2:24 into our marriages for all generations.
That's what we, Bible-believing Christians are called to believe about the matter of Marriage, Man and Woman, Husband and Wife. But where our Christian homes don't even look like this Word of God, how can we expect non-Christians, or marginal sometimes Christians to know it? So, while marches and public policy overtures and working within the political system to legislate a biblical worldview have happened, and do occasionally work, the greatest way that we – as Christians – can work to change this anti-biblical culture is to live it and to teach it to our kids in our homes, in our church, in our schools, and in our communities. THERE is the place of catalyst. If we're not doing it there, it won't matter what bills pass or who you vote for.
So let us, today, make the effort to strengthen our marriages and homes. Let us, today, redouble our efforts to show our kids and our communities that Marriages are for life, for keeps, not just for the duration of our feelings. Let us, today, determine that, as parents, we'll do everything in our power to guide our kids into healthy and godly relationships that lead to godly and healthy marriages, and youth, commit this day to living your life in such a way that your future marriage will bring glory and honor to God as the image of Christ and his Church. Can you do that? May God so enable us both to will and to do by the same grace and power by which he created Adam and Eve. In Jesus' name. Amen.