The Finger of God Promotes Marriage
God has one of those big foam #1 fingers; it reads, "Marriage is Number 1!" God is all for marriage. He created it; He promotes it. From Adam's, "At last this is flesh of my flesh," to Solomon's, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing," to Jesus' gift to the Cana wedding, to Hebrew's declaring, "Let marriage be held in honor by all," to writing in stone with His own finger, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," God promotes marriage.
The world denigrates marriage. Currently 38 % of all births in the U.S. happen outside of marriage. There is no shame, no stigma attached to this. As you know, celebrities garner more attention by having these bastards. And yes that by definition is what children are outside of holy matrimony. Matrimony comes from the Latin for mother. So it could be translated "holy motherage." It's through holy matrimony that children are legitimatized.
The world thinks no. Over 40% of people live together, i.e. fornicate on a regular, public basis. Pastors marry these fornicators without repentance on the fornicator's part or their own. Parents accept these fornicators because "It's just the way things are today." Though these fornicators have gutted holy wedlock of its holiness, though they have as Hebrews says "defiled the marriage bed," though God expressly says "I will judge fornicators," they have lavish weddings and dash off to expensive honeymoons that are devoid of any mystery, magic, or holiness. Rice is thrown at them, but dung would be more fitting after the way they have profaned God's holy institution of marriage.
The world denigrates marriage and we're part of the world. We say with straight faces "non-traditional family" when we really mean gay marriage. We accept easy divorce laws. In the church I grew up in of over 1000 members, I knew of one divorce, and it was a huge deal. Then the world made you take months to get a divorce and it wasn't easy. Now, you can be divorced for any reason, and we accept this as the way it should be. In 1997, Louisiana gave couples the option of being married under the old, tougher standard of marriage. Not one couple I offered that option took it.
The truth will out. The finger of God has written holy matrimony in our hearts and even in the midst of our vile, profane, pornographic culture the truth pops up. A lesbian who writes children's books for gays with kids was asked how she came to do this. She explained that when she would say to her 2 year old, "Let's Mom, Mom and Lisa go to the park," the child would always say, "No, let's Mom, Dad, and Lisa go." A 2 year old is not as polluted with sinful insanity as a 30 year old. Likewise a new country song entitled "I Think I'm dancing with a Man," would not be popular unless at some deep level we all know that men don't and shouldn't dance with men.
Enough of beating up on others. The 1990 movie "Ghost" was about fornicators where one of them is killed. His live-in lover is devastated. My secretary in Louisiana didn't want her 14 year-old to see this PG-13 movie. The girl replied, "But mom the muggers who kill the man are shown being taken to hell." This was indeed unusual in a movie. My secretary shot back, "In reality, the live-in lover who got shot went there too."
That's the truth. Fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals are headed for hell. And not one of us can say, "Surely, not I Lord!" The finger of God in the 6th Commandment touches the sore spot, the sour spot, the filthy spot on every human heart. Quit deceiving yourself, when Paul says, "Do not be deceived neither the fornicators, adulterers, nor homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of heaven," he's talking to you.
To say the least, the world denigrates marriage, and we go along, but it is Jesus who pays the uttermost. We are so befouled by our sexual sins we can't imagine the holy life Jesus led. Every sexual temptation you've ever had and given into slyly, secretly, quickly, Jesus had, yet never gave into. Yet, He suffers as a sexual deviant, a pervert, a fornicator, a homosexual should. If you listen to talk radio, when a sexual sinner is in the news O how host and caller alike relish talking about what horrible things should happen to him. You too know righteous indignation against sexual sinners. You were with Attorney General Greg Abbott's promoting the death penalty for child molesters.
Well, look what Jesus suffers in our text. Because of the filthy jokes you tell with your mouth and listen to with your ears, Jesus is slapped on the mouth and ears. Feel the rage against the multitude of perverted sexual thoughts that race through your mind as the guards beat Jesus in the head with clubs. Feel the holy repulsion God feels against the sexual sins you have done in your body as the stinking Roman soldiers, with rotting, black teeth and foul breath spit on the innocent face of Jesus till it runs down on to His beard.
Enough already! Is it? God banished Adam and Eve, smoked Sodom and Gomorrah and all but obliterated Benjamin, a tribe of His Church, and none of that satisfied His wrath against those sexual sinners. But this does. The suffering, the bleeding, the dying of men can't satisfy God's holy wrath because we deserve it. Animal sacrifices in the temple had to be without blemish because a defective animal would be culled by a shepherd anyway. Jesus was without blemish as a Man and because His suffering, His bleeding, His dying was that of God, His pain, His blood, His death could quench the terrible wrath of God against sexual sins. Judah's incest, David's adultery, the woman's fornicating; your sexual sins all were paid for.
That just doesn't mean enough to any of you. Forgiveness is a word you expect me to say and it bounces right off the sore, soiled spot of your heart. Let me try to touch that spot. Psalm 103 says your sexual sins have been removed from you as far as east is from west. God can't see you and your sins together anymore. Micah 7 says God has thrown your sins behind His back to the bottom of the sea. Go stand on a cliff overlooking Lake Travis; throw a rock off and see if you can ever find it again. Isaiah 43 says God blotted your sexual sins out of His memory; the Body of Jesus was the sponge He used. Isaiah 44 says that as the sun completely burns off the morning mist, so surely has God the Son done away with your sins forever.
Only Jesus paying the uttermost for our sins against marriage can quench God's wrath and free us to look positively at marriage and sexuality. It's not a matter of you disciplining or punishing yourself. The monks tried that and failed. It takes a miracle to free from sexual addiction. And that's what we all are. That's how come Freud, Hollywood, and popular culture can reduce everything to being about sex. In our sexuality is where our falseness, our sinfulness, our being separated from God first showed up. Adam and Eve didn't immediately put on fig leaves because they were suddenly cold. No, their beautiful, holy nakedness suddenly became shameful, uncontrollable and dirty to them. So they covered it.
In marriage, through Christ it can be safely, sacredly, and satisfyingly uncovered again. Even apart from marriage through Christ sexuality can be viewed positively, as a blessing not a curse, as sacred not profane, as satisfying not frustrating. Since nothing on earth can redeem you, it should not surprise you that nothing on earth can redeem marriage or sexuality: not therapy, not drugs, and most of all not giving yourself up to sexual urges as if they were just another bodily function, no more sacred or significant then eating or eliminating waste. No redemption is a divine work, an act of God in Christ. To Him we flee for freedom from our profanity, pornography, adultery, homosexuality, and misplaced sexuality.
Sexual sins leave us particularly feeling dirty because as Paul says every other sin a person commits happens outside of the body. Sexual sins are in our very own bodies, and they leave a dirtiness we can sense. Peter feels this same way in our text. In the Old Testament unfaithfulness to God was often spoken of as adultery, immorality, fornicating. Peter in his base denials of Jesus feels soiled, defiled, dirty the same way our sexual sins leave us feeling. Furthermore, can't you see him trying to resist his sin with all the willpower, ardor, intensity you try to resist sexual temptation?
As Jesus explicitly warns you of sexual sins, so did Jesus warn Peter of denying. And rather than avoid the circumstance where he would fall, like we do Peter put himself where temptation would be the worst. And just as our sexual temptations usually come on us suddenly and sweetly, so the maiden does. Peter denies, and then he is determined he won't do it again. He, like you, tries to get away from the temptation, but just like the "Devil in Blue Jeans" or "Somebody's Knocking" he runs into the maid again, and again he falls. Now he's in despair. Now he's fearful of the depths of his own sinfulness, so when confronted by temptation again he really gives in. In for a penny in for a pound. Just like you: what's the point? You can't resist. The Devil always wins. Who cares?
But you do care, and the rooster crowing shows it. He's the 6th Commandment and his harsh sound pokes your lustful, profane, base heart. No salvation there though. No repentance yet. Just shame, grief, despair. It's the look of Jesus that brings repentance, grace and Gospel. This word for "look" is special. It means a reproving, yet loving, winning look.
Peter stands before the Lord as you stand before the mirror. You're disgusted by the sexual sinner you see, but that brings you only self-loathing and despair, not repentance. Peter comes face to face with a bloody faced, swollen face, spat upon, beat upon Jesus. And unlike your face in the mirror which says, "Look what you've done," Jesus looks upon him with a "come home" look; an "all is forgiven" look; an "I'm looking upon you with favor and giving you peace" look.
Your tears will never quench your lust; Jesus tears will. Spitting on the image in the mirror will not put out the fire of sexual desire; spit running down the face of Jesus for you will. Punishing yourself, hurting yourself until you bleed will not cool down the flames of deviant sexuality in the fallen heart; but the blood Jesus shed for you will. The finger of God promotes holy matrimony and sacred sexuality by pointing those who've sinned against the 6th commandment to their Savior. Amen
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church Austin, Texas
Lenten Vespers (20080220); 6th Commandment; Passion Reading III