The Days of Our Lives, Part 1

days

In America today, the largest demographic group is the Millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000.  As near as we can tell, there are upwards of 80 million of them, and not all of them are living in their parent’s basement, although many are.

In addition to that curious characteristic, here are a few things that characterize Millennials:

  • They are the most educated demographic in Western history;
  • They are technologically savvy, with mobile tech their passion;
  • They are civics oriented;
  • They are “conscious capitalists;”
  • They are less patriotic and more global in their thinking;
  • They are entrepreneurial;
  • They “pragmatic idealists,” believing in making their “dreams come true.”
  • They are socially liberal;
  • They are team players;
  • They are waiting much longer to get married;
  • They are non-religious but spiritual.

When we “baby boomers” understand how Millennials think and how they view their world, the things they say on YouTube and Twitter, how they vote, and why they don’t go to church make all the sense in the world.  As Christians, we need to understand something else:  The Bible speaks to the needs of Millennials, as it does to every other demographic.

Millennials, marriage, divorce, and the single life

Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If that is how it is, it is better not to marry!”  “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps.  Some are born without the ability to marry, and some are disabled by men, and some refuse to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone who can, accept my statement.”  (Matthew 19:10 – 12  | TLB) 

Jesus had been talking to some Pharisees about marriage and divorce.  As was their style, these religious types had asked Jesus some tricky questions in order to trip Him up.  But they were not prepared for this Jesus’ full-throttled endorsement of marriage.  It came about like this:

Some Pharisees came to interview him and tried to trap him into saying something that would ruin him. “Do you permit divorce?” they asked.  “Don’t you read the Scriptures?” he replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman, and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife. The two shall become one – no longer two, but one! And no man may divorce what God has joined together.”   (Matthew 19:3 – 5 | TLB) 

The Pharisees belied their view of marriage in the question they asked Jesus.  To them, marriage and divorce were a matter of legislation; to them it was about the law of the land.  But Jesus set them straight by taking them to the origin of marriage:  the Bible, and in particular, He went back to the very beginning, the book of Genesis.  While the Pharisees expected Jesus to talk about Deuteronomy and the law of Moses,  Jesus’ view of marriage predated Moses and was connected to the creation of man by God.  By our Lord’s reckoning, marriage is not the product of a particular culture or of a society’s evolution, but a creation of God Himself for man. 

And this is what Millennials, and in particular Christian Millennials, need to understand.  Marriage is based on the fact the God created “them” male and female, and “on that account” (KJV) of that, a man leaves his parents and shall become literally “glued” to his wife.  That’s a truth so subtle, most Bible readers miss it.  A man leaves home primarily to become forever (in life, anyway) attached to and identified with a woman!

But Jesus goes even further by indicating that no human being can break the bond between a man and woman that God Himself has created.  The implication of verse 5 is that any man who divides what God has, by His own creation joined together,  not only divides up two people, but he separates those two people from God’s will.  And that’s a serious thing!

Marriage is serious, but the Jews of Jesus’ day didn’t think so.  They, not the Americans, were the first to make divorce easy.  Originally, God’s concession to His people was that a divorce was permitted only on account of adultery.  But by now, a man could get a divorce for just about any reason.  Jesus, now talking to His disciples, said this:

Jesus replied, “Moses did that in recognition of your hard and evil hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.  And I tell you this, that anyone who divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.”  (Matthew 19:8, 9 |TLB) 

Jesus isn’t teaching His disciples about divorce, but about the serious, spiritual nature of marriage.  The disciple’s view of marriage, like that of Millennials of today, was shaped by their society.  They couldn’t get their minds wrapped around what the Bible really said about the issue.  What they said to Jesus proved that they didn’t yet have a Biblical worldview, but a secular worldview.  Essentially, their argument to Jesus was this:  If adultery is the only charge a husband can bring against his wife, isn’t it better to just stay single?  Making a statement like that shows that the disciples still thought that their societal norms carried more weight than the Bible and God’s will.  It wasn’t that the disciples were against marriage, but that they were reluctant to give up the Jewish ease of getting rid of a wife.  This whole exchange gave Jesus the chance to exalt marriage in order to show the seriousness of it.  Being in a committed marriage relationship is God’s plan for most people since the days of Creation, and the only way that happens is with the help of God:  “Only those whom God helps…”

Millennials and purity 

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins people commit are outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  (1 Corinthians 6:18 – 20 | TNIV) 

This is good advice for people of almost any age, but especially for Millennials.  In Paul’s day, Corinth had the deserved reputation of having a very immoral culture.  It was full of prostitutes and sex was a part of the local religious worship services.  Paul had become known as the preacher of the Gospel of freedom, and here’s how that sounded to the Corinthians:

You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  (1 Corinthians 6:13 |TNIV) 

Paul was the master at theological tight rope walking.  He had written to another congregation this:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  (Galatians 5:1 | TNIV) 

But that freedom FROM sin didn’t mean freedom TO sin.  To the Corinthians who were concerned about what kinds of food to eat, freedom in matters of what to have for supper did not equal freedom to pursue immorality.  Which, apparently, was happening.  In verse 13, Paul quoted a saying that was popular in Corinth:  “Food for the stomach and stomach for the food, and God will destroy them both.”   Even though God is mentioned, this saying is about as far from Biblical reality as you can get.  That saying equates something temporal – food – with something permanent – the body.  The body is permanent in that at some point in the future, it will be resurrected.  The Corinthians had a misunderstanding of the resurrection, which the apostle addresses in depth in chapter 15.  But for now, he barely hints at it by linking their ignorance of Christian resurrection to their treatment of the human body.  The body, contrary to what the Corinthian Christians thought, is just as eternal as the spirit and the soul, and therefore it should be treated as something of infinite value. 

Unfortunately, the secular view of the body prominent in Corinth found a home in the church.  That tendency to view the body as unimportant was behind three separate issues Paul addressed in this letter:

  • A immoral member of their congregation involved in a heinous sexual sin, 5:1 – 13;
  • Lawsuits among believers, 6:1 – 11;
  • Sexual relations with prostitutes, 6:12 – 20.

Paul’s overriding point in these three separate issues is that a Christian can’t do what he wants with his body.  Each of the three issues he dealt with involved serious immorality.  The Christian was set free, but that freedom had nothing to do with getting involved with any kind of immorality, sexual or otherwise. 

Millennials tend to think a lot like the Corinthian Christians.  They are not in church and a lot of them have never been exposed to the teachings of Scripture and are therefore unaware of what it really says about issues, in this case, the issue of the human body as it relates to  moral purity.  “It’s my body, it’s my choice,” is the rallying cry of the Millennials.  And yet it isn’t.  Verse 15 drives home a point:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!  (1 Corinthians 6:15 | TNIV) 

In the context of this chapter, this verse makes it clear that union with a prostitute incompatible with the unity that exists between the Christian and Christ.  Immorality has a dreadful, real effect on the Christian that it doesn’t have on the non-Christian because the Christian has been united to Christ, but having sexual relations with a prostitute unites that Christian to her!

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  (1 Corinthians 6:16 | TNIV) 

The Corinthians and Millennials, and indeed Christians from all age groups, need to understand that the unity achieved by any immoral sexual union is greater than they imagine.  It’s not just a physical union but a spiritual one.

But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  (1 Corinthians 6:17 | TNIV) 

A born again Christian is in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ – it’s a comprehensive union of both spirit and body.  The material and spiritual are one in this relationship, which is why immorality is a sin against the body and against God because the body is the temple of the Spirit and has been bought by the blood of Christ.  Therefore, nobody – no Corinthian and no Millennial – is free to do what he wants to with his body.

The ultimate purpose of the body is to manifest the character and person of God, not one’s own lusts.

 

 

 

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