Todd continues the series "Declaration: a divine proposal for life, liberty, and happiness" by spending two weeks looking at marriage and the divine institution of the family. Here, in Part 1, he charges married couples and, specifically, men in leading their marriages for the welfare of their wife and children and the benefit of our society and world.

Scripture References: Malachi 2 , 1 Corinthians 6 , Matthew 19 , Proverbs 9 , Psalms 128 , Proverbs 3 , Proverbs 14

Todd Wagner

About Todd Wagner

In 1999, a group of friends and I desired to be the same awe-inspiring community that we saw in the Scriptures and to connect God's people with opportunities to know... Read more

Message Transcript
Good morning. Welcome, Dallas. Welcome, Fort Worth. Welcome, Plano. We are glad to all be together underneath the sovereign and kind decree of God, where he has declared to us that if we want to find life, true freedom, and an existence that could only be described as happy… We sometimes dismiss happiness as if it's something really truly spiritual people should not have any concern for, and we elevate joy. And rightly so. We don't want to be people who are only concerned with happenings circumstantially, because we understand, in a world broken by sin and death, there are going to be some happenings where it does not go well with us no matter _how_ we live. So we are to have a deep, abiding joy. Your hope and your strength is not limited to happenings; it is limited by your right and correct understanding of God. That being said, God doesn't want you to add to the sin and death in the world by your own stupidity and sowing to that which is going to reap destruction. In fact, the very first words out of God's mouth when he proclaimed that hope had come, recorded in the gospel of Matthew, were "Blessed are those…" That word _blessed_ is not the word for speak well of. He's not saying, "I will speak well of those who are poor in spirit." He's saying, "Do you want to be happy? Do you want to have a blessed life? Then understand that left to your own broken, fallen spirit, if you do what seems right to you, it will not go well with you. I am here to save you from sin, which has separated you from me, to draw you back into relationship with me and, as you live in relationship with me, to restore you to the life you can only find in me as the author and creator of it, and then you'll have true freedom." Freedom is not the freedom to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it without consequence. That doesn't exist. When you are a finite, mortal creature, you cannot determine your future no matter what you do. God has put some fixed, inviolable laws in our natural world and our spiritual world. Sometimes he supernaturally interrupts natural law for the purpose of revealing his nature, his character, and his goodness, and sometimes grace interrupts our natural inclination toward evil, but what is normal is that you will reap what you sow. Jesus came and said, "I want you to be happy. I want you to not bring more sin and death into your life, so walk with me." You'll find again and again, every time God reveals himself, there is a purpose assigned to it. Are you ready for the purpose? "So that it might go well with you." He is a loving God and a loving Father, and he wants it to go well with you. This series _Declaration_ is God declaring to us his divine proposal. He's saying, "Listen. You're free to do what you want to do. You're not free to choose your circumstances, but I might propose to you a better way than you're currently living in, that you could find life, _real_ life." Jesus said, "I have come that you might find life and that you might have life abundantly." "Blessed. Happy. That you might be truly free. Not to be obligated by your finite, broken spirit of rebellion but that you might be informed by the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of life, the Spirit of Christ, that you would have true liberty, liberty to not give yourself over to death, and that you would experience happiness. It's only going to happen through me." It's going to happen today that our world will be preserved from decay and darkness when the people Jesus has saved from darkness proclaim his excellencies to others, and that is the purpose of this series. I've mentioned to you before we're not here just to wring our hands and talk about how bad things have gotten. This is an amazing time to be a Christian. If you live in America today, it is about as exciting a time as living in the eighteenth century when we were trying to break free from the oppressive reign of King George. Now we're trying to break free from the oppressive reign of "King Self" that is destroying our country. We need prophets and statesmen and declarationers who will help people understand where real liberty and freedom can come from. So we are here to equip you. I am here to make a case, if you're a visitor with a friend here today, to tell you where you can find life, and it's in Jesus. We are making a proposal. God is not here to impose his will on you. There is a day that his sovereignty _will_ accomplish its purposes and he _will_ impose his righteous decree on all men, living and dead, and those who want nothing to do with him…he will grant that wish forever. I've said it before; I'm going to say it again. Don't tell me if you go to hell, at least you'll be there with all your friends. Don't tell me you'll be down there with AC/DC and whoever else, rocking with the Devil. No, you won't. Music is God's gift. You can distort it to propagate evil and rebellion, but music is God's gift, and when he puts you someplace where there is nothing that will remind you of him, you'd better take music out of your equation. You go, "Well, I'll be down there with all of the rebels, and we'll just be having a wild orgy, and we'll just numb ourselves with the pleasure of sex." No, you won't. Sex is God's gift. You can use sex to be destructive or you can use sex in a way that will bring blessing that he intends, but when you get to hell there will be no option to use anything that will remind you of God, so you can just chuck sex right out of the equation in hell. There will be no drugs. There will be no alcohol. There will be no party. Celebrations and parties are God's idea. It's part of what exists in the midst of true and deep, abiding joy and pleasure. Drugs are God's gifts that, used properly, allow us to minimize suffering related to sickness and illness and even, as he has furthered our advancement and understanding, to help us through surgical procedures and other things to correct the body that is bent toward death. So whatever you think is going to happen in hell, you'd better take drugs out of the equation. Friends, music, sex, drugs…gone. What God is going to tell you right now is "I want to tell you how to use friends, sex, music, drugs, and life _today_, that you might begin to have life abundantly." If you know Jesus, this is your hell; it's never going to get worse than this, but if you don't know God and you reject his proposal for life, then you'd better get it on, baby, because this is as good as it's ever going to get. If you have been living apart from God and trying to numb yourself with momentary pleasures or deaden your pain through prescription meds or some other drug use or anything else, you know this isn't much of a way to get along. So I'm inviting you to life, and I'm inviting you to be a declarationer with me. I mentioned to the church it's our job to not just sit here and wring our hands but to pray for leaders and all who are in authority. How are you doing, church? Are you praying for our land and for our leaders? We're going to spend a Sunday here in a couple of weeks doing just that. We're going to declare before God our need to repent as a people and what we want to see happen in the land, consistent with his will. Are you purifying your own life? Are you a source of hope? Are you a city set on a hill? Are you a life that has been sanctified and set free from the sin and death that is in the world that others are attracted to, and are you proclaiming to people the source of your life and your hope? Are folks coming to you and, when they see your regenerated life, demanding that you give an explanation for your marriage, your familial relationships, your generosity, your purity, your ability to discipline yourself and not give yourself over to that which all the world is giving itself to? You're enjoying college sports, not being a slave to them, having your emotional state go up and down based on how last weekend went. How are you doing? Are you proclaiming to others the real source of your life, liberty, and happiness? Last week, I told you the very first thing you should do is save yourself. You should repent. You should come to God yourself if you don't know him, but then I said you have to share with others. This was the application last week: share the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation for people in our land. We don't have a political problem in this land, just like you don't have a marital problem. We have a spiritual problem in our country, just like if you have a relational problem in your marriage, you have a spiritual problem. Are you sharing the gospel? Who did you share Christ with this week? That is the key to the next election, the next government. That is the key to the next marriage: people having an abundant and right relationship with God. Are you speaking the truth or are you shrinking back? Are you wanting to get along with everybody and never say something that may cause them to think and even offend them as you interrupt their running toward evil? Do you speak the truth with gentleness and reverence? Are you speaking the truth? Do you know the truth? When you open your mouth, do the words of God come out? Do you stand firm when you're criticized, attacked, or challenged or do you go, "You know what? I just don't want to be that guy. I don't want to be a prophet. I want to be a politician. I want to find out what the world needs and just get along, take polls, figure out what they want me to do"? Then woe be to us. I'm going to have to talk about something today you just can't even believe I have to talk about, as we talk about how we can find true life and happiness. I pray that as you listen to me and as you become equipped you will speak and you will stand firm and you will share the hope we have, that you will be saved yourself, that you will amend your ways and redirect your course. Here's what the Scripture says in Proverbs 9:12: **"If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it."** We live in a large congregation called the _United States of America_. We are united with one another. We are all going to suffer when the majority starts to lean too far one direction. The boat is going to tip, but even in the midst of that boat tipping, we can find purpose and meaning and joy and life and do our job, and, frankly, it just becomes more exciting. God doesn't want there to be prophetic death. He doesn't want to see his people suffer. He wants his people to influence folks toward righteousness and life, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. So off we go. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself and your family. It'll make a difference in your community. It'll make a difference in your county. It'll make a difference in your state. It'll make a difference, potentially, in your country and in this world, and that's what God wants, because he loves people. Our job is to be wise and not to scoff at what God has said. Proverbs 14:34 talks about how righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace and a source of pain to any people. _Sin_, rightly defined, is that which is outside of the will of God, and what is the will of God is that it might go well with you. So whenever you're choosing anything less than God's will and way, mark my words: though the sentence against an evil deed may not be executed quickly, it's just a matter of time before sowing to rebellion reaps destruction, and God doesn't want that to be the case. We're going to talk about several things related to where happiness can be found. This week we're going to talk about marriage. I'll tell you what I'm going to do next week. It has relationship with the way you handle money, delayed gratification, and how you view economic wisdom. That's what's coming next week, individually and corporately. But today we're talking about marriage and family. Last week I mentioned 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 9 and 12. I want to read it to you again. This is another way of coming at God's desire for you to know who he is that it might go well with you. It says in verse 9, **"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?"** What's the _kingdom of God_? It is the place where his will is done on earth as it is in heaven or his will is done, period. It's a place of shalom. It is an inter-emotional, outward, physical, personal, spiritual peace and joy and abiding goodness. He's just saying you're not going to have that experience if you are deceived. If you're a fornicator, if you use sex in a way that is just a tool to bring pleasure to you, outside of all the declaration of the proper use of it with others, with one…male with female, female with male…in a lifelong, committed relationship, it's not going to go well with you. He's saying that's just the way it is. "Idolaters, if you try and find life apart from me, it's not going to go well with you. Adulterers, if you say you love one other person for life in a monogamous relationship but you take it outside of that, it won't go well with you. Effeminate…" When you have a culture that is not led by men… It might be males, it might be a culture that calls them _purple penguins_, but if they're not _men_, it will not go well with you. The feminization of America and the hatred toward the male species in general is not working out well for us. It says homosexuals, thieves, covetous people, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers are not going to have shalom. If you're here this morning and you just saw yourself in one of those previous descriptions, God is not mad at you. He loves you, and he wants to say, "Would you just come home? Let me heal you. Let me restore what has been lost." This room is made up of fornicators, covetous people, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, effeminate guys in the past, homosexuals in the past, people who were all deceived. We were all deceived, and God, in his kindness, crashed through and brought us life. That's verse 11. This is the church. **"Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable."**"So I'm going to find the way that leads to life, liberty, and happiness." Now what's amazing is that we have to talk about the family unit. There are three divine institutions God has given us that he says are necessary for a society to operate in a healthy and fully functioning way. One is _government_ (I'm going to work backward), which is there to protect men from evil and to prosecute evil and to use the sword when necessary. So many people misunderstand God's command to us individually, which is to be loving, reconcilers, individuals who turn the other cheek, who are filled with kindness and grace, with the role of government, which is to prosecute evil and to have the sword so it might bring fear to evildoers, domestically and, as necessary, internationally. That's why, when I speak to my friends in the military, I start by saying, "Hello, fellow ministers of the gospel of peace," because that's exactly what the Scripture says. Now, God is not going to bless an unrighteous army, but that's another talk for another day. If you're interested, I did a whole message on this called _War, What's it Good For?_ It's available to you. Go check it out. The second institution that is to inform what righteousness looks like in the state is the _church_. It is to remind people of truth. It is to rebuke people when they drift from truth so they don't lose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is to train up fathers and mothers. It is to teach children in concert with fathers and mothers so the land might experience liberty, freedom. In our Constitution, there is what is called the _establishment clause_, where our Constitution says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Congress should never establish a formal state religion. We should be free from our government telling us what we should worship. But our forefathers, in their wisdom, understood the day you get a land that says that land should not be influenced by religion, that land will be in trouble. When the church stops doing its job, when the priests aren't a source of blessing, declaration, and reminder to people, you will find that land in a spiral of destruction. So God is going to need to raise up prophets, and the church is going to need to be the true church in order to save it. The last institution is the _family unit_, and the purpose of the family unit is to educate, provide, love, and direct, to train up children in the way they should go so when they are old they should not depart from it. The reason I'm doing this message is I'm trying to equip you, Mom and Dad, and you, follower of Christ, single and free. As a part of the church, we have a job to remind and rebuke and restore so our government will lead in a way that will lead to blessing. As citizens of this country, we are supposed to seek the welfare of the city we live in. What's amazing is we have a government that has gone awry because we have a church that has been silent and bastardized and compromised, and the family unit is disintegrating. It is no surprise, then, that we are where we are in 2014. Take a look at what Malachi says in chapter 2. We're going to hang out in chapter 2 of Malachi for a little bit. I want you to see what he's doing in wrapping up the very first part of the book of Malachi. I did an entire series on the book of Malachi, where I talk about the teaching tool in Malachi is that there are people who say one thing and God says another, and they're missing each other. In fact, I titled it _God Is from Mars, We Are from Venus_, because just like men and women (that great book by John Gray, _Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus_)… When Martians speak to Venusians, they both think they're saying the same thing, but they miss each other. That's exactly what was happening with God and his people. The priests didn't understand how they weren't fulfilling all that God wanted them to do, and God, in chapter 1 through chapter 2, is telling the priests, "This is why you're missing it. You think I want outward religion. You think I want just rote performance, and you think how your heart is engaged in that performance doesn't matter to me. It completely matters to me. It's always about the heart. A broken heart and a contrite spirit I've yet to deny. I don't want outward, superficial relationships. I don't want you, as a secondary thought, to buy me flowers on the way home. I want you to love me. I want to have a relationship with you, and I want the sacrifices you bring to be an expression of your love. Don't think you can cut a goat's head off, split a bull, throw it up on my altar, and walk away, and now you've done your obligation as my lover. No." This is what he says: **"For the lips of a priest…"** This is what the job of the church is. **"…should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth…"** We are a kingdom of priests. Gang, are you preserving knowledge, and are individuals in our land seeking instruction from your mouth because you have purified yourself, set yourself apart? Your life is defined by freedom, fullness, abundance, joy, and happiness. It goes well with you and your family. Your marriage is distinguished. Your kids are a blessing. Is that your story? If not, this book of Malachi is not for Israel 3,000 years ago; it's for us today. It's a prophetic word, saying, "Come on, priests. You are to be declarationers, and when men listen to you, they should seek instruction from you, because you are an _aggelos_, a messenger of the Lord of Hosts." **"But as for you…"** Here's the problem. **"…you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi** [the priestly tribe] **…"** America's problem is a church problem, because the church… Not just guys in pulpits like me (and Lord knows that's a problem in our country) but because men who don't follow God and don't speak truth are not raising up truth-tellers and people who are being transformed by truth, so they go out in the culture, and there is absolutely no difference in their lives and no readiness to do what God wants us to do, and that's how you get America today. Drop down to verse 13. This is one of the first places it shows up. He says, **"This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the** **Lord** **with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand."** When I taught the Sunday after 9/11… It happened on a Tuesday, and when I taught that following Sunday, I warned us that even though America ran to churches… That's where we ran. We didn't run to Freethought Society seminars. We didn't run to Harvard. We didn't turn on Oprah. We ran to God, and we cried, and we lamented. We said, "We will never forget." What we were never to forget is that God is the source of life, not that some men had brought incredible sadness to us. We have forgotten God. We covered our churches with tears, and churches were full like Easter Sunday, but then things got well with us again, and we started to back off. God is going to fill churches again, and he's going to have altars filled with tears, but for some it's going to be too late. He's just not going to be impressed with your tears. He's saying, "Right now is the day to weep over your sin and your inclination to not need me." He says, "I no longer regard the offering or accept it with favor from your hand." You say, "For what reason, God? I thought we were doing what you wanted us to do." Verse 14 says, **"Because the** **Lord** **has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit."** That's a very difficult little section to translate, but what he's basically saying is "You don't dismiss the covenant of marriage easily if you have the Spirit of God in you. You don't redefine marriage, you don't redefine family, because I am the author and giver of life, and when you start to jack with what I give you it will not go well with you." **"And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring?"** In other words, "You want it to go well with you? You want your kids to be strong? Then you'd better do it my way." **"'Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of hosts. 'So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.'"** God is just going to say to us, "Make sure you don't jack with one of the institutions I have given you. Don't have a corrupted, perverted, weak, non-truth-telling, liberal church, don't have a government that calls evil good and good evil, and don't you dare try and trifle with what I created to be that which propagates children, trains children, blesses children, and informs the next generation of government. Don't you dare jack with that and think it's not going to cost you." He says when you disregard the wife of your youth, you cover your garment with violence, because when a man would get married, one of the things they would do was they would take their garment off, and as a symbol, they would put their garment over their wife, and then later they would slash her emotionally, physically, relationally, and it would be like cutting and destroying that which is yours. That's exactly what you're doing. You're men of blood, and God says, "I will not take that lightly." The Scripture nowhere says that God hates divorcees. The reason God is putting this verse in there is he loves people who are covering garments with violence. He wants you to stop so he can correct your course and it can begin to go well with you. Some people say, "Well, Jesus never really talked about marriage. He doesn't really ever say this is wrong." Let me just tell you, that is so uninformed. In Matthew 19, some people came to Jesus and asked, "Can a man divorce his wife for any reason at all?" He's answering the question about divorce in general, and in verse 4, Jesus said, **"Have you not read…"** Have you not gone back and found out where blessing can be found? God, your loving Father, has spoken to you. Listen to him. **"…** [God] **having created from the beginning 'made them male and female…'"** They are distinct. They are equal in glory, equal in value, but they are different. They're not the same. **"'… for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and**[cleave]**to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? […] What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."** What's implied here is if you _do_ separate them, it will not go well with you. If you redefine what marriage is, it will not go well with you. Right now over in our children's area they're going through the characteristic of discernment. The key verse for them this month is, **"Trust in the** **Lord** **with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."** That's Proverbs 3:5-6. What's going to happen is when we stop trusting in the Lord on how you define family, the purpose of family, how God intends a family to operate, with two equal-in-glory and equal-in-value individuals who have distinct roles and responsibilities, it will not go well with you. What we have is a land that has, for a long time, professed to be wise and know better than God how to order a family, but they have become fools. God intends the family of people who know him to be so set apart that others go, "How do we get what you guys have? How do you get the kind of family reunion that isn't just some dysfunctional gathering? How do we get kids who love each other, who love their parents, moms and dads who are a blessing to the end? How do you say no to sexual temptation? How do you not get divorced but stay truly together and pursue oneness, creating security and blessing in the home?" Psalm 128. It's another message I've given. It really is the psalm of happiness. It's a psalm that says, "I want you to be happy." I'm going to read it to you. It's one of the songs the nation of Israel was supposed to sing as it made its way up three times a year to the city of Jerusalem. As they made their way up there, celebrating and singing of God and his direction and revelation in their lives that they subscribed to, the family would be going to worship God, to acknowledge that God is good, and they would be experiencing the covenantal blessings of knowing that God is good, living according to his ways. This is one of the songs they sang. **"How blessed** [happy] **is everyone who fears the** **Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house…"** Guys, how is that going? Is she embittered, cold, distant? Is there no George Strait "You look so good in love" on her right now? That's because you don't know Jesus. You are not walking with or abiding with Jesus if you _do_ know him. That man who doesn't read his Bible, abide with his Bible, pray, get on his knees, and be broken brings destruction in his family, and you will not have a fruitful vine. She won't be looking to reproduce with you. She, frankly, doesn't want to live with you, and everybody who sees her knows that. "That is dry land, and she is ready for me to swoop in, whisper a little sweet nothing in her ear, and your vine I will replant in my bed." But you find a woman who's loved, you find a woman who is cherished and honored by a guy who is selfless, filled with the Spirit of Christ, she has no need. She is a fruitful vine. **"…your children like olive plants…"** A source of industry and strength and blessing and joy around your table. **"Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the** **Lord."** Then it goes almost corporate here, congregationally. That kind of guy? The whole body will say, **"The** **Lord** **bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!"** What they're saying is, "May God reproduce your kind." "When you live that way, love that way, may God make more of you, because if there's more of you we'll have a strong community, a strong church of people who fear the Lord and love God and live rightly, and the world is going to see the beauty and the wisdom of that, and it's going to form a land that's going to be filled with people who govern righteously, and it's going to be a time of great blessing." But you start jacking with that, you start saying, "We don't need a mommy and a daddy," you start saying a daddy can leave mommy to go get what he wants somewhere else, and it will not go well with the land. This is why this redefinition of marriage thing is huge, because marriage has never been purposed by God to be the place that exists for your sexual satisfaction. That's not the purpose of marriage. It is one of the joys and delights of marriage. God loves that in a marriage. He celebrates it. Read the book of Song of Solomon. He's there cheering them on. He's saying, "Dig in, O lovers. That's what I'm talking about. Have at it. Way to go. Make children. Maybe you _won't_ get pregnant. It's still fun, isn't it? That's because I love you. You go, girl, and you go, guy." That's Song of Solomon. God is no prude. Read that book. It'll make you blush. When the family is operating like it should, it does bring blessing in the land, and it is a good thing. So what I want to do is spend a little time and talk to you about why marriage matters. I looked at a lot of stuff this week. There are more things I looked at this week than almost any other message I've ever given at Watermark. I had a stack of stuff _this_ deep I read. That's stuff I copied and printed off. I read a ton more. I think I'm up to 88 pages I printed off. I was just rereading condensation of my notes, and I'm trying to figure out what _not_ to do. One of the guys I think is serving our country as well as anybody is a gentleman by the name of Ryan Anderson. Ryan co-wrote a book with a guy who was part of the Manhattan Declaration with some others and me about four or five years ago. Robbie George, Ryan Anderson, and another gentleman wrote a book called _What Is Marriage?_ They really want you to understand why this stuff matters. I want to just share with you a little bit more extensively than normal from some of the things Ryan says. I pulled this from a copy of a speech he gave to the Indiana House Judiciary Committee in January of this year when he was basically helping them understand why it matters how they view marriage as a state. His whole book is condensed into that short 11-minute speech. I'm going to read to you some parts of it. Let me just start by saying this. "[Everybody] is in favor of marriage equality." _I_ am in favor of marriage equality. Careful. "We all want…to treat all marriages equally. But the only way we can know whether any state law is treating marriages equally is if we know what a marriage is." We want to treat marriages equally, but what is a marriage? "Every state law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn't a marriage. If those lines are to be drawn on principle, if those lines are to reflect the truth, we have to know what sort of relationship is marital, as contrasted with other forms of consenting adult relationships." You are already free (and it will not lead to shalom and peace in the land) to have whatever kind of adult sexual relationship you want in our country. That is not what is up to debate when we talk about what marriage is. You are already free, if you are a single person or a homosexual person or a polyamorous person, to say, "I want these people to come in and visit me when I'm in intensive care." You're already free, as a single person or homosexual person, to determine who can inherit your fortune. You don't need to call that relationship _marriage._ When you start to call that marriage, you are going to start to redefine truth, and when you redefine truth, it will not go well with you. So we're for marriage equality, which means everybody has the right equally to have the same kind of marriage, but what kind of marriage? What he does in his little talk is he basically answers, "What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what are the consequences of redefining marriage?" I'm going to read to you some of it. "Marriage exists to unite a man and a woman as husband and wife to then be equipped to be mother and father to any children that that union produces. It's based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary." This is why you see this transgender nonsense going on. People are trying to attack God and truth and wisdom on every front. I don't know why. Well, I _do_ know why. Romans 1: professing to be wise, we become fools. We're trying to talk about how magnanimous we are and how loving we are and how accepting we are. Even though it looks like an elephant, we're going to call it a water buffalo. Even though it looks like a dog, we're going to call it a cat. Even though it looks like a male, we're going to call it… Well, what do you want to be? Even though you're boys and girls, we'll say, "No, you're purple penguins." (See week one.) Professing to be wise, we become fools. What's behind this is an increasing appetite to say, "I get to do what I want to do, and you can't tell me not to do it." Where is the first place people go to find life when they reject the source of life, which is God? You go to the place that gives you the most intense pleasure with the least amount of effort. We go to the sexual area of perversion. That's Romans 1. Sexual perversion is not the deepest expression of rebellion against God. It is the most logical, immediate representation of rebellion against God. What we have said is that marriage is basically a place where you can just do what you want to do sexually. We already have that in fornication, homosexuality, and adultery. He says it is based on this anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary. The fact that I have to sit up here and waste any time from God's pulpit telling you that men and women are different is just stunning. I love what Rick Warren said to Larry King years ago. Larry King said, "Are you telling me that God has a specific design for marriage?" and he said, "You show me a naked man and a naked woman, and I will show you God's design." That's a brilliant answer. In case you were illiterate, God goes, "I'll let the pieces fit," so you don't even have to learn to read to see how this thing should work. "It's based on the biological fact that reproduction requires a man and a woman. It's based on the sociological reality that children deserve a mother and a father." This is why the beginning of the de-evolution of marriage in our country did not start with the radical homosexual movement of the 70s and 80s. It started with the radical compromise of marriage in the church. It started with no-fault divorce in the 60s. It started with us, because, hey, this didn't preach well in your average Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Methodist church, when we started talking about divorce not being the thing, because while most of us weren't running off being homosexuals, we _were_ busy being fornicators and adulterers, and that was going to kind of hurt the common core if I really made a big deal about that. And my gosh, divorce. Who wants to make people be holy and not just say, "Oh, go be happy"? If you're going to be happy away from the wife of your youth, go ahead and cover your garment with blood, and just move on. Gang, that is why your elders have spent so much time over the last two years reworking and rewriting our marriage, divorce, and remarriage statement. It's published. We met with leaders all through our church last week, and you can go read it. Pastoral position on this. Marriage matters to God, and it matters to us because we're God's people. We will not kowtow to your irreconcilable differences and even to being hurt by awful actions against the marital covenant. We're going to call you to persevere and make marriage what God says it is. There will be a link in the message notes to that. You can go read it. We're not going to hide it. We'll send it out in the Current. We want you to get into it. Talk about it, communities. Let us know what your questions are. It is a sociological reality that children deserve a mother and a father, and most of us are destroying that intention by God to bless a family unit by being either present, dead, absent fathers, effeminate fathers who aren't there making disciples and leading and discipling our children and loving our wife… We have a big problem in this community with that, much more than homosexuality. The reason I talk about homosexuality is I teach you to communicate with the world, but do you know what we need to talk about in here? We have some guys who struggle with homosexuality, and we're glad you're here, because we want to love you and help you through that, but the large percentage of you men… We have a real problem with the way you love your wife in general. You single men, we have a real problem with the way you treat single women in general. It is sin, and it is destroying you and destroying our land. We're not going to sit here and pick on the homosexuals, because that's not most of us. We're going to talk about the sin that is reigning in you that is destroying your family and making your kids mock at your God, because you are a dead, nominal Christian who says you know God, and your family is not Psalm 128. You'd better get it together or don't call me crying when your kids go somewhere else, because that's what's coming. (Some of y'all are going to write me an email. "Why are you so angry when you say that?" I'm not angry. Just don't be stupid.) He says, "Whenever a child is born, a mother will always be close by. That's a fact of biology. The question for culture and the question for law is whether a father will be close by. And if so, for how long? Marriage is the institution that different cultures and societies across time and place developed to maximize the likelihood that that man would commit to that woman and then the two of them would take responsibility to raise that child." The guy who founded the largest website for encouraging adultery in relationships acknowledges that the Judeo-Christian ethic is the thing that interrupted man's rebellion against God and polyamorous relationships and infidelity and all of a sudden brought stabilization into the world, because God rescued them from their wicked ways. This guy is just saying, "But I could make money if I encourage people's wickedness." He said, "I think I'm going to probably do it so much we're going to destroy the whole institution of Judeo-Christian marriage." Guess what? If he can, with it he will destroy whatever civilization embraces his little websites pandering to their flesh. He says, "Part of this is based on the reality that there's no such thing as parenting in the abstract: there's mothering, and there's fathering. Men and women bring different gifts to the parenting enterprise." He mentions a sociologist who says, "The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable." What he's saying is science proves God is right. That's what all that means. I wish I had time to read to you article after article that I have from guys who have been raised by homosexuals, whether they're two mommies or two daddies. Heather doesn't need two mommies. Heather needs a present biological dad and a present biological mother, and if you start to jack with what Heather deserves, it will jack with Heather and it will jack with the future generations. There is study after study. Social science shows us that. It is no surprise that observational truth lines up with God's revealed perfect truth. People, you have to quit cowering and call it loving when people say, "I get to destroy myself, my children, and my land." You have to go, "Well, you _get_ to, but I don't think you _want_ to." You have to learn how to communicate winsomely, scientifically, sociologically, anthropologically, which is to say, theologically, or the problem is with the priest not with the people. I have to move to application. I want every week to be about this. I wish I could share with you all the overwhelming information about fatherlessness and what happens. I'm going to tell you again, dads, being physically present in the home… There are many kids who have a dad who is present in the home but absent as a father. Listen to me. That violates God's decree. He did not say, "Be un-divorced." He did not say, "Be present." He said, "You be a parent. You shepherd the flock of God among you." That means you have to be discipled so you know what you're discipling. You have to be a man so you can create a man. You have to know what a godly woman is so you can cherish and honor and raise her up to be one. 1._ Examine your own life_. That's where we're always going to start. Examine your own life! Nobody gets married thinking they're going to be part of a disintegrating relationship that destroys children and is a burden on society. Nobody gets married that way, but it's where you're going to easily go. If you have a marital problem, you have a spiritual problem, so you ought to do what Psalm 139 says. Some of you guys won't get this until you get a ping from a divorce attorney or until your wife turns her cold body toward you and says, "I am _so_ done," and then all of a sudden you start to listen, _really_ listen. Your kids are already embittered and strung out, apathetic about spiritual things, because _you_ have been. "Search me, O God." You ought to pray this every day. "Know my heart. Try me. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there's any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. God, what is the everlasting way?" I'm not supposed to meet the minimal Christian standard of not getting divorced; I'm supposed to be fully present, actively involved in the future of my children. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, **"Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun…"** It should be your reward. Examine your own life. Measure your own marriage. Anything less than a marriage that is just knocking it off the charts… Get yourself to re|engage. Re|engage is not for folks who have had six affairs. Re|engage is for anybody who wants to go back and be reminded of a biblical pattern, a disciple's way of living and loving in marriage. [Dallasmarriage.org](http://www.Dallasmarriage.org) if you're out of town. Go to re|engage here on Wednesday nights. Get your Community Group to get serious about what it means. Examine your marriage. This is not a societal problem; it is a self problem first, and you have to lead yourself before you start talking about how we need to redefine marriage governmentally. The government is not telling you you have to screw up your family yet. How are you doing with your freedom? 2._ Encourage each other_. Marriage is hard. Don't grow weary in doing good, but encourage others day after day, as long as it's called "today." Remind them of these things. Just say, "Listen. Your job is not to not divorce. Your job is not to not have an affair. Your job is to love your wife. How is your wife doing?" In our Community Group, my wife gets asked all the time, "How is Todd doing at loving you?" In my Community Group, my friends watch the way I treat her over dinner and go, "Todd, I don't think you loved her well there. Alex, maybe you're so used to being talked to that way…" Sometimes I might say to another guy's wife, "Hey, I don't think the way you just responded to your husband was the way it should have been done. I don't think that was respectful. I don't think that was patient and kind. I'm not mad at you, but I know that's who you want to be." Are you doing that? Are you admonishing each other when you're unruly? Are you reminding each other that there is no hope in your marriage if you don't have a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? Going to Watermark will not save your marriage. Going through re|engage will not restore your marriage. Letting re|engage go through _you_, abiding with Jesus will change your marriage. Are you encouraging each other? I mean, really saying, "We have to set the bar. We have to purify ourselves. We have to have our marriages be marriages that people stop and go, 'What is the secret to the way you love each other?' The answer is going to be Jesus. We have been loved much and we are loving. Every day I am reminded how much God loves me, and our marriage is a picture of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He was sovereign over me, serves me in all things, so in my position as a leader in the home, I serve her. I use everything I have, not for selfish or empty conceit. I don't merely look out for my own personal interests. I don't even just tell her I'm better than all of the other guys so I can go play more golf. I am concerned with how Jesus would love her." The Scriptures are filled and thick with exhortations for us to sharpen each other. 3._ Engage your culture_. It always comes down to this. Speak out on these issues. The Scripture says, "If you're dismayed before them, if you're intimidated by them, I will dismay you." The reason our country has gotten where it is with this whole redefinition of marriage thing is because Christians have learned to be politically correct. We didn't know what to do when they say, "Oh, well, the same Bible that says male and female and that you shouldn't do that homosexual thing says you shouldn't eat shellfish and you shouldn't wear shirts with blended material and fields aren't supposed to have mixed crops and you're supposed to stone your daughter if she has an adulterous affair. You're not doing _those_ things, so I guess homosexuality is okay too." If you don't know how to answer that question, you're not going to engage your culture. You have to be ready. If people go, "Well, why are you so against love, man? What does what I do in my bedroom have anything to do with you?" Answer: It's a sociological fact when you take away a dad, when you take away a mom, it affects kids. Now listen. Death takes away dads sometimes. God is the Father of the fatherless. He'll come in. He'll come alongside. The body of Christ is to come alongside. God makes provision there, but what he's saying is, "Don't execute Dad yourself. Don't remove yourself. The body of Christ functioning well can help overcome what is there, but don't you bring pain into your own life." Engage your culture. Speak up. The Scripture says in Colossians 4, **"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."** Do you guys know why marriage matters? Do you know what's at stake? When you take the pillar of society and crack it or remove it, why are you surprised at what's collapsing? Child poverty goes up; education goes down. Child abuse goes up; child nurturing goes down when you jack with the family. Social dysfunction goes up; emotional health goes down when you jack with the family. Crime goes up; peace goes down when you jack with the family. Do you know that 70 percent of African Americans in our country today are born into fatherless homes? Do you know that 60 percent of all kids in Washington, DC are born to fatherless homes? Do you know that 43 percent of all children born today in America are born to fatherless homes? And we wonder why America is screwed up? You're just kicking out pillars. Let me give you a story of what God can do, though. This is one that happened right here. This is a marriage that was defined by two people who were given over to fornication and adultery. They were deceivers and liars and selfish. It's a true story. Anger, divorce initiated, hiding, adultery, multiple affairs, bags packed, lying, ashamed, adultery, multiple affairs (actually on the female side, one on the guy's, just to be exact), and then something happened, where one day, though they were dead church, they were sitting there… They weren't _in_ a dead church; they were just dead church. They were nominal people. By the way, do you know that if you don't attend a religious service you're 50 percent more likely to get a divorce than if you are a regularly engaged, fellowshipping Christian, but if you are a nominal, irregular believer who just shows up at church every now and then, you are 10 percent more likely than a person who never goes to church to get a divorce? This dear couple was going along. Chaos and devastation led to grace and healing. One day, they were sitting in a church that had learned about how to reconcile marriages from us through re|engage. They started re|engage at their church. They were sitting there, and they go, "I think we'll go." So they ended up leaving their church and coming here to Watermark. They went through re|engage. Their marriage was restored, and believe it or not, they began serving in re|engage, ministering to couples, discipling other people, sharing their story of grace, and God rebuilding that incredible broken marriage. What happened after that is their older daughter began to pursue Jesus. Her life changed. She went and started to affect everybody who was in _her_ community, because she saw the power of God for the first time. Even though she grew up in a church around parents who didn't walk with God, her life was changed because she saw what God did when her parents got serious about what Christ did. She went to Guatemala. She went to Brazil. She went to many different places. As she pursued Christ radically, she started a home church with some other friends and began to disciple girls. One of the things that happened was her cousin, Josh, who happens to be at Watermark now (he was baptized here), began to see what was happening. You saw the same thing happen with aunts and uncles who saw the radical life change in this little girl. His life came out of debauchery. His girlfriend saw he stopped acting the way he was. _She_ came to know Christ. The sister of the man in this particular story began to walk with Christ. The daughter of that sister of the man began to walk with Christ. She saw the life change and came to know Christ. The daughter of the aunt trusted Christ. She asked, "How do you become a Christian?" This little girl invited some other little girls in her neighborhood over to play on the trampoline at their house and started telling _them_ about Jesus, because she saw the radical change that was happening in her family. The other daughter of this couple saw what was going on, and there was a radical change in _her_. She said, "I got to see for the first time the power of God right before me," and it radically changed _her_. She went back to college. She used a spare bedroom in her apartment in college to start a prayer room. Her next-door neighbor began to notice the change, and then _that_ guy came to know Christ. The elementary school this teacher used to have her affairs out of heard about the change that was going on in their family, and some of those folks now started coming to re|engage. The church they were at then began to adopt re|engage themselves, not at Watermark where they sent their people, but back at that church. They launched it in 2012. On the very first night, 550 people from that church attended because one marriage got right. There has been steady growth ever since then. Over 1,400 marriages have worked through biblical principles of reconciliation and marital oneness because one marriage got changed. This couple went to a pastors' conference we sent them to in Ghana, and there were some men over there who went, "We want to take these principles and teach them in Africa." That continent is being changed because one marriage got serious about abiding with Jesus Christ. This person has been a part of 57 different churches starting re|engage in 62 different campuses with almost 4,000 different couples, in just the last 12 months alone, starting to get equipped about God's intention for marriage. Do you see what's happening? That's engaging with your culture. That's what you do. You don't just go preach and say, "Homosexuality is wrong!" You just go, "Let me show you how to do it right. Let my life be a divine proposal. Let me tell you my story of destruction and death, and let me tell you how God changed it and how it has led to life all across the world." What a privilege. This stuff matters. If you love people, you'd better care about marriage, and if you love your family, you'd better make yours the best one there is. You know what? I think if we fixed Dallas' marriage problem we would fix Dallas. I think if we fixed America's marriage problem we would fix America. Guess what? America doesn't care about marriage because they don't care about Jesus, so you'd better make a case, by being salt, light, and a city on a hill, that Jesus matters. If you need help in your marriage, would you come let us reengage with you? If you don't have a relationship with God, if he's not your bridegroom, would you come? And know that he doesn't hate you, divorcee, homosexual, effeminate, adulterer, fornicator. He loves you. He wants it to go well with you. Father, I pray for my friends, that they would see that you are a good God and they would come home and be reconciled and be restored and that not only would you save them from the destruction that is sowing to the flesh but that you would use them to sow righteousness and life all across the world as an agent of God, a messenger, an _aggelos_, but it has to start with us. Father, bring deep conviction in us. Let us not throw stones. Let us be a cornerstone. Let us build the foundation of truth into our lives and invite others into the security of your way. In Christ's name, amen. Go. Evaluate. Have a great week of worship.