Saturday Sermon: The First Wedding Day
Though some may believe that moving the science/faith dialogue forward is best left to scientists, scholars, and theologians, we at BioLogos recognize that our pastors play an invaluable role in the conversation. Across the globe, pastors are helping their congregations work through difficult issues of science and faith with honesty, insight, and a gentle spirit. To this end we present an ongoing series recognizing sermons (and the pastors who give them) that are helping to promote the harmony of science and faith. Today's sermon comes from Rev. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Click above to hear an excerpt. Below, is a brief summary written by BioLogos editorial staff. The full sermon, which we highly recommend can be purchased from Redeemer’s sermon store. Finally, if you know a sermon or podcast related to science and faith that has especially spoken to you, please let us know.
The ordained and blessed tradition of marriage is established in Genesis 2: 18-25. This passage communicates important ideas, Dr. Keller affirms, about both marriage seeking and marriage executing. When considered, these concepts will allow one to be successful in both areas.
Foremost, Adam’s response to his wife highlights marriage’s potential to be idolatrous. When God presents all other creatures before Adam in the garden, not one is considered to be a suitable helper. Therefore, the Lord creates Eve from the rib of Adam and brings her to him. Upon seeing the woman, Adam exclaims in verse 23, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Adam is expressing, in effect, that he has found at last the helpmate he longed for—by discovering Eve, he is finding himself. Marriage, then, is so fulfilling that there is a danger of idolization of one’s partner. Often, the temptation is to receive love, affirmation, respect, and even a foundation in life from their spouse, rather than from God—the very source of all these things. However, no human relationship “can bear the weight of those expectations,” and the marriage will be crushed. In addition, there is a tendency for unmarried persons to commit idolatry when they either yearn for marriage to complete them or search for that “perfect” marriage partner. God alone can meet these desires for perfection and wholeness. The problem, then, is not in loving one’s spouse too much or in wanting a blissful marriage, but in the smallness of one’s love for God in proportion to the other.
Next, God’s identification of Eve as Adam’s helper reveals the long-enduring patience that marriage requires. This word helper is often used to refer to military reinforcements throughout the Bible. The man and the woman as a couple bring to each other a strength that is not had by either of them as individuals. However, they are not just helpers, but suitable helpers. The word suitable in the Hebrew, Dr. Keller explains, is closely translated to mean ‘like opposite.’ In other words, the woman is like him, yet not him. Like two puzzle pieces, Dr. Keller says, God designed male and female as perfect complements to one another. Thus, marriage involves two people coming together with equal, but distinct strengths, and they enter into a tight relationship. So close is this communion that it is described as becoming “one flesh” in Scripture. In this closeness, necessary “head-butting” occurs as the spouses are challenged by one another to become the persons God made them to be. For this reason, it is essential to have the patience to bear with one another throughout this long journey of growth in life.
Then, there is a supernatural humility in the idea of marriage as conveyed by Genesis 2: 18(NASB) when God says, “‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’” Although Adam is in Paradise with God himself, God seems to indicate that Adam is lonely. According to Dr. Keller, the only explanation is that God specifically made Adam to need someone else in addition to himself. This is the most humble, unselfish act one could imagine—that the God of the universe would make people to need others as well.
As Dr. Keller concludes his sermon, he discusses how marriage portrays the relationship God seeks with his people—God as the bridegroom and his people as the bride. It is essential to understand that God desires to be the intimate helpmate to every person, even their spouse who is faithfully committed to their growth. Without God, one will never become who he or she was created to be. In claiming to be his people’s husband, as in Isaiah and Jeremiah, God is saying, “I have given you my heart.” For this reason, God sent his only son, Jesus Christ: to win back the heart of his wayward bride. Therefore, those who accept his love and put on the wedding ring of faith inherit all that is found in Christ. Ultimately, the Bible begins with a wedding, and it ends with a wedding—the marriage supper of the Lamb that will fill the world with the children of God.
Tim Keller is pastor and founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. The “Influentials” issue of New York magazine featured Keller as “the most successful Christian evangelist in the city” for his engagement with the young professional and artist demographics. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn., his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hampton, Mass., and his Doctor of Ministry from Westminster Theological Seminary. Keller has helped start more than 100 churches throughout the world. He is the author of Counterfeit Gods; The Prodigal God; The Reason for God: Belief of God in an Age of Skepticism -- named book of the year by World Magazine in 2008; and the recently released Generous Justice.