There might not be a more contested topic in the modern era than human sexuality, and this is because a constellation of cultural leaders going back to Darwin, Rousseau, Freud, and Marx have successfully discipled a number of generations in their claims that human freedom, happiness, and fulfillment come from individuals following their own feelings and desires, and sexual desires have come to be seen as the center of what it means to be human. While it is sometimes claimed that Jesus had nothing to say about these things, that is simply not true. And here, in this text, is one such place where Jesus gives us His authoritative word on human sexuality. It has been a massive failure of the Christian Church not to declare these words authoritatively and stand behind them with loving discipline.
“…But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the twain shall be one flesh: so that they are not more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk. 10:2-9).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
The Pharisees come to test Jesus with a question about divorce, no doubt trying to catch Him in the intricacies of their traditions, the law, and public opinion (Mk. 10:2). Jesus turns the question back on them, asking them for the law given by Moses (Mk. 10:3), and they reply by quoting from Dt. 24 (Mk. 10:4, cf. Jer. 3:8). But Jesus replies that Moses made this concession for Israel because of the hardness of Israelite hearts (Mk. 10:5). Jesus says that this was never God’s intention, since God made them male and female at the beginning of creation (Mk. 10:6). And it is because they are made male and female, that a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife (Mk. 10:7). This is the only way two people become one flesh, and this is something that God does and therefore man must not try to defy this union (Mk. 10:8-9).
THE MODERN LIE
The modern world has embraced the lie that human freedom and happiness is found in what Carl Trueman has called “expressive individualism,” the idea that you and I are most free when we are the least inhibited in acting on our internal desires. Sigmund Freud pressed that lie into a particularly dark and sexualized direction, insisting that the very essence of being human and human happiness was found in sexual pleasure. This is why the modern world has rejected nearly every moral and legal constraint on sexuality because if an individual’s fundamental humanity is expressed in their sexual desires and gratification, to restrain or restrict that is to deny their humanity. This of course began with pornography and fornication, but has quickly led to the rejection of marriage, homosexuality, transgenderism, and gender fluid queer theory.
THE AUTHORITY OF GOD
What Jesus teaches here fundamentally is the authority of God and His Word over human sexuality. If Jesus was the original flower child, this was an important moment for Him to say something like “chill out, dudes, the kingdom of God isn’t about that” (in Aramaic). But that isn’t at all what Jesus said. He first appealed to the Mosaic law and then all the way back to the authority of God in creation itself (Mk. 10:5-6). Not only did God Himself make mankind male and female, God Himself made marriage between one man and one woman (Mk. 10:7-8). We must not miss the fact that God is the One who joins a husband and wife together (Mk. 10:9). This is why we may not break it apart, but also why we cannot force anything else together.
We touched on this last week, but every person must begin all reasoning about truth and morality from some ultimate authority, either God the Creator or else something or someone within the creation. When something or someone within creation is chosen as the ultimate authority (reason, science, experience, experts, etc.), the Bible calls this an idol. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom. 1:22-25).
When Freud and others placed sexual gratification at the center of human identity and happiness, they were essentially claiming sex as a god, which is not really new, since ancient paganism always had gods and goddesses of sex and fertility. But there are two fundamental results of idolatry. When you worship some part of creation, you end up destroying it, and that worship ends up destroying you (Ps. 115:4-8). Instead of receiving sexuality as one of the great gifts of God, worshiping sex demands of sex what it cannot give and so it destroys sex and destroys human life and happiness. When we submit to God, when we worship the Creator, we are enabled to receive His created gifts for what they are and truly enjoy them under His blessing (Ps. 16:11). Being made male and female is so much more than sex. Reducing our humanity to sexual functions turns people into objects and destroys our humanity: friendship, family, worship, work, hobbies, study, creativity, laughter, beauty, and so much more.
The same God who makes male and female, and makes them one flesh, has come for our race of fallen, sexual sinners. And He has bound Himself to us by an unbreakable covenant, in the blood of His Son, in order to take away all our sin and shame and make us human again.
Sexual guilt and shame are some of the strongest feelings in the world. And Satan is the Accuser; he brings condemnation with truth, lies, smears, spin, and shame. But here’s how you know sex is no god but just a pitiful idol: sex cannot save you. You can use it like a drug. You can seek all the pleasure and satisfaction in the world and you will still end up feeling empty. God did make us hungry for happiness and joy, but all the pleasure in this world can never make you whole. As Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
So do not look in a humanistic mirror trying to see just how bad it all is. Every attempt to compare yourself to yourself or others will result in distortion, either patting yourself on the back for not being as bad as thosepeople over there, or else you will land in a slew of despond, drowning in despair. The only good mirror in the world is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Look there. And when you look there, you see yourself there. You see yourself and all your sin flayed, beaten, naked, and then dead, and then the body is taken down, put in a tomb, and three days later, He is risen, and you are risen in Him. All the gunk is gone. All the filth is gone. All the shame is gone. And all that remains is a holy and pure and glorious humanity: male and female.