Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Amen)
Before Adam and Eve fell, our Lord created and gave holy marriage. Not just for Adam and Eve but for all their children, too, including us. The Lord delights in marriage.
Before Adam and Eve fell, procreation was the only purpose for marriage. For children are a blessing from God. A gift from God.
After the fall, the Lord continues to delight in marriage. Children continue to be a blessing from God for our God is the God of life even unto the resurrection of the dead.
After the fall, there is an additional benefit to marriage. It is armor against concupiscence. Concupiscence is our desire to sin, which is a sin. We were conceived and born with an appetite to sin against the Lord and against each other.
Holy Christian Marriage, properly practiced, is a gift cools our desire to covet. To delight in the gift of children; to receive children as a blessing from God (which He says they are) is an antidote to materialism. To desire a new shinier car, expensive education, a larger house. The more children you have; the more blessings you have the less time you will have to rise the corporate ladder, farm multiple new acreage, social prestige and the like.
Holy Christian Marriage, properly practiced, is a gift that also cools our desires for fornication, cohabitation, adultery, sodomy, pornography, rape, abortion, trans gender and a host of sexual sins that plague our people and our land.
This morning, let us rekindle our delight in marriage as Christ has given it.
To do that we need to learn and receive repentance for our desire to despise holy marriage.
The Journal for Lutheran Mission, special December issue, analyzed the reasons for the decline of our congregations, which applies to congregations and church bodies across North America and Europe.
There are two stand out reasons and none of us will like it.
First, we agree with the culture around us that 1.5 children per family is enough. Children are expensive and deprive us of our wealth. So, we sterilize ourselves. (I know, not comfortable)
Second, why is it that one Christian family raises faithful Christian children into adulthood and an equally faithful Christian family raise unbelieving children? The difference is what happens in the home. One family practices the faith at home and teaches the faith at home whereas the other family goes to church but nothing else. A mixed marriage between a faithful Lutheran and a faithful Baptist is trouble when the first child is born. To baptize or not to baptize. Parents fight over these issues and our children are lost. (Again, I know this is not comfortable and it is often true that in some circumstances parents can do everything well and yet raise unbelieving children and also that parents could do everything poorly and still raise a child who trusts Christ).
A solution is available in the lines before our Epistle lesson:
15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
You know the will of the Lord. You pray for the Lord's will be done. What does that mean?
When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will that would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh. Instead, He strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith until we die. This is His gracious and good will.
Continuing with Ephesians:
18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
How is one filled with the Holy Spirit? Three steps:
19 singing to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
20 thanking God the Father for all good things in the name of Jesus Christ
21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
Singing, thanking, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is a fruit of repentance long before we even speak of marriage. Singing, thanking, submitting. This is what we do when we assemble together every Sunday and feast day. This is walking wisely with our Lord.
Here is our needed repentance:
A wise man submits to his heavenly Father as Christ submitted submitted His will to the same Father. No longer is sex and wealth and power the most important gods in his life.
A wise woman receives what her Savior gives as the church submits to the forgiveness sins from the same Savior. No longer is sex and wealth and power the most important gods in her life.
But, here is our needed absolution:
For Christ has shed His blood for your sins of materialism. Christ gave up all He had, all His wealth, honor, power, everything that rightly belongs to the true God, Christ gave up everything even His life so you may be forgiven of your materialism and receive His kingdom.
For Christ has shed His blood your sexual sins. Christ despised the shame of the cross, even when stripped of all clothing, exposed on that tree for all to see and jeer Him so that you may be covered with the clean, white, holy robe of His righteousness.
This is our needed absolution so that we may delight again in God's Word. and now we could go on to speak of marriage and children.
A quote from a father our our church body has this to say (followed by a hymn verse to conclude):
That so many have not yet found peace of soul in Christ is undoubtedly another cause for so many unhappy marriages. They seek in marriage happiness and rest for the empty hearts. Whoever seeks this in marriage seeks in vain. Even this state can never satisfy the yearning heart of man. A person must be saved in Christ and his grace. IF a person has acquired this treasure, then his married life will also become a quiet, peaceful, and happy one. yes, the less a Christian seeks his happiness in his marriage but in Christ alone, the happier his marriage will be. -CFW Walther
LSB 536, especially the first stanza goes really well with this
One thing's needful; Lord, this treasure teach me highly to regard.
All else, though it first give pleasure, Is a yoke that presses hard!
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
This one thing is needful; all others are vain-
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and keep you in Jesus Christ. Amen.