Genesis 1:27“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”
Commentary from the sermon “‘I Take You…’” by Alistiar Begg:
“‘From the beginning … “God made them male and female”’ (Mark 10:6). That’s their gender: male and female. He didn’t make them transgender or any other kind of gender. He made them male and female. And He showed them how everything is supposed to work, and they figured it out really well. And it’s clear not only concerning the gender but also concerning the number. He didn’t make a number of Eves for Adam—a selection for him to choose from. He just made one. And He didn’t make another Adam as an alternative for Eve. He just made one, pointing to the fact that at the very beginning of creation, you have the roots of heterosexual monogamy. Heterosexual monogamy—that marriage is about one man and one woman, and it isn’t about anything other than one man and one woman. And the redefining of that in terms of a confused culture does nothing to alter the facts, does nothing to alter the reality of what God has done.”
Mark 10:6–9“From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Commentary from the sermon “Divorce — Part One” by Alistiar Begg:
“Marriage is not a human invention. Marriage is not a social convention. Marriage is not something drummed up in time to help men and women make sense of their existence. Marriage is a creation ordinance—a creation ordinance. So that at the very beginning of time, when God makes man and woman, He establishes for them exactly how things are to be in the world that He has made. And since He is the Maker, He has every legitimate right to explain to His creation how they work and why they should act and live in this way.”
Malachi 2:16“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
Commentary from the sermon “‘I Take You…’” by Alistiar Begg:
“In a marriage covenant, a man and a woman commit themselves to each other for life, and on the basis of solemn vows, they become one. They don’t become one and then make vows. They make vows, and as a result of this contractual, covenantal relationship that is established, they become one with each other intellectually, emotionally, physically, sociologically, and so on. They are completely interwoven with one another. And it is in that context that all of the benefits of marriage are to be enjoyed.
“… And that’s why we say when we conduct marriage ceremonies … ‘We are gathered here in the presence of God and before this congregation to join together this man and woman in marriage.’
“Marriage is a special and unique relationship, commended in the Bible as honorable in all (Heb. 13:4) and set apart as sacred, signifying the wonderful spiritual union between Christ and the church. Therefore, it is not to be entered upon lightly or carelessly but thoughtfully, with reverence for God, with due consideration of the purposes for which it was established by God.”
Exodus 20:14“You shall not commit adultery.”
Commentary from the sermon “‘Whom God Has Joined’” by Alistiar Begg:
“In marriage, two people are not entering into a contract. In marriage, two people are entering into a divine covenant. It is a great mystery. They ‘become one’ (Gen. 2:24). It is one plus one equals one. They become interwoven with one another emotionally and psychologically and physiologically, and in every dimension, and it is this great union of all of that makes marriage what it is.
“… When you remove sex from the context of marriage, it becomes a monstrous thing. It becomes a disappointing thing. It becomes a devastating thing. It becomes less than what God has intended. When a man says that he wants a woman, he is not telling the truth. He wants something that a woman makes possible. And no one keeps the packet when they’ve smoked the cigarettes. And the discarded lives around our nation, and the heartache, and the pain, and the shame, and the disappointment that are represented in a congregation such as ours that bears testimony to the vacillation of many of us in relationship to absolute, biblical truth is unbelievable!”
1 Corinthians 7:26–28“In view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.”
Commentary from the sermon “To Marry or Not to Marry? — Part Two” by Alistiar Begg:
“Now, in relation to the whole issue of singleness … his instruction makes good sense. Because, as he says at the end of verse 28, ‘those who marry will face many troubles in this life’ (1 Cor. 7:28, NIV). So he says, ‘If you’re single, it’s my best judgment that you just remain as you are.’ It is one thing to face persecution and the possibility of death as a single person, quite another to face it as a married person. Because a married person who has children and a spouse is going to face persecution and death with a whole ton more considerations: ‘Who will care for my wife?’ or ‘Who will deal with my husband? Who will look after my children? What will I do?’ And he says, ‘In light of the present crisis, I think it’s good for you just to remain as you are.’ …
“… Paul is not suggesting for a moment that celibacy is something that is more spiritual, but rather, he is saying that in the light of the context, celibacy, he believes, is more sensible. And there’s all the difference in the world between those two things. And he says, ‘However, if marriage takes place, it’s not sin’ … but rather, when high seas are raging, it’s no time to change ships.”
Hebrews 13:4“Let marriage be held in honor among all.”
Commentary from the sermon “Purity: Living by the Rules” by Alistiar Begg:
“To honor marriage in the social context, for us as men, will mean resisting the smutty innuendo of so much business-life banter, so much post-physical-recreation talk, so much so-called ‘manly jargon.’ Sure, our friends may think us slightly soft, rather strange, but that’s fine, because if we present to them one thing and then laugh at their jokes and sustain their humor and descend to the lowest common denominator in our relationships, then we cannot be said ever to be upholding the purity and the rightness of marriage. To honor it will mean displaying, and often unconsciously so, the distinctive elements of marriage apropos Ephesians 5. …
“… I want you to notice a little word here: ‘Marriage should be honored by all’ (Heb. 13:4, NIV). See that three-letter word? ‘By all,’ not by some. That means by those who have discovered marriage in all of its beauty, by those who have discovered heartache in their marriage, and by those who have never discovered marriage at all. … Whether we go through life single or married, marriage is still God’s divine institution, and we need to uphold it.”
Ephesians 5:22–24“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Commentary from the sermon “A Word to Wives” by Alistair Begg:
“The biblical teaching is simple, it is politically incorrect, and it is quite wonderful … in that it means what it says. It just means what it says. Submission is the humble recognition of God’s divine ordering of society. Society cannot function as God established it without the principle of submission being both understood and applied. So, for example, this is not a principle that is unique to marriage. We’re going to see that it involves children. Children are to submit to their parents (Eph. 6:1). When you read in the book of Hebrews, you realize there that church members are to submit to their church leaders (Heb. 13:17). When you read Romans chapter 13, in the opening verses, we’re told that we as citizens are to submit to our authorities (Rom. 13:1). And so, too, ‘wives … to your own husbands.’ …
“However, there are exceptions in the bounds of marriage. There have to be. For example, in circumstances of domestic violence. A husband has no right to subject his wife to physical or sexual abuse by the misapplication of the principle that is here made straightforward.”
Ephesians 5:25“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Commentary from the sermon “A Word to Husbands — Part One” by Alistair Begg:
“The word [for ‘love’] is a word that is expressive of self-sacrifice and of self-abasement. This kind of love does not focus on what I’m getting; it focuses upon what I’m giving. It’s not about what I’m due, what I deserve; it is about what I owe. It is not about my self-satisfaction; it is about giving myself up for the satisfaction of another.
“That is why Paul is going to go on, as we will see later, and say, ‘It is this love which is embodied in Christ’s love for the church.’ It’s patient, it’s kind, it doesn’t insist on its own way (1 Cor 13:4). So by setting this high standard, Paul is …, on the one hand, exercising a safeguard, if the husband will pay attention to it, so that he does not become tyrannical; and he is at the same time providing a safeguard for the dignity and the well-being of the wife.”
1 Corinthians 7:29“The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.”
Commentary from the sermon “To Marry or Not to Marry? — Part Two” by Alistair Begg:
“[Paul] is not setting aside the instruction he has already given. What he is saying is this: marriage should not reduce the believer’s obligation to the Lord and the Lord’s work. Let me say it again, because I believe this is the principle: marriage should not reduce the believer’s obligation to the Lord and the Lord’s work.
“The responsibilities of marriage and, right along with them, the responsibilities and privileges of family … are no excuse whatsoever for slackness when it comes to the things of Christ and His kingdom. In other words, we cannot allow our relationships with one another—whatever those relationships, however prized they might be—to be a ground for removing ourselves from the realm of obligation to the Lord and His work. When we do that, we invert the priorities which God has given us.”
Matthew 19:9“I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Commentary from the sermon “Divorce — Part Two” by Alistair Begg:
“Divorce was permitted on account of sexual immorality. Why? Well, clearly because the one-flesh union has now been violated. That which God has said, ‘Let not man put asunder’ (Mark 10:9, KJV), that which ‘God has joined together’ (Mark 10:9, NIV), that which God has said is to take place within a monogamous, heterosexual, lifelong companionship, has now been violated. It has been broken. It will never be the same again. And so, that marital unfaithfulness, that immorality, made divorce permissible. Permissible, but not prescribed. Something that is permitted is not necessarily prescribed.
“And that is why, in contemporary experiences of that kind of marital breakdown, our first concern must always be with repentance, with forgiveness, with restoration, and with reconciliation. Because it is permitted, it is not mandated. And therefore, it is not something that should be rushed to. The pathway of reconciliation may be the hardest path, but it’s probably the best path.
“Now, in the New Testament, you only have one other exception … and that is the exception that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, in chapter 7. And there he’s making reference to the departure of the unbelieving partner in a marriage. … Paul says there not that the believing spouse should be an initiator in that demise but that if that is the case with which they are confronted, that the believing party may allow the unbelieving partner to go, and in that context, the offended-against, believing spouse is then free to remarry. …
“The plain statement of Jesus is the plain statement of Jesus. And we cannot set aside the clarity with which He speaks. Whenever someone divorces his wife or a wife divorces her husband without biblical grounds—of which there are only two—then, to remarry is an act of adultery. It’s impossible to read what Jesus is saying there and understand it in any other way, isn’t it? ‘Anyone who divorces his wife’—forget the exception clause for the moment—‘anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.’”