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Private Confession: By Appointment

One Flesh

October 2, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
October 3, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 19
One Flesh

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and shall be faithfully devoted to his wife and the two shall become one flesh, so that they are not longer two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God has joined together let no man separate. (Mark 10:7-9)

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We know that some marriages are made in heaven, and some are not; and so we want to tread very carefully here today. Not because we want to lower the bar of Biblical marriage; but because the “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s has left death and destruction in its wake; and it is not over yet!

What was once a glittering, snow-capped mountain, namely God’s institution of Holy Matrimony, has suffered an avalanche, and many Christians were buried beneath its hoary frost. But we are not here today to dredge up past sins, but rather to remit sins, and to dispense new insights, and new power to strengthen every marriage and every Christian in every way! For, “we believe in the FORGIVENESS of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

While it is true that divorce, and all the transgressions that lead to it, are sin: it is not the unforgiveable sin that Rome declares it to be. Nor need it cut a person off from the sacramental life of the church. Indeed the only “unforgiveable sin” is the one we steadfastly refuse to repent of.

But even then! once “the goodness of God leads us to repentance,” (Romans 2:4) that transgression, too, is remitted by the Lord who: “tasted of death for all men.” (Hebrews 2:9) And so be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven, and let us praise the God of our salvation.

Now we all know that every marriage sails through as many stormy seas, as it does placid ones. And so the church does not abandon people in their hour of need but offers grace, mercy, peace, counsel and fervent prayers for the embattled, just like St. Paul teaches us to do when he admonishes:

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2).

Now with these things said let us also hear the brilliant Gospel in today’s readings, and what a gospel it is! In a word it is this: “The two shall become one flesh, and what God has joined together let no man separate.”

But to understand what is being said here we must first remember that all of Scripture is about Christ, and the Sacraments by which his merits become ours.

And so this verse in Genesis is not speaking initially about earthly marriage, which is meant to be a reflection of the heavenly union. But about Christ and his baptismally-bathed Bride, the Church; who becomes one flesh in the Blessed Sacrament of Eucharist.

And when we say Church, we don’t mean here the organizational apparatus, but “the baptized assembled to engage in holy communion with her Lord.” But to get there we must hear the New Testament meaning of today’s Old Testament reading. When Moses says: “Therefore a man shall leave the father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” we must understand that:

Jesus himself is the Man! The God/Man who left his heavenly Father, and his earthly Mother, and went to the cross to wed his Bride the Church.

You are that Bride!

Like Adam, Jesus, too, was put into a deep sleep. Oh how deep! The sleep of death that he endured to cleanse every sin and every sinner.

And like Adam his side, too, was opened up. Not by God’s creative hand now, but by a Roman Spear that was foreordained by the Father: and out came the Cup of the New Testament, and the water of Blessed Baptism by which God fashions and redeems the church.

Now the church is washed from every spot and wrinkle. Now the church is One Flesh with her Lord. And what God has joined together, Christ and his Bride by faith. By Blessed Baptism. By Holy Communion. By eternal marriage. Let no man put asunder.

Yes, it is true that in this creative Word we hear in Genesis chapter two also instituted earthly marriage to be an icon of the Perfect Union that exists between Christ and his Bride church. But rarely does our marital love reach such lofty heights. That is not to say that it cannot, because it can. We have the performative word of God that empowers us when St. Paul writes:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

And again, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”

And we have Jesus who, in eleven words, gives perfect counsel to every Christian, every marriage, and every person who wishes to live in peace when he says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

By the power of these godly words planted into our core we can overcome all obstacles, and sail through any storm. First because we are One Flesh with Jesus baptismally just as St. Paul writes:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

And secondly because Jesus is One Flesh with us Eucharistically, for our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)

With such confidence we can boldly testify along with St. Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)

And now what God has joined together into One Flesh: Christ and his Church by baptism and Eucharist. Husband and wife by Holy Matrimony. Let no man put asunder. Amen.