April 20, 2023

Jesus’ Teaching on Marriage and Gender

Sinclair Ferguson
Jesus’ Teaching on Marriage and Gender

Many people are rejecting the teaching in Genesis about the boundaries of marriage and gender. But Jesus didn’t reject it. Today, Sinclair Ferguson shows that Christ’s way is the only way for God’s image-bearers to flourish.


All this week on Things Unseen, we’ve been reflecting on one of the most fundamental and important questions we could have ever ask: What is man?

And today, I want to return to something we were talking about the other day: the remarkable fact that God created man as male and female. It’s maybe important for me to underline something here. That isn’t only the view of Genesis 2; it was the view of Jesus on the basis of Genesis 2. Here’s Matthew 19:4–6: “Have you not read,” He asked the Pharisees, “that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘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.” He could not have made it clearer that the teaching God gave in the beginning, far from being contradicted, changed, or adapted by Jesus, as sometimes people say, is the very teaching of Jesus.

Why is this so important? Well, because it establishes that the Christian view, Jesus’ view, is that marriage is between a man and a woman. There’s another implication of this. There were ever only meant to be two created genders. Human beings come in only two created sexes. Anything other than this is some form of a distortion and disordering of the creation and God’s purposes for it. And this, too, is the view endorsed by Jesus.

I think we should draw several conclusions from this. The first is that our governments are mistaken when they endorse any other view. More than that, they’re rejecting the Word and wisdom of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second is that it’s simply not true that love takes a different view today. Neither God’s loving Word nor human anatomy have changed.

And in addition, the One who is Himself love incarnate affirms this view. Jesus’ affirmation of Genesis 2 outlaws what is today called gay marriage. It also outlaws no-ground divorce. Actually, He didn’t believe that the individual’s demand for, or even understanding of, his or her own happiness is actually the most important consideration, for incarnate love does not tolerate the disordering of God’s creation order.

Now, we live in an era when not only is that an unpopular thing to say, but powerful forces have been released into our society. And we need to take a leaf out of Jesus’ book. Or, to put that in other terms, we need to take a leaf out of Jesus’ logic, which unmasks the deception that quotes “Love conquers all things—in this case, all obstacles and barriers to what I want to do.” Seven words are all the biblically instructed Christian needs: “From the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). End of argument.

Today in our world, we are told that women exchange relations with men and vice versa for same-sex relationships, and instead of the threatened thunder and lightning of God’s judgment, there is happiness. But if Romans 1:18–32 makes one thing clear, it’s this: God’s present day judgments are not usually manifested in cataclysmic destruction, but in giving people over to their own desires to doing what they want to do. Three times in Romans 1—verses 24, 26, and 28—Paul tells us this: God simply gave them over to their own desires and to the consequences of them. And as C.S. Lewis once put it, there is a sense in which the most terrible words in the universe are when God Himself says, “Thy will be done.”

I think it’s very telling how Paul ends his exposition of Romans 1:18–32. He tells us that those who break God’s law in this way, not only do it themselves, but they give approval to those who do the same. In a sense, they’ve got to. Rebellion against God must have company. It must make its own way normal, and if possible, normative.

But as has often enough been said, we can never finally break God’s law—it’s indestructible. We can only break ourselves against it. And we need to pray with great compassion that our world will soon realize that before more people destroy themselves.