I'm going to read you a passage out of the Old Testament: Genesis 29. And one of the things we're struck with immediately is that the Bible is the most unsentimental of all books when it comes to the subject of marriage and family. It is utterly realistic about this—that it is always hard and often devastating to not be married and it is always hard and sometimes devastating to be married.
Keeping this biblical understanding is very difficult, because there's almost no support for it institutionally, structurally. Outside Christian circles, or in the secular world at large, there's a tremendous amount of fear and a tremendous amount of cynicism about marriage, and with good reason, because of one of the things I just said that the Bible talks about. On the other hand, inside Christian circles there is a tendency to say, ah, marriage, that's what life's about. Marriage, family, kids, white picket fence. And the Bible says both of those attitudes are utterly wrong, because the Bible does not show us Jesus Christ pointing to marriage saying, "This is what you need." But rather the Bible shows us marriage both in its strengths and even in its tremendous difficulties pointing to Jesus Christ as the thing we need.
Now it's never been more obvious when I read you this account.
(Read Genesis 29:15-35)
A Family of Grace, a Family of Suffering
First of all, there are two things you have to know as background of this story. You have to know that Jacob came from a family chosen by grace and a family filled with suffering. Jacob had a grandfather named Abraham. One day God comes to Abraham and says, "Abraham, look at the world. Do you see the misery? Do you see the cruelty? Do you see the injustice? ...
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Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He is also the Chairman & Co-Founder of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for ministry in an urban environment.