LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 209

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 25. Of Marriage. Paragraph 2: “Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.”

These words about marriage aren’t exactly endearing. They sound a bit cold. I don’t think they really are, but in written form like this they sound like the kind of thing you maybe wouldn’t want to say in your vows. What wife wants to look at her husband in that gorgeous white dress and say they’re doing it for, “The increase of mankind with a legitimate issue”? I say this jokingly. This confession is very helpful. It is here too for me. As I write on it, I’m reminded of my duties in marriage. Marriage isn’t primarily about anything but keeping covenant as a living example of the Faith. Perhaps the highest thing ever said about marriage is, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32. There’s your motivation to love, ladies and gentlemen.

My wife is a tool in God’s hand. Sometimes I’m the smoldering flax. Sometimes I’m more like rebellious Judah and she’s Babylon, but God still wields her. My wife is such a teacher for me. She’s a believer like me. She’s so very much smarter than me. She is that Proverbs 31 woman. She says things in passing that echo in my head for years. And it’s simple things like when she said, “It’s just a phase in our lives” about us raising four kids when several were still in diapers and all those late nights. The other day she talked about contentment in where God has us. The words she said were brimming with wisdom. Not quite Revelation 23 wisdom, of course, but truly blessings from our God. She was ordained by God for my “help” as the confession says.

The talk of a “help” here is as old as the marriage relationship God ordained. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18. That’s exactly what my wife is to me. And I to her in many ways also. I know that I also help her in her life. She and I are the primary means of sanctification in each other’s lives.

We also now have four kids. #straightpride. At the beginning of my walk with Jesus, I always thought of the, “Two becoming one flesh” thing as just the sexual union we first began enjoying on the night of our wedding. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that the verse talks first of two people making babies. God chose to involve us as reproducers in his creation. What a privilege to “legitimate issue” other people! They say a triangle is the strongest form in nature. Husbands, wives and kids are the triangles of life.
Sex is important to marriage. Men don’t be selfish. It’s better to give than to receive (I say this reverently). Sex is very important to God’s intent for love and every vineyard worker knows that wine needs age. God designed every pleasure there is to sex. What an amazing gift. Yes, it’s taking many to hell forever where all that it represents in love will be lost forever to them (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) but we who submit to God in it get to enjoy an undefiled bed…on our way to an undefiled eternity. Having a wife for me to have sex with, “Prevents uncleanness” they say here. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” This is in reference to sex between a man and his wife. A man (or woman’s) sexual mental wanderings are curbed by the pleasing sexual union of marriage. It is a way to buffet one’s body in the world.

A godly marriage is to be a blessing in every way. Not always pure bliss, no, but something we’re truly able to brag on regarding our spouses when they’re not around. For believers, the recipe is given. Stuff like seeking God individually then together, abstinence before marriage, lawful union, putting the other first, repenting for sin, open communication, sex, grace extended, etc. If the cookies taste bad, it’s our fault, not the recipe’s. The recipe is perfect! Somewhere along the way we can sometimes just fail to follow it. The good news is that it’s never too late. In submission to Jesus, if your marriage isn’t a blessing to you and to your lawful spouse, repent, and put the other first as you seek God to make it good with the help of your church leaders.

Joseph Pittano

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