Sermon for the Second Wednesday in Advent – 12/13/2023
Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer
Titus 2:1-15, Psalm 127
That portion of God’s holy Word for consideration this evening is our first reading from Titus chapter 2 with special emphasis on verses eleven through fifteen which read as follows:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Thus far the Scriptures.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It is true that every one of us has our beginning from a mom and a dad. Without these two people, we would not be here. And, as we discussed last week, God establishing the institution of marriage way back in the garden of Eden, even before the fall into sin, in order to give a stable and secure place in which to rear children. Without children, there is no society. Without society continuing, almost everything we waste time arguing about in our culture stops mattering instantly. That is to say, what sense does it make for us to discuss matters of our military and national security, our economy, or moral issues if there is no next generation to continue to live here? Families, then, are the basic building block in society and without strong families we cannot have a strong society, nation, or culture.
Now you may think that it is strange that I am talking about what is a political and cultural issue. And if you do, I wish you to remember that our Lord is not just the King of the Church, but the King of all creation. And even though the Lord does not rule openly in the secular world, that is the world outside of the Christian church, it is still His world and He does still order and rule it.
As such, there is no issue in society that does not have a theological component to it. No matter what we see or what we address, we do so by drawing on foundational ideas that we have about the world, who we human beings are, how we know truth, what right and wrong are, and how all these things fit together in the grand scheme of things. And, as we Christians know from the teaching and clear witness of God’s Word, all things are from God and under God.
Let’s take an example pertinent to our theme this Advent: singlehood. Now, the world around us sees being single as a matter of power and one’s autonomy. That is to say, one can only find joy or satisfaction in their single-hood (or not, as the case may be) if they will it to be so. One’s relationship status in the secular mindset is a product purely of one’s choices. And if those decisions match the state of affairs, then this is a good thing. If not, then people are right in feeling like something has been taken from them. This is why, for example, people are cheered when leaving a relationship for unbiblical reasons such as “I fell out of love” or “she doesn’t feel romantic to me like I’d like” or “he doesn’t try as hard as he used to”. Why does the secular world cheer? Because it sees the only genuine moral principle at play in any decision as whether or not a person gave his or her consent to a situation, that is, chose to be there. Anything that gets in the way of these choices is seen as a moral evil. Anything that enables them is good. It is simplistic, but this is the way many people today think about moral issues and try to navigate through them. For another example, think of the famous creed that is confessed by pro-abortion advocates: my body, my choice. This is a straightforward example of what I’m getting at here.
So why do I bring this up? Real life is far messier than this. Sometimes we end up in relationship, marital, of familial situations that we would rather not be in. This is true for many people who are single longer than they would like. So what advice do we give such people? St. Paul notes that being single is a great benefit to the church. That is to say, being single – or married for that matter – is not for our selfish amibitions or to simply sate our fleshly desires. Those things may happen either in singleness or marriage. Whatever our relationship status, we are to pursue godliness and Christian service. The reason Paul says it is an advantage to be unmarried like him is not that marriage is bad or that singleness is superior, but that it allows a freedom of time and resources that a family does not that can be used for good ends that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve. In other words, being single is an opportunity for prayer and Christian living that is unique in the lives of the saints.
The other complicating matter in these discussions is a matter of terminology. The world around us loves to talk about orientation, which encourages us to do the opposite of what St. Paul counsels us to do here, that is, pursue virtue and godliness. Sexual orientation assumes that lust is good and right, hence its call to define ourselves as “straight”, “bisexual”, or “gay”. The Scriptures, on the other hand, use a different set of terms. There are really only three that matter for this discussion: celibacy, that is, being unmarried, marriage, and chastity, that is, not doing sexual things outside of what God has ordained. And, because I know you’re not going to hear this anywhere else, your identity is not based in what attracts you, physically speaking, but in who God declares and makes you to be through Jesus Christ and faith in Him.
So what does this mean for the single folks? Well, don’t sleep around. Don’t party it up. Don’t live a selfish life. If you do date, do so looking for marriage, not for enjoyment. And if you don’t end up marrying someone, then serve your neighbors and extended family. Be a great aunt or uncle. Be a good sister or brother. Take care of your parents. There is no shortage of opportunities in this life to do meaningful things for those around you. Being single is not an excuse to ignore them and indulge in selfishness.
What of other relationships in the family? Next week, we will look at the relationships between parents and children. But besides this, there are grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncles. Besides these, there are And these relationships bring with us obligations to love and to serve. Now, this isn’t a complicated thing. Those who are above you in your family like deserve respect and honor as the fourth commandment dictates, those who are your peers or who are younger than you should receive the service and love that a Christian is obligated to render.
Now one of the great truths about family life is that families can be difficult. There are black sheep relatives, bad habits, dysfunctions, and years of baggage. While we are to love and care for our families, it can be hard to like them. So, by way of practical advice, it is good to get together with your family. It is good to spend holidays together. And, barring some catastrophic sin done either by you or against you, it is good to see them, even if it is difficult. Why can I say this? Our Lord, who not only is our Savior, but also the prime example to us for love and care, became a man to suffer and die for us even though we sinners deserved nothing but the Lord’s righteous wrath. And if Christ can set aside His right to divine justice in order to give us mercy, we can put up with our family and in-laws for an afternoon. I can’t promise that it will be enjoyable, but our lives are not for our sakes, but for the sake of those God has put in our lives and that sometimes means doing things we don’t like or enjoy.
Family can be complicated, messy, and unpleasant. It can be hard to be single, especially this time of the year. Regardless of one’s station in the family or relationship status, we Christians are to rest in the salvation of our Lord and to live as He would have us. We should care for our families. We should encourage them to godliness, particularly in coming to our churches where the Word is preached and the sacraments given for our salvation. And even and especially when its hard, we should give thanks for our families that God has given us.
In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 1 Corinthians 7:7