The Christian Doctrine of
This is an excerpt from the talk and article: God's Purposes for Marriage and Sex. Now what does the doctrine of the trinity have to do with marriage and sex? A lot. According to God the marriage relationship is the best way to understand the trinity and the trinity is the best way to understand the marriage relationship. Otherwise, the doctrine just becomes an academic exercise for theologians. But it turns out to be a very practical concept.
The first purpose for marriage and sex is to reflect God’s oneness. Genesis tells us, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….’”
In order to understand the oneness that two people can experience in a relationship together we need to understand the God who makes that possible. To do that, we’ll have to dive right in to some pretty heavy theology. You’ve learned somewhere that God has three persons yet is one God. Does this mean Christians can’t count? Does this mean we believe in three Gods or one God? The doctrine of God's trinity can be very confusing but once we begin to understand it we see how God experiences the ultimate oneness in relationship. In order to make any sense of this, we have to distinguish between what the one refers to and what the three refers to.
The one refers to God's essence or nature, in other words, His Godness, His divine essence. No one else in the spiritual or physical universe has the divine essence. Indeed, there can not be any other because there is no room for any more beings with a divine essence. God’s divine essence takes up the whole universe. The divine essence can not be divided between more than one god, otherwise it is not truly the divine essence. It is not that God is merely characterized by a divine essence; God is the divine essence and the divine essence is God.
The three refers to three distinct persons. All the persons of the triune God share the divine essence. There is only one divine essence, but there are three persons who share this same nature. The members of the trinity are distinct (The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Does it sound like I just contradicted myself? I haven’t because the difference is this. The gods of mythology are distinct beings that act independently. They each have their own agenda. They are seen scheming against and fighting with each other. In 180 degree contrast, the members of the trinity are perfectly and deeply interrelated. They have an unbreakable unity.
Paul Copan, in his book, That’s Just Your Interpretation, describes this remarkable relationship.
For in the divine life there is no isolation, no insulation, no secretiveness, no fear of being transparent to another…So while each of the divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) fully possesses the same essence (each one can be called God), they share a common, mutually indwelling life together. Think of a triangle (which necessarily has three angles). We cannot remove one of the angles and still have a triangle. All three angles must coexist. Similarly...We cannot remove one person from this intimate relationship and have the other two remain intact....Because the members of the Trinity share the same essence and mutually indwell one another, they also act as one rather than in isolation from one another. Even though three distinct wills exist within the Trinity, only one will is ultimately expressed, which indicates the deep unity of the Godhead.
So we could answer the question, "What is God like?” by saying, "a triangle," but a triangle isn't personal. Instead, God answers the question with, "I am giving you a marriage relationship not just to know intellectually what I am like but to experience what I am like.” What a teacher!
In a marriage relationship we can experience the wonder and beauty of being two distinct individuals with two distinct wills being united by sharing the essence of humanness.
Copan, Paul. That’s Just Your Interpretation: Responding to Skeptics Who Challenge Your Faith. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks. p. 124.
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