I personally enjoy seeing the pictures in the paper of couples who are announcing their intentions to be married or of those persons who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We look at the pictures of those celebrating their 50th and comment to ourselves,“Boy, they really changed since they were married!” In these days when so many have treated marriage as merely a piece of paper and have no reservations about living together without marriage let me offer this article in a way that is not personally judgmental but in a way that brings the light of God’s Word in a loving way.
God’s Word, I believe, is the final word on matters of morality and living that is pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:4 is pretty clear when it says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers (fornicators) and adulterers God will judge”. Let’s look at that verse and examine what it is saying. First, it says, “Marriage is honorable in all”. God recognizes marriage among Christians and non-Christians as an honorable institution. Gen. 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh”. Those of us that have been married for quite a number of years can attest to the fact that we wouldn’t want it any other way. Are there bumps in the road and difficulties to work through? You better believe there are. It is then that we call on the Lord to help us through an issue and soon we are rejoicing for the victory.
In premarital counseling I always emphasized learning to say “I’m sorry” and “I love you” often. Most husbands will probably agree with me that when the wife says, “I love you” we can remember that for a decent length of time, but we soon discover that the wives are wired differently than we are. They need to hear it several times a day. When we go out for a while we need to kiss them and say “I love you”, when we end a phone conversation we need to say I love you. Marriages are something that should be constantly refined and improved upon. The wife and husband can both suggest ways that the marriage can be enhanced. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you at this point and admit that after 50 years of marriage I still have a lot to work on. I tell my wife that I would rather that she not give me more than one or two things to improve upon at one time.
I’m sure that pastors agree with me that attempting to devote yourself to your church family and to your family at home can be a tight-wire that you walk. Oh, how we need wisdom in this area in not neglecting either family. May I take a moment to suggest to those persons who are going through troubled waters in your marriages that you do two things: call on the Lord to help you and seek the counsel of one of our good pastors in the area. They may have gone through the same difficult issue that you are going through and can offer some very helpful advice. God created marriage and He wants it to function properly in our lives. When you call on Him He will come to your rescue. Calmly discuss the issue but avoid heated arguments which are nonproductive.
The next phrase in our text is “and the bed undefiled.” The Word is saying that sex is wonderful and wholesome in God’s sight. The blending of two persons in expressing their love in an intimate way has God’s smile of approval providing it is in the context of marriage. That expression of love will sometimes produce children that you will enjoy and have the privilege of forming and guiding their lives for many years. It is such a joy to see them grow up and participate in sports and other activities and later on you may drive by a playground and wish that you could see your child or children out there playing just one more time. I know that children go through behaviors that don’t always please us, but let’s remember that our teenage days weren’t perfect either. We should pray for them daily and train them the best we can and leave the results to the Lord.
Finally, the verse says, “but whoremongers (fornicators) and adulterers God will judge”. Again, sex is blessed of God in marriage but any sex outside of marriage is certain to bring God’s judgment. One might say “Others are doing it: why can’t I?” The answer is because God forbids it. The promise of judgment here is just as certain as any other favorable promise of blessing upon us in God’s Word. The Scripture declares that it will come upon those who have sex outside of marriage whether they are single or married. What it does not say is “when it will come”. It may be a matter of days or years but it will come. I have never been chastened of the Lord but what I knew instantly the reason for it. You, likewise, do not know what form the judgment will come but when it comes you most likely will recognize it as the chastening hand of God.
May I conclude this article by saying that when we turn from our sins and ask God’s forgiveness He will lovingly and graciously forgive us. For those who are contemplating a live-in relationship or those married persons who are flirting with the notion of being unfaithful to your spouse take heed. There is a big warning lantern ahead attempting to spare you some dire consequences that will lie ahead. It is predictable that you will end up saying, “this was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made.” If you are not sure the one you are living with outside of marriage is God’s choice for you then break off the relationship and wait for the right one. If you are already married then honor those wedding vows you made and guard that marriage with much prayer and faithfulness. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a lot more wedding pictures in the newspaper? Then the blessings of God, rather than His chastenings, will attend you. God bless your upcoming marriages.
The writer is the pastor emeritus of the Christian Tabernacle in Sidney.