“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4 (NIV2011)
Much of our culture would challenge the command to “honor” marriage today. It wasn’t that different in Biblical times either. That’s why, in his closing comments, the writer of Hebrews encourages Christ followers to “give honor to marriage….” Literally, the Amplified Bible puts it like this from the original language:
“Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things….” Hebrews 13:4a (AMP)
Here are three reasons why the writer of Hebrews would give such a command:
- Sexual immorality. In his chapter on Biblical marriage, the Apostle Paul wrote: “… because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 (HCSB) The writer of Hebrews said, “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage….” Hebrews 13:4 (NLT) Impurity destroys relationships inside and outside of marriage. For our own benefit, God gave us a command that would enrich our relationships and honor marriage. His desire was to use marriage to display His love for the church, a love that was pure, unconditional and sacrificial. When others see your marriage, do they get a sense of God’s love? Honoring marriage points others to Christ’s unfailing love.
- False spirituality. More common in biblical culture than today, there was a false teaching that suggested marriage was for those who weren’t spiritual or couldn’t exercise self-control. “You were more spiritual if you remained single.” This false asceticism led Paul to warn Timothy of false teachers that had turned away from the true faith and taught that it was wrong to marry. (1 Timothy 4:1-3) The truth is that it was God Himself who gave the first woman to the first man, establishing marriage before the institution of a government or the church. We honor marriage because God honors marriage.
- A third reason to honor marriage was due to the prevalence of divorce among the Jews. Jewish men were writing certificates of divorce for any and every reason, leaving their wives helpless in a male-dominated culture with little or no support. They were dishonoring the Lord in their commitment to their wives, incurring God’s judgment on themselves.
So how do we honor marriage today? We hold marriage in high honor when we are faithful to one another. We honor marriage when we pray for one another and with one another. We honor marriage when we pray with our sons and daughters for their future spouses and teach them the biblical meaning of marriage. And we honor marriage when we encourage the marriages of those around us to stay strong and healthy.
If the current of culture has caused your marriage to drift or even suffer the painful separation of divorce, there is hope! God offers grace and a new beginning that can restore our lives. We honor Him and marriage when we turn our hearts back to Him. He can heal the brokenness in our hearts and give us a hope and a future.