In the United States, marriage is treated more cheaply than any place else. Permissiveness today is society’s standard and moral restraint is relegated to the archives. Experimentation is accepted as normative. But God did not establish the morality of the twenty-first century. Your prime time TV shows American society has no plans to change their views on morality. Fortunately, God wrote down His rules on the subject.
Hebrews 13:4 involves responsibilities to our spouse and families. The Writer goes from the universal picture of the Blood Covenant in previous verses to our home life. God knows that the strength of a nation begins in the home and that sex sins tear both home and nation apart.
“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed, undefiled: but whore mongers and those who commit adultery, God will judge!”
The Writer is not saying here that to be married is better than being celibate or single. Marriage here refers to it being God-ordained; not polluted by man’s sins. There are zero third parties of either sex allowed into the union. The sacred union is violated when either party is unfaithful. And regardless of the opinion of the so-called experts, no extra-marital affair is “casual.” It always breeds disaster in a marriage. Few examine the events that lead to adultery.
Many don’t see marriage as having to involve God Himself, that it is His divine law for co-habitation. It is not an alternate lifestyle for the “narrow-minded.” Paul warned in the latter days, many would forbid marriage (I Timothy 4:3), and due to the cheapening of the marital vows, many today opt to stay single.
Look at the plain common sense of actually being married, at the right time, in God’s will, to the right person. People have marriages in all cultures and in all countries. Is it simply a “global tradition” or did God put it into the hearts of the human race that marriage, done right is a dynamic blessing?
In this verse, marriage refers to the wedding feast. Marriage was intended to be a life-long personal celebration—a love feast. The wording here in the Greek means, “Let marriage be in all means honorable, in all circumstances.”
The word “honor” is timios, meaning “esteemed; of a great value; especially dear; free from contamination.” The same word precious, concerning Jesus’ precious blood, is used in I Peter 1:19. Jesus’ blood that He shed for our sins, is as “precious and especially dear” as your marriage should be! Think it over. Only when you honor your marriage is it “free from contamination” both spiritually and physically. Note that it is God who honors marriage, for in this same verse we see that He is the One who will judge those who do the opposite of holy wedlock—the unholy fornicators. We need, as couples, to meditate on the seriousness of this verse. This is not just a recommendation; it’s God’s holy law of marriage.
“Marriage is honorable.” God intends it should be honored by all, even those who tempt you on the job or in your church.
But exactly how is marriage to be honored? God married the first couple, who were also the first parents. We should seek to be married with God as our witness, in God’s house, by a minister who knows God personally. Jesus honored marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding in Cana. God honors marriage by comparing it in Ephesians 5 to Christ and His Church.
Marriage is honorable “in all,” in every respect, not just by avoidance of sexual sins. There are many “perks” and positive rewards for marital purity. You can only know this joy by your steadfast fidelity, but you cannot experience them in your marriage if you violate this verse.
The “marriage bed” refers to copulation. There is nothing dishonorable about marital copulation. God gave us His precious covenant of marriage for companionship. (Genesis 2:18), so why even consider trying to cheapen what He has deemed as precious as His blood? Sexual sins always offend God. Always.
God demands that marriage be kept honorable, individually and nationally. Fornication dishonors marriage before marriage and adultery dishonors marriage during the marriage. “To defile the bed” was a common expression for adultery in the first century. Godly couples keep their beds undefiled. “Defiled” in the Greek is miaino, a common New Testament word for fornication and adultery. Even a superficial study of the words will show that fornication and adultery are terms that are used interchangeably throughout the Word of God.
“Undefiled” is a miaino, or “that which is not defiled”. To stay loyal to your spouse is not being closed-minded. Monogamy guarantees a closed biological sexual system composed of two people, free from the possibility of contamination by the world with its STD’s and AIDS. Sexual diseases can enter those sacred organs by others in a society that has dishonored monogamous marriage with an open biological system. The so-called “open-mindedness” concerning sex tends to destroy families, not strengthen them.
Marriage is intended by God to prevent the defiled bed, for by honoring one another, there is no shame as there is with adultery and fornication. Honorableness breeds happiness.
Notice the contrast in the two parts of this single verse with the word “but.” The word can be translated “for” God will judge sexual sinners. Why? Because they disregard His warnings concerning morality. This single verse stands as a total censure of sex sins. God knows who is guilty. The Writer says nothing here about being “found-out”.
“Whoremongers” is the same Greek word as “fornicator.” A pornous is a man who fornicates. Thus this covers a very wide range of sex sins. (We get our word “pornography” from this word.) Why don’t we, like God, call all sins by their correct names?
The words, “and adulterers” refers to immoral, unmarried persons. God will judge both types of sinners, married or not, without consulting Hollywood. God covers all the bases: extramarital sex and sex outside of marriage. God knows how sexual sins degrade and defile all persons involved, for it cheapens His holy covenant of marriage. “Let no immorality be named among you as saints” (Ephesians 5:3).
This scripture tells us that “God will judge.” God establishes the moral universe as certainly as the physical one. The seventh commandment still applies in the New Testament, for marriage is sacred: instituted by God back in Eden. He did not place people on the earth to be immoral.
His judgment is severe upon such sinners. They will be judged for it on judgment day if they have not repented. Sex sin will always be sin and God will always judge it as sin. What does sexual sin breed? STD’s, unwanted pregnancy, date rapes, broken homes, broken lives, nervous breakdowns, even murders. This is why we are commanded to “flee immorality” in I Corinthians 6:18, for “the immoral man sins against his own body”—not only against God and one’s partner. Sexual sin is not just sin against God and the other person, but also against one’s self.
Track David’s life and career from the day he sinned with Bathsheba. He bred family problems and kingdom problems. If you succumb to such sins, your family will suffer and your career will suffer. I Peter 3:7 commands us to “give honor unto the wife, as the weaker vessel, as being heirs together of the grace of life.” Nothing dishonors her more than adultery. Nothing. God demands moral purity in order to honor you as a couple. Your body isn’t your own, even when you are single, how much less when married!
The Writer of Hebrews doesn’t say that sex is the heart of marriage, but he does point out here to the consummation of marriage in the act of sexual union, thus representing all aspects of marriage. God will honor and God will judge. Consider this well, all you who are heading for the altar of marriage. As you swear your vows before God, so you set yourself up for judgment if you defile your marriage bed.
Marriage is sanctified and established by God in the Old Testament and reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. The promise of the fact that “God will judge” should promote the holiness and sanctity of your marriage.