Let Marriage Be Held in Honor

"Love and marriage, love and marriage. It's an institute you can't disparage." So goes the words of the old song. Unfortunately, marriage is disparaged at many times and in many ways. The running joke is that a spouse is nothing more than "the old ball and chain." This sentiment has become more than a joke, for many people have a genuine disdain for marriage and regard it as tantamount to bondage. Radical feminists actually view marriage as slavery for a woman. Many men and women think that marriage robs them of their freedom so that now fewer people are getting married. Even among more traditionally-minded people, marriage has become a low priority. Young people often seek to achieve all of their other goals -- education, career, income, etc. -- above and before they seek marriage.

According to the Scriptures, no one should disparage the institution of marriage in any way. In Hebrews 13:4, the Scripture says,

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

This instruction is universal. Marriage should be held in honor among all, including the married, the unmarried, the young, and the old. It should also be honored within the church and in society. Even governmental authorities should honor marriage, for it is the first institution of society, and its presence in any society creates stability and peace for all people.

Honor for marriage begins with the institution itself. Marriage stands as a witness to the original creation of woman and her purpose. When all else in God's original creation was good (Gen. 1:31), the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). From Adam's rib, God formed the woman, and Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Gen. 2:23). Immediately following this statement, the Scripture departs from the historical narrative and speaks directly to us about marriage. Because of this original creation of the woman, Genesis 2:24 says,

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

To this day, the institution of marriage remains as a reminder and a testimony concerning the woman's creation. For this reason alone, it is worthy of our honor. Certainly, it should never be regarded as a form of bondage, for God instituted marriage to be mutually beneficial to both man and woman.

Individual marriages should be honored as well. It is God who creates every lawful marriage, for the Lord Jesus said, "What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Matt. 19:6). The work of God is always honorable, and it should be respected in every marriage. The marriage of each couple should be highly esteemed by all, for it is good and noble. Milestone anniversaries are worthy of celebration, for they mark the enduring goodness of God's holy institution. Even among young people, marriage should be encouraged, for it is God's design for companionship, the home, and the raising of children.

Married persons are especially bound to honor their own marriages. This is done by treating their marriages as the holy relationships that they are. Husbands may do this by loving their wives in a self-sacrificing way just as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25-33; Col. 3:19). They are also to live with their wives in an understanding and honoring way (1Pet. 3:7). Wives may honor their marriages by submitting to their husbands and loving them (Eph. 5:22-24; Col 3:18; Tit. 2:4-5; 1Pet. 3:1-6). In these ways, husbands and wives may honor the institution of marriage, their own individual marriages, and one another.

Sadly, marriage is increasingly dishonored in our society. In addition to the disparaging attitudes toward marriage mentioned before, the dishonor of marriage has taken on a much more tangible form. Divorce is a plague on our nation that has dishonored marriage, destroyed the home, and shredded the fabric of our society. Fornication and adultery are rampant in our nation. Those who engage in any manner of sexual behavior outside of God-sanctioned marriage have dishonored God's holy institution. In part, God created marriage as a holy means of satisfying sexual needs (1Cor. 7:1-2). Those who reject God's provision through fornication (any illicit sexual behavior, including homosexuality) or adultery (sexual behavior of a person with another person who is not his or her spouse) have dishonored marriage. Again, notice that Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

Regardless of man's attitudes or actions, marriage will always be honorable in the sight of God, for He created it as a holy institution. Men may corrupt themselves with evil thoughts and behaviors, and they may even attempt to corrupt marriage by redefining it, but they can never corrupt God's honorable union of a man and a woman. Therefore, let us honor marriage according to God's holy word so that we may also honor Him.

Stacey E. Durham


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