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Friday 8 July 2022

Hold Marriage In Honour


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Hold Marriage In High Esteem – (Heb. 13:4) The writer of Hebrews tells us – “4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Now, some people might read this, and think, well the writer of Hebrews is saying: consider the union between a man and a woman sacred, and do not let it be broken by adultery. Now, of course the writer IS saying this, but this is not all he is saying. Because to hold “marriage” in “honour”, we have to understand how the Bible defines marriage, and what to honour it actually means.

We have already seen that the Bible flatly rejects how modern Aussies conceive of marriage, and I guarantee most Christians conceive of marriage the same way. Now, this is important, why on earth would the world take Christians seriously on marriage, if Christians themselves don’t follow what the Bible says?

Paul says this about the Jews in Romans 2:21-24 – “21 …you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Paul is saying that the attitude of believers to God’s own word will rub off on the society around them. But if we do not have a strong and submissive attitude to God’s word, and think we can do better, then society will just follow along. 

It is basic and correct to say that adultery is wrong, Muslims get that, ancient Greeks got that, both these cultures executed adulterers. No, if we want to honour marriage, then we need to understand how the Bible talks about marriage. Some only want to define biblical marriage as a committed relationship between a man and a woman, but while this is true, it is so much more than this. So, let’s examine this in detail.

A Sacred Bond - Marriage is a not to be broken bond of unity between a man and his wife – Genesis 2:22-25 says, “22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

I say it is not to be broken, because it is breakable. It is broken all the time. But to break it is to break a unity that is forged in the Spiritual realm by God. This has spiritual and physical ramifications. All of us here from divorced families have scars of various kinds because of this.

Marriage is supposed to be sacred. Not just marriage in general, your marriage, your union, is supposed to be sacred. The relationship between a man and a woman represents the relationship between Christ and his Church, Ephesians 5:31-33 – “31 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Marriage is supposed to represent the relationship between Christ and his Church. Whenever a couple, Christian or otherwise, but especially Christian, divorce, this sends the message to the world that Christ might abandon his church. Now this is a false message, because Christ will not abandon his Church, but it is the message that abandoning a marriage sends. Marriage is supposed to be sacred and life-long, not interchangeable. The Church has a lot to answer for with high divorce rates. What we do sends a message as much as what we say.

High divorce rates show we do not honour marriage as we should.

Wives Submit To Your Husbands – Marriage is a relationship where the woman submits to the man. Let’s see if this fits with our cultures broken view of marriage – Ephesians 5:22-24 – “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Some people try to mitigate what Ephesians says here, by saying that verse 21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But there are several issues with this: 1) It is a deliberately misleading thing modern translations do, by disconnecting all the doing words from the previous verses, and making this one, on its own, connected to the families. This is a continuous passage (illustrate from the KJV). 2) The passage explains how mutual submission in the Church looks for different people, and no one argues that parents should obey their children and submit to them. 3) This would contradict every other thing in the whole bible. Can anyone who has ever read the Bible say that it teaches husbands should submit to their wives?  

Christian marriage is not a ship with two captains. It is a navy where Jesus is the admiral, and he commands the man to captain the ship, and the wife to follow her husband in everything, except sin.

Men Protect Your Wives – This authority of the husband should not be abused. Christian marriage is also a relationship where the man protects the woman – 1 Peter 3:7 - “7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Weaker vessel – what does this mean? It literally is a reference to the physical frame of the human body. In other words, it means exactly what it says it means. But the implication is massive.

It applies to not being violent with your wife, obviously. But it means so much more than that. Understand that your wife’s body is weaker, so be gentle, but also do not ask too much of her. Do not expect her to work day in and day out in the workforce like you do, competing for employment opportunities. She is not built for that. Don’t put burdens on her she doesn’t need to know about. Be considerate of her different needs.

Christian marriage is where men treat their wives as very different to their equal, she is the ‘honoured weaker vessel”. Like a treasured ornament, because that is what the word translated vessel can also mean. The man’s body is for working the hard stuff, the wife’s body is not.  

I understand why so many working women are stressed out today, and why their marriages suffer in so many ways. Because men are asking something of their wives they are not meant to do. If your response is: but she wants to work like this! Then I say, its your job sometimes to protect your wife from herself. She lives in a world telling her she can do everything you can do and more. But this is killing women, and breaking them down.

This is not my opinion, this is written about often. Men expect their wives to work, but also to do all of the traditional mother stuff. This is too much for women: “From the 1950s, when we had the women at home and men as breadwinners, this was the way it was done, she was at home full-time doing all the thinking. We have mentally not moved from that.”[i]

“Women suffer more stress than men because their response to stress is different. Women have a completely different hormonal system, which as a result causes them to react more emotionally and become more exhausted on an emotional level. Furthermore, they are exposed to more stress factors as they have to assume many roles in their day to day.”[ii]

Science literally tells us exactly what the Bible warned us about: if you treat women like men, you will break them down, because they are the weaker vessel. Christians should not do this.

Partner – those of you following along in the NIV will note it says “weaker partner”, which you may says disagrees with my previous point about “partner”, but this is not the case. The word partner is nowhere in that verse in the original Greek, it just proves my point that even modern Christians cannot avoid using that word, so much, that they will even put it in the Bible.

This is an excerpt from a sermon, if you wish to hear the rest click here


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