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“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” – Heb 13:4

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Many married people today do not hold their marriage in honor and that has always been the genesis of their marital crisis. Marriage is not just a partnership of two business men; it is a union of two people as one flesh! Marriage is not a contract but a lifetime commitment. My definition might sound a bit old fashioned because we are in a world where divorce has been glorified and seen as normal. In fact, people enter marriages this days having divorce at the back of their minds in case anything comes up in the future. Unfortunately, it has only caused more harm than good as we have cases of divorce increasing every day.

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I think the bible verse quoted above can help people heal the wounds in their marriages if they can open up their hearts for the change that comes through the word of God. That verse is not for unmarried couples who are living together or who are trying to solve their relationship issues. But then, what is marriage and what is the marriage bed?

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Marriage is the union of a man and a woman to become one flesh and God is the one who does this union. Marriage was instituted by God “for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” – Genesis 2:24. Paul also quoted this in Ephesians 5:31 which he called a profound mystery. He likened the union of marriage to the union of Christ and us who are His body! Marriage is not casual, it is very spiritual! First we see something here, marriage isn’t established when a man leaves his father and mother, that is only a step towards marriage! It becomes sealed when the man is joined to his wife and who joins them together?

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In certain traditions, the parents of the couples joins them and give them away to each other while in most Christian churches, the Pastor joins them! However, those are just what the eyes can see but there is more to that! God is the one who joins a man and a woman together, the moment a man finds a wife and fulfill certain obligations which show his commitment to that woman, God joins them together and pronounce them one! How do I know this? Jesus said in Mark 10:9 “therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”. Now you see the joining of a man and a woman is done by God and not by any man. Matthew 19:6 explains the level of intimacy achieved by the reason of what God has joined, it says “so they are no longer two, but one flesh!”

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Now, by the definition of marriage you discover that marriage isn’t just God’s idea but the manifestation of His word. The institution of marriage was clearly founded on God’s word; He said “it is not good for a man to be alone… For this reason a man leaves his father and mother to be joined to his wife”. Anyone who enters into marriage did not enter into casual relationships; he or she has entered into a very serious union where God has an oversight! God honors His word and marriage is a reality of His word. Marriage is a serious affair to God. Even while courtship is going on, God is watching and waiting for the day the couples will tell Him “we are ready to be joined as one”. This is why it is dangerous to say what we don’t mean. Don’t tell a woman you will marry her when you don’t mean it, don’t put rings on the finger of a woman when you know you wouldn’t be taken further steps. God is not pleased with it because He is equally interested in the progress of our relationships. So, marriage is God’s word which becomes reality at the agreement of two persons to become one and build a world based on their union. God honors marriage like no man’s business and He is interested in what happens even on the bed. This is where another question comes in. What is marriage bed?

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The word “marriage bed” appeared only in Hebrews 13:4 and it isn’t just talking about a bed. Marriage bed according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as “marriage in general or the sexual relation that married people have”. Since the word is used only once in the Bible, it suggests that the writer was referring to every form of intimacy that couples share together. If it is about a bed, then one may just have to leave the bed in their room to have an affair with someone else on a separate bed but it is not about a bed. Unfaithfulness in marriage is not also about sex alone; in fact it is unfaithfulness that leads to premarital sex. Now let us do a quick study of our anchor bible passage.

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“Marriage is honorable in all”, the value of marriage is so high that it should be held in high esteem, precious, greatly priced and very dear in all things! This means that wherever we go as married people, we are to have it in mind that we are in a union that matters a lot. We don’t take decisions without having our partner in consideration and we don’t do anything as though we have ourselves all to ourselves. Like I will always say, in marriage, the man and the woman looses their rights to themselves and begins to live for each other. This is the only way marriage can be enjoyed! Our partners are supposed to be our best friend, our most dependable companion and our most trusted ally. When a partner isn’t holding his or her marriage in such high esteem, he or she is being unfaithful. The biggest reason why certain couples don’t value their marriage is because they aren’t living for one another!

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“And the bed undefiled”, we need to clearly understand what the writer was communicating. Now this wasn’t what he was saying “honor your marriage above all and do not defile the bed you bought as couples”. New Living Translation gives one of the most accurate and clear rendering of that verse, “give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage…” You see that? You cannot be faithful to your marriage when you do not honor it! I had once met someone who said to me “I want to marry a man who will let me be who I am”, well it may sound nice but it is selfish. In marriage, partners continue to adjust in order to remain emotionally fit. In marriage, couples continue to change certain aspects of their life to accommodate one another and that can only happen when they give honor to their marriage. I know how much I have been able to deal with certain things in my life as a result of my relationship with someone and I know how much the other person has been able to adjust. She would say “I don’t like that cloth it doesn’t look good on you” and I see myself dumping a cloth I have always loved without grudges simply because I have a higher honour for that relationship and I remember I would say “I think a different hairstyle would have been better” and she would suddenly adjust. While my own experiences aren’t a perfect model because I am not yet married, I think I have also spoken with so many couples who had shared with me how they stopped certain things because of their partners. So, faithfulness in marriage entails total commitment to your partner both physically and spiritually. You can’t be married and your best friend is someone else… It is unfaithfulness! Even if you didn’t marry a friend, you can suddenly start building friendship with your partner. Friendship is deliberately built overtime. Now you see that marriage bed isn’t about the bed? It is about marriage in its totality. Both the intimacy and activities of marriage are to be enjoyed exclusively by the united couples. When couples consciously work on these, they will not have problems in their marriage. Problems starts to set into marriages when partners begins to share commitments with other persons, unhealthy comparison starts setting in and suddenly they become discontented with their one another. 

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God is not pleased when couples are not committed to each other. People often think that God becomes displeased only when the act of sexual intercourse takes place. No, God is not pleased from the inception of unfaithfulness. God is not pleased when a man spends much time outside with friends than he spends with his family, God is not pleased when a partner starts showing another person affections ignoring his or her partner. The word ‘bed undefiled’ isn’t talking about a bed but about marriage in general and all the intimacies associated with it. 

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We saw earlier that marriage is the reality of what God has pronounced and anyone who dishonours marriage is dishonouring God and His word. Marriage isn’t another tradition of men or things people do for pleasure, marriage is as serious as salvation, no wonder the Roman Catholic Church includes it as part of their sacraments. You now see reasons why Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:7 “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 (ESV)”. Peter was writing to an audience where women had little or no say but generally we can see that unfaithfulness hinders people from receiving from God just like every other disobedience against God’s word. Unfaithfulness is the only platform the devil can use in destroying a marriage.

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Marriage is God’s word, honour it!

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#GracefulGeorge

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