Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Marriage is ordained by God. He set the parameters of marriage in Genesis 2:24.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
We see here that marriage is between one man and one woman. We know that God has always condemned sodomy. We also know that God never intended for one man to have more than one wife at a time or for a woman to have more than one husband at a time. The first polygamist was a descendant of Cain. We read of that in Genesis 4:19:
Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
We see that godless people will always distort God’s truth. Polygamy became a real problem even for God’s people. We know that David had more than one wife at a time. We know that his son Solomon is known for having 700 wives and 300 concubines. That was not God’s design and it caused much grief for Solomon and for the nation.
By the time that Jesus Christ came to this earth marriage was so distorted that the Pharisees came to Him to tempt Him with the current practice of marriage at that time. Divorce happened in the Old Testament. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that Moses “suffered” the people to divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Jesus also reminded them that from the beginning it was not so. God did not teach that divorce was acceptable. Divorce is the result of sin in the relationship. It could be the result of one of the two getting saved and the other one deciding they do not want to live with a born again Christian. Regardless of the reason, the Bible tells us that God hates divorce.
Jesus did not add anything to what God had already declared in Genesis 2:24. He simply reminded the people what God had already declared.
Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Jesus did not leave an opening for divorce and remarriage either.
Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Here we see another important reason to use God’s Word, not man’s perversion of God’s Word. Jesus gave one exception for putting away and that takes place during the betrothal period, prior to the consummation of the marriage.
In Matthew 1 we read that Joseph wanted to put away Mary privily.
Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant and he also knew he was not the father. The only other way she could have become pregnant is if she had committed fornication with some other man. That was the only conclusion that Joseph could come to. God intervened in this situation and explained to Joseph what had taken place with Mary. She was not a runaround. She had not been unfaithful to her betrothal vows. God had worked in a special way in Mary’s life to cause conception in a unique manner. Joseph accepted God’s explanation and he took Mary to be his wife, but you will notice that He did not “know” her until after she gave birth to the Lord Jesus Christ. The marriage was not consummated until after the birth of Jesus.
Jesus did not contradict any prior teaching on marriage. He did not corrupt the sanctity of marriage with some new teaching. He affirmed that marriage is between one man and one woman and that it was to last the life of the couple.
There are questions around what constitutes a marriage. In today’s secular world, a man and a woman might decide they want to live together and our society calls that “common-law” marriage. If we look at the Bible we see that God instituted marriage. Thus a proper marriage should be conducted under God’s authority and with His blessing. There are many added features to weddings today that are optional. A marriage does not need to be expensive.
It is important to note that the government has no business trying to regulate marriage. They do not understand what a marriage is. To them two men can get “married,” or two women can get “married.” As we already noted, the government recognizes a couple that just want to live together as a type of marriage.
We know that over time the marriage ceremony took on more detail than at the beginning. Isaac saw Rebekah and took her into his mother’s tent and she became his wife. Later on (starting in the book of Exodus) we read of the betrothal period that preceded the actual wedding. That period generally lasted a year and gave the man and the woman time to prepare things needed for their marriage.
In the book of Hosea God talked of betrothing Israel to Himself. It is obvious that the practice of the betrothal was not against God’s will.
In the New Testament we read that Jesus went to a wedding in Cana and we know there was a celebration involved in that wedding event. Guests were invited. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb. That is the supper that all should be at, but few will be in attendance because of their rejection of God.
It is important to note that God uses the institution of marriage as a picture of the salvation that is afforded to man through Jesus Christ. That is why a marriage should never be entered into lightly. There should be no thought or intent to get divorced if things do not work out. There is no need for a pre-nuptial agreement that details how things will be split up if the marriage does not work out. A marriage will always work out if the couple chooses to follow God’s way. A marriage should always be entered into by a God-fearing couple and it should always be conducted in a God-honouring manner. If the couple is saved and walks humbly with God, He can and He will bless the marriage.
As we see in our text, God says “marriage is honourable in all.” Even lost people should get married. God also adds to that a warning. The Greek word translated as “whoremonger” refers to a male prostitute and a fornicator. It refers to promiscuous sensuality. An adulterer is one who is married but unfaithful to his spouse. God accused the nation of Israel of committing spiritual adultery with Him. In our context, it is referring to the marriage institution.
In Ephesians 5 God shows us that the marriage is to be a picture of the relationship of Jesus Christ with His bride — the church. On earth there are many true local churches. In the context of Ephesians 5, there is a day coming when all the New Testament saints will be in heaven. They will constitute one true church at that time.
A saved person cannot lose their salvation. That is abundantly clear in the Bible. That is not a ticket to careless living by the saved person. Those who want to take that approach do not understand salvation. A person that is truly saved has been changed by God. The love of God dwells in them and they desire to please God. They will be tempted to sin and sometimes they will even fall for the temptation, but God will chasten His own child to bring him or her back to where they need to be.
God does not allow for spiritual whoremongers or spiritual adulterers in the body of Christ. So too, God does not accept whoremongers or adulterers in the natural marriage. He will judge them. They can be forgiven, but if they are forgiven, they also do not continue in the sin.
Marriage is a beautiful thing designed by God and blessed by God in all. Those who are married and lost will miss out on the special blessings that God has in store for His children. Those who are saved and married can enjoy those special blessings and can be a picture of the blessing of being a part of God’s family. A good marriage will require work on the part of both the man and the woman. A good marriage will begin with the couple being saved and then humbly submitting to God’s will for their lives. As they grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will also grow in their relationship with one another.