Together in Christ: 'Giving Honor to Marriage' — Hebrews 13:4

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

— Hebrews 13:4 NLT

Key Thought

Much time, expense, and social media attention can be dedicated to becoming engaged and having a wedding. Couples often invest excessive money, effort, and emotion to "pull off" these events so they look dazzling in their social media posts. This is their way of honoring their marriage process. Meanwhile, they can often overlook the greater need to prepare themselves for and commit themselves to, an intimate, holy, and faithful relationship with the one who is intended to be their life-long marriage partner.

In a sexually permissive world, God's commands about honoring marriage sound shocking. [1] The Holy Spirit's [2] strengthening of the message emphasizing God's judgment on sexual immorality [3] and adultery [4] feels even more jarring. However, as followers of Jesus, we are called to re-tune our values to God's values and define sexual sin as God defines it.

Much like the cultural elitists in New Testament times, modern media outlets portray sexual permissiveness as the norm for those who are considered to be enlightened and unencumbered by moral hang-ups. In their world, sexual fulfillment has become their god, and they believe no one has the right to tell them what is right and wrong. In the process, marriage — and especially fidelity in marriage and before marriage — is held in low regard and considered antiquated. At the same time, exploitation of and violence against women and children, along with the abandonment of women and children, have skyrocketed with the acceptance of sexual permissiveness .

The Spirit used a variety of words to warn us of the sexual sins God judges — e.g., impurity, sexual immorality, lust, adultery, evil desires, adultery, fornication, degrading passions, same-sex relationships, and others. [5] God's design is for each marriage partner to be faithful to the other, as they love, value, and treat each other with respect. [6] While sexual sin can be forgiven, the pain of such sin can create lasting damage in people that can be hard to overcome. [7] God's design for sexual fulfillment in marriage was intended to protect us from this damage and pain.

While society's definitions of sexual sin are quite different from God's, followers of Jesus are called to live by God's standard and "give honor to marriage." They should humbly treat repentant sexual sinners with grace as they lovingly call them back to God to heal their relationships. At the same time, Jesus' followers must examine their lives and deal with their sins appropriately — whether those sins are sexual or involve any other things God characterizes as evil. [8] Repentance and grace characterized the early churches of Jesus as people discovered that their lives could be made new, holy, and whole in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. [9] At the same time, they came to realize that God's design was intended to bless them, protect them, and deepen their relationships.

[1] Hebrews 13:4. The "book" of Hebrews describes itself as a "brief exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22).
[2] Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is intended to be imminently practical (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The writer of Hebrews is unknown, so we follow the example of Hebrews and refer to the author this way: "the Spirit says..." (Hebrews 3:7, 10:15).
[3] Greek πόρνους (pornous), meaning sexual immorality — Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 5:9, 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:10-11; Hebrews 12:16; Revelation 21:8; 22:15; also see Leviticus 20:10-18.
[4] Greek μοιχους (moichous), meaning adultery, defined as any sexual relationship of a married person with someone other than her or his spouse — Mark 7:20-23; 2 Peter 2:13-14; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10.
[5] Romans 1:26-27; Colossians 3:5-6; Matthew 19:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. Also see notes [3] and [4].
[6] 1 Corinthians 7:3-6; Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19.
[7] Matthew 19:8-9: 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.
[8] Mark 7:20-23; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
[9] 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Today's Prayer

Holy and righteous Father, forgive us for straying so far from your intended blessings in sexual intimacy. As we grapple with our sin and the sin of others, we ask for Your strength not to compromise Your definitions for holiness in our intimate relationships and for Your grace in dealing with the pain of violating Your standards. We need the cleansing of the Holy Spirit to make us new and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us honor you in our sexuality as we seek to bless those with whom we have a relationship. In Jesus' name, we ask for Your help. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11


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Illustration of Hebrews 13:4 NLT — Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.