Jack Graham - Honoring Marriage
Now, marriage should be biblically and clearly defined. Because there are those who would not just diminish marriage but even distort and redefine it. So, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we need to know what does the Bible, (because the Bible is our source of authority, not the world, it's the Word) so what does God's word say about marriage? It is this, that God has created the marriage relationship and when He made the man and the woman in the very beginning He created them male and female and said the two should become one, and you can read the account in Genesis chapter 2, but Jesus, He commented on this very important truth about marriage and the definition of marriage in Matthew chapter 19 and verses 4-6
Here's what our Lord said: "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, therefore, a man shall leave his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh". That's miracle mathematics right there! One plus one equals one! It's the miracle of marriage that God has made. The two become one, soulmates. Spiritual lives wedded together. So, they are no longer one flesh, Jesus says verse 6, "What therefore God has joined together let not man separate".
In other words, this marriage relationship is created by God Himself. It is offered to the man and the woman that He brings together in life and in love. It is an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman. It is permanent, supreme in relationship, permanent in commitment, and divine in origin. That is the marriage that is to be honored! For the Scripture says: "Let marriage be held in high honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous".
What a scripture! Honoring marriage. The word honor here means to be highly esteemed, to celebrate marriage, to cherish our homes and our families, to lift high this beautiful relationship that God has made in heaven and on earth called marriage. Let marriage be held in the highest of honor and esteem. Before there was a government, before there was even a church, there was a home and a family built upon a God-given marriage. Again, supreme in relationship. Exclusive of all others. Faithful to one another, honoring God and honoring each other. And this includes both a partnership-the two should become one, soulishly, spiritually linked together. It not only is a partnership, but it is a passion. And that is why He speaks here of the gift of God of the marriage bed, which is to be undefiled.
When it speaks here of the bed, he's not talking about taking a nap. He's talking about sex. I picked up a birthday card; it said on the cover, sex. I opened it up. It said, "Now that I have your attention, Happy Birthday". So now that I have your attention, the marriage bed is to be pure and holy within the bonds, the beauty, the blessing of a marriage relationship. Sex is God's gift to the man, to the woman, to express that oneness. The spiritual and psychological oneness of two lives together expressed in physical love, the act of marriage, and that is a gift from God. Sex is not dirty. We can make it dirty like a beautiful lawn, a lawn on the outside where it belongs is a beautiful thing. But if you take the grass and the dirt and you bring it into the living room suddenly it's a dirty thing. The grass belongs where the grass belongs! Love belongs where love belongs! And this is the marriage relationship.
Again, a gift from God! It is expressed in love, not lust. And there is no sin and no shame in the marriage relationship, in the sexual relationship that husbands and wives share together. And God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden, there's a note there that says "and they were naked and were not ashamed". And so, in that intimacy, in that openness, in that transparency of this marriage relationship, you are to cultivate a healthy, wholesome and, yes, holy sex life in your marriage. It's a way you honor your marriage. And honor the God who gave you one another. Again, no shame! That you are not just roommates when you get married and stay married but you are bedmates as well.
Now there are three purposes for sex according to the Bible. Are you with me? Three purposes: one is, I'm going to start with this one, recreation. Recreation. Fun, enjoyment. God wants you to enjoy this relationship. There is passion and sizzle in a marriage relationship and in this commitment physically to one another. It's, you know, bring the fire to your marriage.
You say, "Well, I'm trying". Well, keep trying! You know a fire is a good thing as long as it's in the fireplace, where it belongs. If you get the fire out of the fireplace and into the house, it can burn the house down! So, God has given us a place for the sexual relationship, committed husbands and wives, together, closer. It is the creation of closeness and intimacy. And this soul relationship that we have, this spiritual relationship. This is why there's no such thing as so-call casual sex. That's a concoction of the media or Hollywood, or someone else. Casual sex. There's nothing casual about the sexual relationship. It's not a hook-up or a link-up or a shack-up. It is a commitment to one another and a closeness that is divinely inspired, and blessed by God. Recreation, intended for pleasure.
Secondly, the sexual relationship in a marriage is for the purpose of procreation. That's obvious, isn't it? We all look around. You were procreated by your parents, delivered by your mother who went deep into the valley to deliver you. And therefore, because of this blessing of procreation, the sexual union brings about the blessing of children and children are a blessing. Even though unfortunately there are so many unwanted children apparently in this country and in the world. Let me remind you that children are a heritage from God, wanted and welcomed into this world. Every child is conceived and created in the womb at conception.
So, the primary purposes of sexual union is recreation, procreation and one other thing; communication. In describing this relationship in the Bible, the Scripture said Adam, the first man, "knew" his wife. This wasn't "Hi, nice to meet you". But he knew her and in knowing her she became a mother. Adam knew his wife and she conceived and gave a son. So, the word "to know" in the Bible is descriptive of this sexual union which is to know one another intimately and so personally that our bodies are even connected. This is life; this is love; this is communication at the deepest level. Again, this is why sex can never be casual; it can never, it should never be adulterated; it should never be carnal or convenient! It is commitment together because sex is sacred before God. It is holy. Not something to be used or abused.
And therefore, the Bible says the marriage bed, see it there in Hebrews 13:4, is to be undefiled, unpolluted. Don't bring anything into your bed into your marriage relationship that would pollute it or destroy it, distort it or destroy it. And, of course, immorality of all kinds whether it is adultery, before marriage or after marriage. Pre-marriage adultery or after marriage adultery. Immorality is the same, and it is always emotionally destructive. If you say, "What's the big deal? Why did God make these rules? Why uses these boundaries"? Because God knows how He made us and created us, to love one another. And anything else beyond His purposes and His plan is destructive, emotionally destructive.
So many of the emotional psychological problems that we see even here at the church in our Life Recovery Ministry and in our pastoral counselling, so much of what we see is a direct result of disobeying God regarding morality, and thus immorality. Polluting the marriage bed. Defiling what God said was pure. We see sexual abuse, we see anxiety, we see fear, of course, shame and guilt. And even suicide, because people do not just break God's commandments; they are broken in breaking the commandments of God. It is emotionally destructive. But not only emotionally destructive, it is physically destructive.
Now you may presume that there are medicines for everything these days, but did you know that sexually transmitted diseases are still epidemic, and growing? And the break down of the body of these diseases that are uncontrollable, often uncontainable. Physically destructive. The Bible says sexual sin is a sin against your own body. And then that's not even to speak of physical destructive of abortion that comes as a result of immorality so often. Unplanned, even unwanted pregnancies. It is physically destructive; out of bounds. And not only physically destructive but culturally destructive. The breakdown of the family that we talked about, the society that is so sex-crazed, sex-saturated. The sexual revolution of the 1960's, I was a teenager in the 1960's, exposed to all of that, as many of you were.
But now we seeing it here some forty, nearly fifty years later. We're seeing the seeds of the sexual revolution of the 1960's bear the bitter fruit and the harvest that comes from hell in disobedience of God. That's what we're seeing! It is domestically destructive. Adulterating the home and the family! And how many families have been broken up because of sexual sin? A parent who decides to sacrifice their children on the altar of their own lust! God knows what is best for you and for you family. Honor your marriage! Lest I haven't been clear, listen to the words of the Scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 to 5: "For this is the will of God", you want to know God's will for your life? "your sanctification", that means purity, and in particular, Christ-likeness, "that you may abstain", there's a rare word these days, "that you may abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles", that is the unbelieving world, "who do not know God;" Listen up! Your body belongs to God!
I was speaking to a lady not too long ago and she was telling Deb and I how a certain person had hit on her in a certain situation. And you know what her response was? "My body belongs to God". That would be a really good answer for some of you young girls who are teenagers, and moms and wives and unmarrieds, both men and women. Your body belongs to God! What? 1 Corinthians 6 tells us in verses 19 and 20: "What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit"! You wouldn't think of walking into this church building, I don't think most of you, and defiling this church with sexual sin! But this church is not the temple of God: this church is a meeting place, it's a church house. This is the temple of God! Do not defile the body which belongs to God! Because you have been purchased with a price! The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
And if for no other reason, to honor God with your body! Your body belongs to God and your bed belongs to your husband and your wife! Don't defile it. You can dispute it all you want. You can justify it and rationalize it but you cannot change what God has clearly said in His Word. And so, because you belong to God when God gives you a husband or a wife, you belong, therefore, to one another. Ecclesiastes 4:12, "A three-fold cord is not easily broken". the Scripture says. And so, you are united together in Christ. And that same Scripture which says our bodies belong to God goes on to say,"therefore, glorify God with your body". Are you glorifying God, honoring God with your body, what you put in it, what you put on it, how you treat it in every way? Glorify God by living a pure life and walking in obedience to Him. Your marriage and your morality is to offer praise to God so that the world may see the presence of Jesus in your life.
Now in closing down this message, I want to give you very quickly what I would call some spiritual principles, that we establish guidelines to protect our marriage. If we're to honor our marriage, one of the ways we honor our wives, honor the mothers of our children, is to provide protection. That's a big-time role of the father and husband in their lives and in their marriage. So, to provide protection, to build fences, guidelines if you will, borders, hedges, whatever, build a wall!
And here's how you do it: Number one, respect one another. It's that word honor again. If you want to keep your marriage strong and pure, your marriage bed undefiled, if you want to affair-proof your marriage, not only on the physical side, but even the emotional side, and there are emotional affairs that end up being so often physical affairs, but respect one another. Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ has loved the church and gave Himself for her", with sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit yourself to your husbands as unto the Lord". And in this relationship of oneness. You know the goal, the radical militant feminist will tell you that the goal for women should be equallity which equal, sameness.
The goal is not sameness! The goal is oneness. There should be equality in the market place, equality in the culture, equality in government, all those things. In the marriage relationship the equality equates not to sameness but to oneness. Get it? Viva la difference! the French say. Genesis 1:27, "Male and female He created them". We both as husbands and wives have different roles and responsibilities. The husband is the head of the home, but I say the wife and mother, she is the crown jewel and the heart of the home. It's not sameness; we don't function in the same way, but we are fulfilled in the oneness of that relationship. When God created the woman, she was created as his completer, not as his competer, and so respect one another.
Secondly, guard your heart! It starts in the heart. Protect yourself personally, men and women because the Scripture says, Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart for out of it flows all the issues of life". Keep your heart pure, "Blessed are the pure in heart". "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he". So guard your heart in the presence of the Lord.
Thirdly, and this is very, very practical, and very, very personal to me. Set up these fences so that you make sure that in friendships of the opposite sex in particular, do not flirt or spend time alone with someone besides your spouse. Friendship often can turn to flirting. You know what I'm talking about. We've all seen it; maybe you've experienced it. Someone at the office catches your eye; you enjoy the conversation, likeable, he may be more romantic than your husband and your wife. It starts like that, then it begins a distant flirtation and some laughter. And then the next thing you know, friends and coworkers are connected at an emotional level. The affair starts in the heart, and the next thing you know, the adultery, and then the break of the home and the family. It's happened again and again and again and again.
So how do you combat that? You have to make some radical decisions. I'm just here to remind you today that it's never appropriate to be flirting with someone of the opposite sex in your office, in your neighborhood. And spending time along, traveling together, having lunch together, all that stuff. You say, "Well, that's harmless stuff". It's not harmless. I'm saying love your spouse enough to protect your marriage. And that means building these hedges, setting these guidelines that will keep you smart in these relationships. And that means, next, agree as a couple as to what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. Guys, I guarantee you, if you ask your wife, she'll tell you what's appropriate and what's not appropriate with the opposite sex. And vice versa. Establish boundaries and never cross them! These are personal convictions! I have some personal convictions, some boundaries in my life that I have set, and I refuse to cross them by God's grace.
Here's another one: Never discuss your problems, especially marriage problems with a person of the opposite sex. Now I'm assuming you're not a pastoral or professional counselor. And even if you are, beware and pay attention and keep the door open. But one of the ways these things get started in the breakup of a home is someone discussing their problems, especially problems about my marriage, or problems about, I'm having at home, and the next thing you know there's a connection, and you know what happens. Never discuss your problems, especially marriage problems with a person of the opposite sex. Remember also, temptation is no respecter of persons. No one is invulnerable. "Let him who stands, take heed lest he fall".
I like to say to myself and I say it to young pastors in particular and I'll say it to any man or woman: Run just a little bit scared because "The devil's like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour". Temptation is real and is no respecter of persons. So be aware of that. And then pray for protection. Jesus said, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". And saturate your mind and heart with the Word of God. The Word of God is a shield to us, a strength to us! Bathe your mind.
Your Bible says, "Sanctify them with your truth, O God". Sanctify, make pure with the truth of God's Word! And when you walk in the Word there is power, there is strength! You meditate! You answer the onslaught of the enemy with the Word of God! Psalm 119:9, "How shall a young man cleanse his way? By giving attention to Your Word, O Lord". Then strive to be above reproach. The Bible says, "Be above reproach". Ask yourself when you're hanging out with someone of the opposite sex, you're a married person, you're doing certain things, having lunch, traveling, sitting together on the airplane. I don't know, name it! Ask yourself, "Is this above reproach"?
You say, "Well, I don't really care what people think". Well, you should. You're to be a testimony, a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't want to do anything that would call into question whether or not I love my wife or not. Strive to be above reproach and set the highest of standards in your life. Have deep personal convictions! Remember, you made a sacred vow. And if you are not married, in advance of that sacred vow, commit yourself to godliness and purity. Honor marriage! Don't defile it. Don't destroy it. Don't tear it down. Mark 10:9, "What God has joined together," Jesus said, "don't tear it apart".