“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you…” (Hebrews 13:4 – 13:5 NKJV)
What an interesting passage of scripture. I used to believe the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews was kind of a catch-all chapter; you know, a thought here, another thought there. Nothing tied together. Simply a number of random thoughts, possibly even last minute thoughts the writer didn’t want to leave out.
I felt verses 4 and 5 were completely unrelated.
But I now believe I was wrong.
Discussion about the marriage bed, covetousness, and contentment together?
Stranger things have happened.
Let’s take a look and see.
The writer declares marriage is honorable; or, in other words, marriage is precious, greatly esteemed, and highly favored of God. It’s God’s design and delight. Throughout scripture, from “God blessed them” in Genesis to “heirs together of the grace of life” in 1 Peter, the value God places on marriage is clear.
He ordained it, loves it, and wants to bless it.
Marriage is special to God.
Marriage includes the marriage bed.
The word translated “bed” is from the Greek word “koite”, which is where we get our English word “coitus” (meaning the physical union of male and female).
Let’s make sure we get this straight before moving on: marriage is precious to God, and He’s not put out when a married couple express their love and commitment to each other by having sex. He doesn’t see it as vile, vulgar, dirty, or anything like that.
But that doesn’t mean just anything goes.
“Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled…” indicates not only God’s opinion of sex, but also warnings against allowing it to become something other than the beautiful thing it is.
The Lord’s intention from the beginning was for His people to enjoy the gift of sex; without selfishness, greed, thoughts or images of another person defiling or making the marriage bed impure. And He wants us, people who declare Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, to steer clear of any sexual immorality.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you 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 who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3 – 4:5 ESV)
In Hebrews 13:4, as well as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, the Greek words translated as fornication and sexual immorality have basically the same root word; “Pornos”. It’s where we get words such as pornography.
In other words, pornography defiles the marriage bed.
Anything that trains the emotions and flesh to escape true intimacy and focus on selfish imagery, one’s own feelings and pleasures, memories of another person, completely goes against God’s intent and favor for the married couple.
Pornography, even “soft porn”, is a killer of true intimacy, even if viewed together (as some misguided counselors prescribe); and it most definitely defiles the marriage bed.
“Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled…let your conduct (way of living) be without covetousness; be content…”
Allowing pornographic images into your marriage bed feeds the spirit of lust, not true love and intimacy. It pumps more fuel into such troublesome spirits as covetousness and discontentment.
What should be the expression of commitment and complete oneness is reduced to an act not much above that of a couple of alley cats.
Defiled. Not satisfied. Needing more imagery, more graphics, more anything than what the spouse, the covenant partner, is able to give.
An open door for the enemy to come in and steal, kill, and destroy.
Once more, let’s look at our Hebrews passage. Only this time, read my loosely paraphrased version:
“Marriage, the union of a man and woman, is precious and extremely dear to God. He has established the marriage bed, that place where the marriage was consummated and where physical intimacy takes place, as a place of purity and holiness in His sight. Purity protects the union, but He will judge (that is, contend with, fight against, incarcerate, or remove) anything that attempts to defile the marriage sanctuary (to include pornography, uncontrolled and selfish acts, impure imaginations, and violations of the marriage covenant whether in thought, word, or deed).”
“So guard yourself, and your marriage bed, against covetousness; be content with the one God has joined you with. For He will never leave you or forsake you. You can depend on Him to continually bless your marriage union; spiritually, emotionally, and physically. His way.”
Remember, God created the marriage bed as a place of perfect enjoyment AND purity.
Don’t settle for anything less.