This past December I was privileged to officiate my first wedding. Below is an annotated outline of my sermon on Hebrews 13:4.
Propositional Statement: In this passage God tells us three truths about marriage that apply to both the married and unmarried. A thorough understanding of these three truths honors God as the giver of marriage. These three truths are that (1) Marriage is honorable; (2) Marriage must not be defiled; and (3) God judges those who break the God-ordained pattern for marriage.
Truth #1: Marriage is Honorable. The author tells us that marriage is to be held in honor. The text itself does not say why, but since the readers are known to be well taught believing Jews we can assume that they had a thorough knowledge of at least the Old Testament’s teaching on marriage. With that said, as a summary, we can see three reasons why marriage is to be held in high honor.
First, marriage is honorable because it provides companionship. God gave Eve to Adam as a helper (Gen 2:18). She was given as a helper for Adam to obey the command given to him by God (Gen 2:15). Therefore, marriage provides companionship for the purpose of obedience to God’s command.
Second, marriage is honorable because it portrays divine community. The Bible teaches the Triunity of God. That is God is three in one in perfect unity and harmony without compromising singularity. The Godhead is compromised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Within the Trinity God the Father sends the Son to earth to redeem man. The Son lives in willful obedience to God the Father (Phil 2:5-11; Rom 1:1-4). Therefore, the male in his leadership reflects the God the Father. The woman’s submission in marriage is a wonderful picture of Christ-like submission (Eph 5:22). The more she submits, the more she is like Christ. In these roles the equality of value is not compromised (Gen 2:24; 1 Pet 3:7).
Third, marriage is honorable because it pictures Christianity. Paul said in Ephesians 5:32 that marriage is a visible picture of the Gospel. As Christ loved the church in giving Himself up for her, so too ought the husband love His bride. The humble submission of the Church to Christ’s authority is a picture in the woman’s submission to her husband.
Truth #2: Marriage Cannot be Defiled. God had ordained that marriage be held between one man and one woman. This truth is taught in the Old Testament (Gen 2:23-25); authoritatively taught and affirmed by Jesus (Mk 10:6-8), and taught by the early church (Eph 5:25ff; 1 Pet 3:1-7). Any deviation from God’s intended order to His institution of marriage is a defilement. It is an impurity. This places a high standard upon all, especially believers, as they come under the hearing of this passage.
Truth #3: God Judges those who Dishonor Marriage. God is the judge of those who do not conform to His standard of marriage. While this context speaks of God’s judgment towards those who rebel against God ordained order of marriage, the Bible teaches that all who deviate from any of His Laws will be judged to eternal damnation (Acts 17:30-31; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Rom 3:23; Jas 2:10).
This is why God sent Christ. All are actually guilty of breaking God’s commanded Law. Christ fulfilled the Law (Matt 5:17) and those who come to Him and take up their cross are redeemed (Matt 11:28-30). Therefore, those who are in Christ are no longer characterized as rebellious sinners, but obedient children of God. Just as Paul had stated that some are fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers; those who are in Christ can heartily affirm how Paul ends the paragraph by stating, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11).
Conclusion. These truths of marriage must be upheld among Christians. These are highly applicable truths in the life of the believer for both the married and unmarried.