The Marriage Bed Undefiled
Hebrews 13:4 ESV
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Sadly, this is not generally the case in today’s world even among those professing faith in Jesus Christ. Many couples are living together outside of the bonds of marriage. And a large majority of men and some women who are married are living in adultery against their spouses via porn addiction.
Some people are married to their careers and therefore are neglecting quality time spent with their spouses. Some are addicted to TV or to the internet or social media or sports or various other activities which keep them from having quality time with their spouses, and the marriage suffers.
Some people are having flirtations with others with whom they are not married, via having private and intimate conversations with them, either in person or via texting, emailing, chatting, or other means of communication. And some of these flirtations end up in affairs which break up the marriage.
Sexual immorality is rampant in our culture, in the things people watch on TV or in the movies or on video games or on music videos, etc., or in what they view on social media or even on news sites, or even on people’s blogs or on Christian discussion sites, too, and in the advertisements, too.
And we live in a me-me society, even within the church, where the focus is much on self, and on making oneself happy and entertained, and where the fear of the Lord is neglected, barely taught, and even discouraged. Sin is running rampant and is even being blessed by a diluted gospel message.
And the church at large is largely doing nothing to stop this massive spiritual decline which is taking place within the church and within the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. And partly that is due to the fact that many pastors and elders are also living in sin.
Please understand here what Jesus taught about adultery, that if we lust after another person to whom we are not married, we are committing adultery in our hearts. So, the marriage bed can be defiled if we are lusting after others, or if we are flirting with others, or viewing sexually charged videos/movies, or if we are gratifying ourselves with ourselves, etc.
Instructions for Wives
Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Wives, we never submit to sin. Submitting to our husbands never is to involve submitting ourselves to sin. For, we are to submit to our husbands as to the Lord, like we would submit to the Lord, and he would never have us submit to sin. For, he delivered us from our bondage to sin.
This submission, thus, is to be under God’s arrangement. It is to be us submitting to his plan for our lives, and his plan is that we walk in purity of devotion to Him, and that we walk in holiness and righteousness as a matter of our life course, living holy lives pleasing to God.
So, wives, keep yourselves pure in all things, in what you do, in how you act, in what you wear, in how you pose your bodies, in all your thinking, in all your speaking, and in all your relationships with others, male or female. Don’t ever compromise purity to make your husbands happy.
And when this says that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior, this is a model for how a husband is to be head of his wife. He is not to abuse, mistreat, or lord it over her in a demanding way.
He is to treat his wife as he would his own body, if indeed he treats his own body with propriety and not in sin. And the purpose of him being the head is not so he can make her a slave to him, but so that he can love and protect her from all evil and encourage her to be who God made her to be.
And this word “submit” does not mean the wife is to be a doormat for the husband to walk all over. It just means that she defers to him, that she doesn’t demand her own way, and she yields to his leadership and judgment provided that his leadership and judgment are in line with that of the Lord.
But this submission isn’t all one-sided. For, v. 21 speaks of all of us in the body of Christ submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. In a good marriage relationship, there will be this yielding going on with both husband and wife out of deference for the other’s opinions, feelings, or preferences, but which involves NO compromising of morals.
Instructions for Husbands
Ephesians 5:25-33 ESV
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
“‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Because the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her, and because he is to be the head of his wife, in a loving and understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), he has a greater responsibility for how the marriage goes, and for both his and his wife’s spiritual lives.
And how does Christ love us? He literally gave his life up for us so that we could be free from our slavery to sin and so that we could walk with him in holiness and purity of devotion to him. And this is how husbands are to love their wives. They are to be unselfish and self-sacrificing.
Jesus Christ is the model here, so this in no way means that the husband is to sit back and do nothing while his wife gets stuck with the responsibility for leading the family or marriage in the right direction. And this definitely means that the husband is to be committed to having an undefiled marriage bed and to doing everything within his power to hold the marriage together.
And it is critical to the marriage relationship, too, that a man leave that relationship with his mother and father that he had with them as a child, and that he now become a man and hold fast (cling to) his wife and their marriage relationship. Second only to God, she should come first in his life.
And the two are to become one flesh. And one flesh means there is a bond between them which comes from both of them working together to make that marriage work, where there is give and take on both sides, and where they are considerate of one another’s feelings and preferences and will be willing to make compromises on matters where compromise can be made in order to bring about unity and harmony within the marriage relationship.
But they will not be one flesh if either of them is living in adultery against the other in his/her mind or body or words or feelings or actions. And this involves pining over others in romantic movies or books, too, wishing he/she had someone else other than who he/she has.
Love and respect are not just his and hers things. Women need to love their husbands and men need to show respect to their wives, too (1 Pet 3:7). Men, you are not going to win over your wives if you treat them as though they are your property and that you can stomp on their hearts at will.
And women, you are not going to win over your husbands if you do not allow them to lead, providing they are leading in the right way, and they are not leading you into sin, and if you try to take their position as head because you want to lead. But this is not referring to women who are left to lead the family because the husband has abandoned his responsibility.
So, both husbands and wives need to love and respect each other, and they need to be faithful to one another, and both need to work on keeping the marriage going and truly becoming one flesh by learning to yield to each other in matters that don’t involve compromising with sin.