Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1961
NUMBER 1, PAGE 4,13c

"Let Marriage Be Had In Honor"

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

Two facts are stated in Genesis as conditions which required that woman be created as the complement necessary to a complete creation of humanity. The fact that "it is not good that man should be alone" (Gen. 2:20) plus the fact that "there was not found a help meet (suitable) for him" (Gen. 2:20) made it necessary for God to make woman. In creating "them male and female," God instituted marriage or the husband-wife relationship. This is seen in the language, "therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24)

The conclusions which are to be drawn from these scriptures are: marriage is a divine arrangement; it is the arrangement which God made for man's "good," and each party in the relationship has all the potentialities which make them mutually suitable the one for the other. God's arrangement of marriage is for man's good and in every case, where the parties in the relationship recognize and discharge their responsibilities, blessings will abound. However, anytime a man and woman enter into this relationship looking only to the blessings, and failing to take into account the responsibilities, misery and wretchedness will result and continue so long as the selfish and irresponsible attitude is maintained.

"Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Heb. 13:4) Marriage is ordained by God as the only proper relationship for male-female cohabitation among human beings. Fornicators and adulterers dishonor marriage and defile the act which God has specifically assigned to the marriage relationship.

"Male And Female Created He Them"

There is a widely accepted idea that sexual union has as its design the propagation of the race. This doctrine is held not only by the Roman Catholic church but by some who are not members of that body. Much harm has been done by this error. There is a crying need for the doctrine of God to be plainly set forth.

The Bible doctrine as set forth in 1 Cor. 7 is that in certain unusual circumstances — ("by reason of the distress that is upon us") — it is "good for a man not to touch a woman." The context shows that it was only in certain circumstances when extreme conditions were present may it is "good for a man not to touch a woman." That celibacy is not the rule in normal circumstances is seen also in God's statement, "it is not good that man should be alone" and in the fact that God blessed manage. (Gen. 1:28) The celibacy which the apostle recommended was for times of stress and in exceptional circumstances and even then such was not good for all for he says, "But if they have not continency let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." (1 Cor. 7:9)

In this seventh chapter of first Corinthians the apostle teaches that marriage is designed to supply a physical need which is common to both parties. "But because of fornication let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." (1 Cor. 7:2) This language of the apostle acknowledges the need and recognizes the possibility that men and women would attempt to satisfy this need by committing fornication. This physical need is recognized in the Bible as a legitimate need and the responsibilities of each party in fulfilling this design of marriage are expressed. The apostle writes, "Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband bath not power over his own body but the wife." (I Cor. 7:3, 4) In this passage the idea of joint interest or ownership is set forth. In marriage neither party is sole owner of his or her body. In this matter the will of God is "defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency." (1 Cor. 7:5) Considerations of kindness and proper regard for one's companion will prevent selfish demands. Wholesome well-balanced thinking will enable one to exercise the restraint which should prevail in cases where illness, etc., prevents a husband or wife fulfilling his or her part in this phase of marriage.

It should be remembered that the Lord has promised that he "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it." (1 Cor. 10:13)

"Love Your Wives" — "Love Their Husbands"

What can be done about the situation where people come to realize that their marriage is yielding only misery and unhappiness? Divorce is the answer accepted by many. The wide acceptance of divorce as the answer is attested by the high divorce rate. Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, are widely known chiefly because of the gambling, and easy divorces, and the quick marriages. The actions of the people in Hollywood give endorsement to divorce as the answer to unhappy marriage. But in spite of the popularity of divorce as the means of correcting the bad situation of an unhappy marriage, is divorce the answer? Does it solve the problem, even for those who "fear not God and regard not man?" NO! That divorce is not the answer is seen by observing the restless, unhappy and miserable state of those who have traveled the Las Vegas and the Reno route. The beautiful brilliant lights of Las Vegas, which can be seen any hour of the night for many miles out on the desert, are not notable to dispell the darkness from the hearts of the poor things whose marriages have ended there in failure. Not all the cosmetics of the skilled beauticians of Hollywood, nor the carefully cultivated air of gaiety nor the vulgar display of wealth, nor any other device, can conceal the unhappiness which possesses them. Many of those who have little if any regard for God's law of marriage will testify that divorce is not the answer.

For those who claim to respect the will of God, divorce is certainly not the answer. But what are people to do when they realize or decide that love no longer exists in their marriage? This absence of love is frequently offered as justification for breaking up of marriage. How shall the preacher answer the person who comes with the confession that he or she no longer loves wife or husband? The example of our Lord cannot be improved upon — let's just follow his example by answering with an "it is written." In reply to the husband who confesses that he does not love his wife, we can say, "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it." (Eph. 5:25) This love is not sexual but is sacrificial action on behalf of the one we are required to love. With too many people the love associated with marriage is thought of as being synonymous with sex and involving nothing more. "Sex," however, is not what the Holy Spirit is here talking about. He is demanding that "husbands love their wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it." God does not excuse a man from his obligation simply upon his confession of his sin of not loving his wife. He will forgive the child of God when his child repents and begins doing what he ought to do, that is, love his wife. A man can love his wife or God would not have commanded him to love his wife. The love here required can be cultivated for it is commanded by God.

What about the wife who admits that she is a failure in that she doesn't love her husband? In many of these cases, the failure of the wife can be traced to failure of older women to do their duty of training the young woman to love their husbands. This, however, does not relieve the younger wives of their obligation. Wives have the responsibility to "love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:4, 5) What should the preacher advise mothers to do who confess they don't love their children? Why just what is written! Teach them to "love their children!" Well, what about the wife who realizes that she is falling short of her responsibility to love her husband? It is written, teach "the young women to love their husbands." The same word is used to describe the duty in both relationships under consideration. In the mother-children relationship, the mother is to "love" her children; in the wife-husband relationship, the wife is to "love" her husband.

Successful marriages are not the product of chance. Attention must be given to the imperative injunction to "let marriage be had in honor." Marriage is honorable in all its aspects and men need to cultivate a high regard for it.