Well first things first. The truth is we all fall short of honoring marriage as God would desire it to be honored. If you see Hebrews 13:1-6 as an extension of 12:28-29, as I do, and a call to acceptable worship in the Kingdom you quickly see that it is not just a matter of outward honoring. It is honoring God in our totality that makes our marriages or the marriage you may one day be in acceptable worship of God. We, and I know I do this, so often seek to please my wife, my children and myself in marriage but the first thing that should cross our minds is to ask if our marriages, including our views on marriage, are honoring to God who instituted marriage at creation.
This is not just about the outward acts, it includes them, but about how we view and what we believe about marriage. A look at the professing church would seem to say that marriage is taken lightly. Now many will protest “same sex marriage”, as they should, but then dishonor marriage with divorce, disorder in the home, incorrect views on the roles God has ordained for His people and a myriad of other views and actions. We even have a segment of the church that seems to be putting off marriage to a later date so they can meet their own needs. Of course there will be those called to singleness for a time and even some for life but scripture speaks of this being for the purpose of ministry and not making money, getting an education or any number of reasons usually given. To place marriage as a secondary institution dishonors God’s call in Gen 2:18 that it is not good for man, and by inference woman, to be alone.
As I said above, to me much of this stems from not asking the vital question that we should ask about everything we do, not just about marriage. That is to ask: How does what I believe and do honor God and is it acceptable as worship to God by God’s standards of acceptability? I do not see where we are specifically called to be creative in worship, by the way all of life for the believer is to be worship, but instead see a vast number of imperatives in scripture that dictate what God finds as acceptable worship to Him. So that this is not burdensome (1 John 5:3) scripture also gives a great number of indicatives that let us know that He empowers us to do all He commands. While I have only touched on a few things, of which I am sure some will disagree, I would hope that we would all step back when we are faced with issues such as marriage and not ask what I think is best but what does God say most honors Him.
As far as topic two and preaching on sexual immorality and adultery with children present. Being a church that sees all ages worshipping together as the biblical model one has to use discernment in how one words things and at the same time also be true to the text. To do this it becomes clear that you can find ways to word things that may otherwise lead to parents covering ears. One can just as easily speak of “the union of men and women outside of marriage” as to speak of “fornication.” My view is that the parents are to deal with these thorny issue and it is the preachers job to equip them to do so. Children may leave with questions and that is a good thing as then parents can take the role they are called to in rearing their children.
This said I think if you simply camp on the sexual issues at the end of 13:4 you will miss the point of honoring marriage. The writer of Hebrews is using an example of an area the professing Hebrews probably struggled with as they took on the societal norms that were around them. If we simply focus on the sexual area it is possible for someone that does not have a specific issue in this area to simply say “I have that wired” and tune out. But the truth is honoring marriage is much more encompassing than simply avoiding premarital sex and adultery. Yes we are to avoid this at all cost but if we do that but do not bring our families up in the fear and admonition of the Lord we have failed to honor God in marriage as well. If we avoid lust at all cost but as husbands do not care for our wives and be the head of the home as we are called to be we dishonor marriage. So as I thought about this passage it became much easier to preach as I realized to focus on the one area missed the point of the passage and for sure would miss the point important to the believers I minster to.
Well there is so much more involved in honoring marriage and I have very far to go to honor it as God desires. The good news, the great hope, is that the faith that brought us to the cross is the same faith that will enable us to do all that God commands. Yes we will look strange to the world around us obeying God’s commands but we are called to be pilgrims so let us be pilgrims.
Let us Honor marriage in the Kingdom