Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure … Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)
We come to the fifth characteristic or attribute of Christian marriage as stated in 1 Corinthians 13. This attribute is: ‘love … is not dishonouring of others’
We don’t hear much about honour being spoken of in society or the media. It is as if honour is an old fashioned idea that has little to do with living in the 21st century. We see it in tales of knights in their shining armour, or stories about King Arthur and the knights of the round table. Yet the Bible tells us that love, properly expressed, does not dishonour others. In other words, we must honour our spouse above ourselves.
The verses quoted above from Romans and Hebrews give two very different views of honour. In the quote from Romans 12 we are told to ‘honour one another above ourselves’. This gives the impression of putting the other person in pride of place, and showing them respect. The quote from Hebrews 13:4 tells us that marriage should be honoured and gives us an example of how this should be – the marriage bed should be kept pure.
I hear you say ‘I’ve never been unfaithful to my spouse’, ‘I’ve kept the marriage bed pure’. Yes, but have you shown your spouse respect. Have you ever noticed how some husbands and wives who cherish faithfulness in their marriage can belittle their spouse in public? Putting someone else down has the implication that their opinion is wrong, or perhaps they just don’t understand things as well as we do.
We hear in our society that ‘respect cannot be demanded, it must be earned’. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that in Christian marriage ‘honour’ and ‘respect’ have to be freely given by one spouse to the other. No strings attached! As faithfulness and purity in marriage are choices spouses must make, so too is showing honour. Even if one partner fails to honour the other, love should still be expressed by showing honour.
The challenge for Christian marriage today is not to go with the tide, but to keep the marriage bed pure. Additionally, there is a challenge for husbands and wives to show honour to their spouse, even in the face of severe provocation.
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