TEXT: Heb. 13:4
A. THE DEVIL IS HARD AT WORK.
1. A roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8).
2. Persistent and tricky (2 Cor. 2:11).
B. A FREQUENT POINT OF ATTACK – MARRIAGE.
1. Matt. 19:6. Yet, what is becoming so commonplace in the church?
2. Souls are at stake (Heb. 13:4; Eph. 5:5).
3. The church has become an unholy mess of sin, folly, and division (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
C. A NEW CONTROVERSY: “If a couple gets married but don’t have sexual relations, are
they really married? Can they not get an annulment and remarry whom they will?”
A. TODAY’S CUSTOMS OF MARRIAGE vs. BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE.
1. Nothing to compare in our customs with 1st century betrothal.
2. There is no betrothal today in which one can be “put away” as Joseph contemplated
with Mary. (By the way, that bound her the same as if they were married, and
endangered her to be stoned if she was divorced for the worst was always assumed.
See The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article on Marriage – betrothal
–Deut. 22:23-24; Matt. 1:19).
3. There is no such custom as betrothal among us or commanded in the New Testament,
so we need to go elsewhere to understand when the relationship between a man and
woman becomes a binding one.
B. SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT JOSEPTH AND MARY.
1. Luke 2:1-5. Joseph goes to Bethlehem for enrollment. It says of Mary, that Joseph
took her with him, and she was betrothed to him.
a. There is nothing in this passage that would indicate the circumstance of their
relationship, except they were betrothed (Luke 1:27ff.).
b. Nothing is said in Luke about the difficulty of their relationship when Joseph
discovered her to be with child.
2. Matthew 1:18-24. Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
a. Before she and Joseph came together, and he was minded to put her away.
b An angel explained that it was of the Holy Spirit.
c. The text then tells us … (vs. 24-25).
d. In dealing specifically with the relationship of Joseph and Mary, the scripture
says that Joseph at that point, “took unto him his wife.”
e. A definite change in the relationship. Matthew makes the distinction, not only in
what Mary was called, but in the substance of their relations.
f. Joseph “… took unto him his wife …” He had her in a way that he did not before
– when he was betrothed to her. She is called his wife, not his betrothed, and
journeys to Bethlehem with him.
g. If he had not taken unto him his wife, she wouldn’t have gone. Whereas they had
not cohabited before, now they did. And yet he did not know her in the carnal
sense until after the birth of Jesus. Still she was the wife of Joseph (vs. 24-25)
A. THE CATHOLIC ASSUMPTION – MARRIAGE CONSUMMATED BY SEX.
1. Gen. 2:24. Used to teach marriage begins with sex and the two become one flesh.
2. This is based on the notion that marriage is for the purpose of satisfying one particular
appetite and producing off-spring.
3. Indeed, it is God’s intention that married people become one flesh in a sense, for the
this verse says so.
4. Sex is not the only design of marriage. There is an aloneness that is salved by the
intimacy in the marriage bond.
5. “Being alone” is not merely having unsatisfied sexual desires. Man was given
woman, not only for the carnal pleasures of sex, but for the gentleness and
dependency she has to offer. Not only is her body soft, but so is her disposition
(1 Pet. 3:4). For this she is his refuge, his confidant. This fact concerning the
purpose of marriage keeps the embers glowing when the flames have ceased their
leaping. Which is the more important role for a wife, a sexual partner or friend and
partner in life? What all is marriage anyway?
6. In Genesis, Adam was the only human being. He had needs that involved more than
the need to procreate. God didn’t provide just a sex object. The needs of men go
farther than that.
B. Gen. 2:24. REFERRED TO IN 3 NT PASSAGES.
1. Matt. 19:5-6. There Jesus includes the words “the two” – “the two shall become flesh.
One may associate his use more with sexual behavior, since he later talks about
fornication breaking the bond, but that association is not necessarily the only one
2. In 1 Cor. 6:16. The sexual union is intended.
a. Paul talks about the spiritual union we have with Christ in his body, the church
b. He derides sarcastically the notion of taking that which is joined to the righteous
Christ, and joining it through the sexual union to an unrighteous prostitute.
c. Note McGarvey’s comments: “A subservient correlation also exists between
husband and wife, for they twain become one flesh, and the innocency of their
union does not interfere with the relation of either to God, which is the body’s
supreme correlation. But there is no lawful correlation between the body of
the Christian and that of a harlot, and such a correlation cannot be subservient
to the body’s supreme correlation, but is repugnant to it.”
d. The point is quite clear – having sex with a woman doesn’t mean you are married
to her. This would mean having sex with a harlot joins her flesh to the man’s,
and to the holy spiritual body of Christ.
e. Some would argue that Paul would not use such a figure if it consisted of sarcasm.
For those who repudiate sarcasm as a legitimate polemic tool, please read
3. Eph. 5:25-33 also quotes Gen. 2:24 (vs. 31).
a. More than a sexual union is involved in “the two shall become one flesh.”
b. Note some of the phrases found here. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ
also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; … 28 Even so ought
husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his
own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but
nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are
members of his body” (vs. 25-30).
c. You know that it is not just about sex. It is about the special relationship,
physical, social, and psychological that the husband and wife have.
d They are lovers, not just in the sense that they “make love,” but in the sense that
they love (agape not eros) each other.
e. For the man, it involves giving oneself up for her, nourishing and cherishing her,
as Christ does the church.
f. There is more to the meaning of “one flesh” in this context than achieving sexual
gratification. To miss this point is to miss out on the greater blessings of
marriage that cannot be obtained with a harlot by mere sex.
C. THERE IS NOTHING IN THESE VERSES THAT TEACHES “ONE FLESH” EQUALS
THE BEGINNING OF MARRIAGE. CONTRARIWISE, “ONE FLESH” IS WHAT
YOU BECOME IN MARRIAGE..
A. WE MUST TELL THE TRUTH.
1. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
2. Those who make vows and don’t keep them are liars (Rev. 21:8).
B. THE STORY OF JEPTHAH (Judges 11).
1. The rash vow. (Judges 11:30-31).
2. The appearance of his daughter. (vs. 34). Now the reaction of Jephthah may well have
been to rationalize why he should not do what he had vowed.
3. But Jephthah showed us (Rom. 15:4) how important it is to keep your word and tell the
truth (vs. 35).
4. He vowed, and his vow bound him.
C. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT KEEPING OUR VOWS?
1. (Num 30:2-4).
2. (Eccl. 5:2-6).
3. ( Psa. 15:1,4).
4. Someone objects before the point is made, “But that’s in the Old Testament.” The Old
Testament reflects the attitude and intentions of an unchanging God (Mal. 3:6).
5. What did Jesus say? (Matt 5:37).
6. Notice the harsh condemnation of Paul (Rom 1:28-32).
a. Named among murderers, gossips, the proud and homosexuals are covenant-
b The covenant-breaker is a sinner and is worthy of death.
D. THINK ABOUT THE WEDDING CEREMONY.
1. Two people stand before God and give their word.
2. They are recognized as being married, bound by their word to a sacred covenant that
can only be put asunder by fornication (Matt. 19:9). They are bound in marriage by
3. “Is there anyone present who knows just cause or reason why these two should not be
joined in marriage?” Then the charge, “Let him speak now or remain silent forever.”
a. If the marriage has not yet begun, the charge should be, “If anyone objects, you
have a few hours yet.”
b. The foolishness of upholding “annulment” is seen in the foolishness of that scene.
We live in a frightening society where the world is likely to let things of high moral import slide by unnoticed. But Godly men and women hold themselves to a higher standard. The Hebrew writer said, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you” (Heb. 6:9). Let us not do those things that cast a shadow on the name of the Lord.
The notion that a marriage can be annulled because they didn’t consummate with the sexual act is wrong because it ignores the fact that marriage involves a covenant-bond. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).