Dr. Randy Carlson on Marriage

How Costly Is Your Marriage?

by Dr. Randy Carlson

“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.” (Hebrews 13:4)

Within our current culture, there is little honor given to marriage. Honor is a word that has lost most of its meaning. Some of the other translations of the Greek word for honor: dear, precious, respected, very costly. When you put words like that next to marriage, maybe you can begin to understand how important marriage is to God and how important it should be to you. Of course, the marriage which is dear, precious, respected and considered very costly by God, is the marriage designed by God. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

The remaining faithful part of the above verse has to do with the physical aspect of marriage, or as another translation puts it: “The marriage bed is to be undefiled.” If you think that honor as a word which has lost its way, undefiled is even further out there. Another translation simply uses the word pure. Simply put, intimacy is to remain exclusively inside of marriage.

For those who do not live like this, the verse in Hebrews 13 ends with a reminder that God will judge. So in one verse we move from that which is dear, precious, respected, and very costly, to promised judgment.

So how do we live the kind of marriage that is dear, precious, respected, and very costly in the midst of a culture that has watered it down and redefined it? The very next verse in Hebrews says: “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (Hebrews 13:5). And where did God make that original promise? In Deuteronomy chapter 31.

When Moses had finished giving these instructions to all the people of Israel, he said, “I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.’  But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land. . . . So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (vss. 1-3, 6)

The next time we see this quote is in the first chapter of Joshua:

After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” (vss. 1-2, 5)

The first time Israel hears these words, they hear them from Moses, which is what they are used to, because Moses spoke with the Lord face-to-face and passed along all His laws to them. The second time these words are spoken, by the Lord Himself, was to Joshua. In the first case their leader was dying, and command was being transferred to Joshua. But it was clear that the Lord would continue to be with them and fight their battles.

In the second case they are on the eve of their invasion of the promised land, and God tells their new commander-in-chief that He will be with him. Those were some pretty tough and intense times.

If God was with the Israelites in such times and gave them victory, don’t you think He will help you in your marriage?

There are two things God will never do.

He will never fail you. The word fail in Hebrew has many great translations. Basically it means, He won’t drop you, leave you alone or let you go. The strength of the Almighty is in that promise.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. (Isaiah 41:10)

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

He will never forsake you. He won’t abandon. He won’t neglect. He won’t leave you behind. He will not give up on you, nor will He give up on your marriage. The faithfulness of the Lord God is in that promise.

“Your loving-kindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 36:5)

“Try your best to please God and to be like him. Be faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle.” (1 Timothy 6:11)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

God will help you build (or re-build) a marriage that is dear, precious, respected, and very costly. Here are four steps and a bonus that you can take in that direction.

  • Priority: Honor one another. “Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3-4 CEV). Your marriage will be transformed if you put your mate first.
  • Perspective: See your wife the way the Lord sees her. “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4 NLT).
  • Preference: Give respect to your husband. “Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another” (Romans 12:10 GNT).
  • Practice: God’s love is poured out upon us every day. Let that inspire you to do the same. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT).
  • BONUS: If you need help, or encouragement, attend an upcoming Intentional Love Marriage Conference. If it’s not nearby, make it a vacation.

The Lord is faithful.