Cornelius Hanko is an emeritus minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Ques. 108. What doth the seventh commandment teach us?
Ans. That all uncleanness is accursed of God; and that therefore we must with all our hearts detest the same, and live chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.
Ques. 109. Doth God forbid in this commandment, only adultery and such like gross sins?
Ans. Since both our body and soul are temple of the Holy Ghost, he commands us to preserve them pure and holy: therefore he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever can entice men thereto.
Heid. Catechism, Lord’s Day 41.
Holy is the Lord our God!
He is eternally and perfectly devoted to Himself and His glorious perfections as God above all, blessed forever!
The three persons in the divine trinity are individually filled with all the divine virtues, yet each lives His own life as distinct person within the divine Being. In intimate communion of life and love they are devoted to each other!
Holy is the Name of our God, radiating from Him in the dazzling brightness of His glory, which bedims the light of the sun into a mere glowing matchstick.
Adam and Eve shared that holiness for a little while in paradise. They were created in the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, to love their God and to be devoted to Him with their whole being. They were also intimately joined to each other in the holy bond of matrimony, devoted to each other through their devotion to the Most High. Even as God is holy, so they were holy in their sexual relationship to each other. Even as God was faithful to His covenant life, so they knew only faithfulness to one another. Sin was foreign to them. They were naked, and were not ashamed.
But our first parents were fallible. They could be tempted; they were tempted, and they fell into sin. By God’s grace they fell into the arms of Christ, so that they along with their spiritual seed, according to the plan and purpose of God, became God’s wife, the Bride of Christ, sworn to Him as faithful unto death!
God is now betrothed with an infallible oath and promise, that He will preserve and bless His church, adorning her as a wife for her husband in preparation for the wedding feast of the Lamb!
We have the holy institution of marriage as evidence of God’s abiding and unchanging love for His people, and as a reflection of His own blessed communion of life in His own being, a reflection of Christ and His Bride living in the fellowship of the Spirit!
Blessed are they who are married in the Lord!
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed unspotted!
Not so long ago, even members of the church considered anything that pertained to sex to be sordid. They spoke of sex and marital relationships in a whisper. Teenagers were kept ignorant of the facts of life, lest their minds be contaminated. Women tried to hide their pregnancy from the public eye.
Times have changed. The pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction.
Sex is the most popular subject of the day. Advertisers use sex to attract attention to their product. Television programs and novels are saturated with the smut of carnal lusts and corrupt sexual relationships. There is nothing so private that it is withheld from the public.
That which is most holy is shamefully corrupted! It sounds like mockery still to speak of a holy marriage bond! That which was instituted by God as an intimate expression of our union of love and fellowship with the God of our salvation has been degraded into an expression of carnal lust and rebellion against God’s commandments.
Boys and girls, men and women live promiscuously, share beds without being married, live together under the same roof, and all that without a semblance of shame, even to the point reached in Romans 1:32, that they “not only do the same, but take delight in them that do them.” The ethics of our day require, that if this is what they want, that is their business, and no one should interfere. This is encouraged by the advertisements for contraceptives. And if a girl should become pregnant, she can always have an abortion, with very little expense or shame. It is said that during the last few years already a million and a half babies have been murdered.
Many regard marriage as nothing more than a contract drawn up between the two, with equal rights. Both may determine to work, in order to obtain the desired luxuries, and later to have children upon their discretion. At present more divorces are handed out than marriage licenses extended. All of which is another evidence that God is not in all their thoughts!
Almost unaware, but just as surely, these evils are working their way into the church. We are children of our time, often more than we realize!
Scripture speaks of being married in the Lord!
Marriage is the union of two persons of the opposite sex, each with a distinct nature, different from the other, yet drawn together by a common bond that attracts them to each other. When we consider how we bungle in choosing a life mate, often without making this a matter of serious prayer, we can only marvel how God in His mercy brings together a proper husband for a proper wife, who live together in blessed union in Christ! Here again we see how completely our lives are controlled and governed by the determining counsel and hand of God, Who with His own hand brings to each man his own wife, divinely chosen, divinely prepared for each individual, hand made as it were!
Marriage is also a union of love: two hearts joined together to beat as one. By this I do not refer to the sexual appetite that robs a woman of her sense of right and wrong and leads a man like a dumb ox to the slaughter. But I refer to the natural sexual attraction that draws one man to a particular woman as sanctified by the grace of Christ! An exclusive love is awakened that grows into an intimacy known only to husband and wife, a personal sphere, which no third party, not even the children can share.
Scripture also speaks of a love that can best be described as “friendship.” Two persons meet, sometimes under peculiar circumstances, and are brought together by the Lord. Those two are meant for each other, for even as they would not be here if it were not for their parents, so their children can be born only from them! Their affection for each other grows, as well as their interest in each other’s welfare; there is a growing desire to be together, and an emptiness when not together. As their lives are woven together, they are always in each other’s thoughts. They need each other. It only naturally follows, that they are joined in the bond of marriage, and that henceforth they walk life’s pathway together, until death breaks the marriage bond. Even after death has taken one or the other, the memories stay, so that it seems as if even then the bond is not entirely broken!
A truly happy and divinely acceptable marriage is at the same time a spiritual union, a marriage in the Lord. Basically, they love each other because the love of God permeates their hearts and minds. They agree on sound doctrine, on a godly walk, on their devotion to God and that which is spiritual and eternal. Nothing brings more disharmony and misery in the home than when husband and wife are not of one spiritual mind and will! Similarly, nothing solves daily problems like the spiritual unity between husband and wife, as they meet together before the throne of grace. Our fathers often prayed, “Cut us not off in our generations.” They had in mind the fact that they were covenant parents, called to rear children that God gave them in the fear of His name, and thus they would be instrumental in their own small way toward the gathering of the church and the coming of God’s kingdom!
Saints in Christ Jesus reflect the mystery of Christ and His Bride!
Young people must be aware of this awesome responsibility long before the marriage vows are spoken! Young men and young women must prayerfully ask that the Lord direct them to the lifemate of His choice. Dating and courtship must be kept pure and wholesome. The best expression of your love for each other is to maintain your self esteem as well as your respect for each other. Luring one or the other into sin can only create a sense of guilt and an area of distrust. The pathway of sin knows of no return, no stopping, but is a steep decline that leads to untold misery. This is a bad beginning for an anticipated happy marriage. A wholesome marriage is built on trust, deep respect for one another, and a mutual faithfulness! The man who takes upon himself the responsibility of a wife must be worthy of that position. The bride adorned in her white wedding gown must be a worthy expression of the virgin love of Christ for His Bride!
Scripture requires of husbands: Love your wives! There are no ifs and buts appended to this demand. You are the responsible head of your wife, even as Christ is the Head of His church. Assume that responsibility wholeheartedly and prayerfully. You must be willing to lay down your life for your wife, loving her as your own flesh, even as Christ loves His church and gave Himself as a ransom for us. Your deepest concern must be the spiritual welfare of your wife and family, even as Christ sanctifies us through His Word and by His Spirit. You must love that hand-picked, very special wife that God gave you!
Wives, Scripture says that you must submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto Christ! The dutiful wife gives up her name and her personal ambitions to devote herself to the life of her husband. Even as the husband must be willing to die for his wife, so the wife must be willing to surrender her life in serving her husband. It is difficult to say which is the hardest, to die for someone or to live for someone. In any case, abundant grace is necessary, along with much prayer and devotion to God! There is no higher calling or position in this world for any woman than to bear children and to instruct them in the fear of the Lord by daily word and example! Many children shall call her blessed long after she has gone into glory!
The husband is a tower of strength in the fear of the Lord! The wife’s adornment is in her daily devotion to God and to her family! Faithfulness to the marriage vow is faithfulness to God! And holy must that servant be, who dwells in God’s House!
God commands His blessing there!