Summary: Running the race means sexual purity which is a type of the faithful and intimate relationship we have with God.
We’re continuing again in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews. The writer has encouraged the readers to finish the race set before them and to cling only to Christ who is greater than all creation. In our last study we saw that running this race means loving each other as brothers, entertaining strangers, and remembering them that are persecuted and bound for the gospel.
Now, in this study, we’re going to press on into verses 4-6 and see that running the race means sexual purity:
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Now, the context here is explicitly about sex. He’s not talking about marriage in general—he’s talking about the marriage bed. “Everything about marriage is good; it’s honorable. The bed, the place where the husband and wife share their most intimate moments, is a pure place without any kind of spiritual stain.
Now we have to think about things like this from the perspective of a first-century Jew since this is a letter to the Hebrews. Go to Leviticus 15:
2When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean.
4Every bed, whereon he lieth that hath the issue, is unclean: and every thing, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean. 5And whosoever toucheth his bed shall […] be unclean until the even.
16And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. 17And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. 18The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.
19And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. 20And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
But now Christ has come and all these types and shadows are fulfilled in Him, and we’re no longer bound to the Law.
So, he’s saying, “Run the race with perseverance. The marriage bed is clean, but whoremongers and adulterers will be judged.” A whoremonger is a fornicator. The Greek word is πόρνους (pornous). So this is someone having sex outside of marriage, and an adulterer is a married person who has sex with someone other than his or her spouse.
But the real question is, why does this matter? What difference does it make if I have sex with one person or five people or fifteen people or fifty? I think we all agree that monogamy is the moral thing to do, but how did it get to be moral? What right do we have to tell each other what we can and can’t do with our own bodies?