In the death and resurrection of Jesus, a way is opened up for man to know God. In taking the penalty for our sin, purity and wholeness are made possible and we are able to enter into the Holy presence of God and enjoy communion with Him.
The marriage bed is a shadow of this communion and our lives are adorned with the gospel when we treat this space in our lives as set apart, sanctified and holy before the Lord.
Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled… (Hebrews 13:4)
Not all spaces in the universe are the same. The heavens declare the Lord’s glory and are a home to sun, moon and stars. Israel had designated areas in its temple courts and in the days of King Saul, some caves were for sleeping and others were attending to more personal needs.
The bedroom is a holy place with a door.
It’s a sanctuary. Not because of the furniture but because of what takes place there. Therefore the author of Hebrews says, the marriage bed is to be kept undefiled.
When Malachi asked God why He created Man and Woman (Malachi 2:14-15), God replied not merely that He wanted multiplication, but the multiplication of godly seed.
The bed is set apart for, among other things, the purpose of producing godly seed. But this is not all. The marriage of a man and a woman is not just about pleasure, and not just about procreation. It is a vivid and very intimate portrayal of a most holy communion.
So, not only the bed but the room in which this takes place is also a place of holiness. It is set aside from other places in the house. It is culturally a no go zone for strangers and even friends, and that itself suggests it importance.
One of the ways to honour the marriage bed and keep it from defilement is to actually spend time thinking about it, about its surrounds, its separateness from other spaces and about what goes on there.
First, the bed is a holy place where vows are exchanged and kept.
One of the ways the marriage bed is kept undefiled is by keeping the vows of which the bed speaks. That means honouring the people who come into this room of the house.
Honour, in this regard, is not something locked up invisibly in the heart. What would we say of the man who keeps away from the adulterous women, yet belittles his wife in bed? In an important sense, he has kept his vows, but in another important sense, he has not.
Likewise, what would we say of the man who spends every other evening in front of the internet ogling other peoples’ daughters, yet comes to bed afterwards promising that, deep down, he really truly loves his wife? Has he honoured the marriage bed? No.
Honour must have external expression, it must have a witness and that witness is a godly life where vows are honoured and defended publicly and privately.
Secondly, the bedroom is a holy place which speaks through the surrounding furniture.
One of the things we learn in the Songs of Solomon’s is the importance of surroundings, the importance of context. The rafters, Solomon says, are made of cedar and the couch is green (Song of Solomon 1:16-17). Apparently, that matters.
There are a number of important and very practical points here.
Just like the highly decorated Holy of Holies with its tapestries, woodwork and ornaments, which spoke of the importance of what was going on as man communed with God, so too, the bedroom should reflect the importance and beauty of the communion going on in it.
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The bedroom is not just another room in the house in which to play indoor cricket or dump the laundry.
In honouring the marriage bed we are to consider its architecture in light of its purpose. In fact, the architecture will often speak more truthfully of its purpose than perhaps many of the things we might otherwise say about it.
In the normal scheme of things, the room should not be a chaotic jumble. When it is, a statement is being made: That what goes on in here is relatively unimportant.
So, one of the ways to show the value we place on what goes on in this sanctuary is to actually make the bed, change the sheets. The goal is not ostentation. The goal is simple beauty, humility and a reverence for what this room means. And so, spend time ensuring that the décor, its sight and smell, reflect something of that humble reverence and beauty.
In this way, the married couple are saying that they esteem what occurs there. And why should they esteem what goes on in this room?
Because, the marriage bed speaks of the communion we now have in Jesus Christ. And so, it is to be holy and undefiled, just as our fellowship with Him is holy and undefiled.
As Paul said in Ephesians 5, the union between a man and a woman is a great mystery that speaks of Christ and the Church under the metaphor of a Bride and Groom. Such metaphors matter.
To say that, since a marriage bed is just a shadow, type, symbol or metaphor it doesn’t matter what goes on there, is a form of reductionist thinking that tends toward a hard heart.
Circumcision is also just a type. One which almost got Moses killed (Exodus 4:24-26). The serpent on the pole was just a type. One that, through which, men were given life (Numbers 21:8). Communion is just a shadow. One that, if taken foolishly, brought literal death (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
What a man and woman share in marriage is a type and a shadow, of the communion we have in Jesus.
We are not, obviously not, talking about the mechanics of the communion but its nature.
Communion with Jesus is a sweet-smelling fragrance, so should this bed be. Communion with Jesus is to the exclusion of all others. So should this bed be.
We know this intuitively, don’t we? Visitors avoid this room and sick kids make a beeline for it, Why?
Communion with Jesus is a place of safety, rest, beauty and healing. So should this room be.
Communion with Jesus and His Church is a place where godliness is multiplied, where healing, wholeness, covering and forgiveness take place. So should this room be.