One of our tasks as Christians is to bring everything we do into conformity with the Scriptures, in every room of the house. This includes the bedroom (Rom. 12:1-2).
1Let brotherly love continue. 2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. 4Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Heb. 13: 1-5).
This passage begins with an exhortation to brotherly love, which sets the context for what follows (v. 1). This love will result in hospitality, the entertaining of strangers (v. 2). The next is the visiting of those who cannot visit you. They may be in the hospital, bed-ridden at home, or in prison (v. 3). Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled (v. 4). God judges all infidelity and sexual corruption. The root from which this infidelity springs is a life of covetousness, lack of contentment (v. 5). But God has promised never to desert us.
As we work our way through the house, the routine applications are made to those who are married with children. The reasons for this are obvious, but it is hopefully just as obvious that there are some erroneous and harmful applications that could be drawn from this.
In a context where most adults are married, and in the context of a church where this is emphasized and is a cause of much rejoicing, it might be easy to drift into a “fifth wheel” or “what’s the use?” mindset. The two rooms of the house where such problems are likely to be accentuated are the dining room and the bed room—and the problems can range from self-pity to loneliness to laziness. But the unmarried are called to establish healthy households as well. Being unmarried is no legitimate barrier to obedience.
With regard to the bedroom, the unmarried honor the marriage bed as much as do the married, but they do so by different means. The first means is by honoring the vows of others; an unmarried person can commit adultery or fornication. The second means is by cultivating a spirit of contentment with what God has given (v. 5).
In the same way, those who are married need to take care that they do not adopt a patronizing attitude toward households with an unmarried head. Lydia was as much the head of her house as the Philippian jailer was (Acts 16:15). Be particularly careful about stray comments—e.g. “Why aren’t you married yet?” Also be careful about lowering the standards of civil behavior; do not make excuses of the sort that might help create a two-tier system of families.
AND WHY ONE?
God created mankind in His image, male and female created He them (Gen. 1:27). The fact that this design feature has a large aesthetic element in it does not mean that it is aesthetic or recreational in isolation. In this, as in so many other areas of life, form follows function. And God has made the world in such a way that the form and function are complementary.
The prophet Malachi asked why God had made man and woman. “Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. and did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth” (Mal. 2:14-15).
Sexual relations are for the propagation of children. But there is a way of applying this which is actually disobedience. Therefore take heed to your spirit.
One of the ways to honor the marriage bed is to actually spend some time thinking about the bed, and about its surroundings. This should be obvious; you have spent a third of your life there. One of the things we learn in the Song of Solomon is the importance of surroundings and context. The rafters are cedar.
Two important points: one is that you should design and/or decorate your bedroom as though you were not gnostics. The second is that the principle of “my life for yours” which permeates the rest of the house should be pervasive here as well. If it does not, then sexual relations are deadly and the font of all bitterness.
When Adam first saw Eve, he wrote the first poem (Gen. 2:23). His bride was taken from him in order to be given back to him. One became two in order that those two might become one. We know that this partaking of one another is a type of the ultimate partaking, the koinonia in which the Lord and His people become one. As this ultimate partaking is not a “mere” mechanical unity, neither is the type. In other words, the sexual union is designed for closeness, fellowship, and companionship.