Scripture: verse 18
If a man goes to bed with a woman and has sexual relations, both are to bathe themselves in water; they will be unclean until evening.
Observation: Having sex with your spouse renders you unclean until evening. Presumably the following evening, but I’m not sure. It’s possible that couples who have sex just before sundown didn’t have to be unclean for very long.
I have to admit that this mystifies me. Couples who only have sex a few times a month won’t be unduly bothered by it, but most couples (today, at least) have sex at least once a week. High-drive couples and newlyweds and such would just never get to be clean. Which would make sense if God were anti-sex, but He isn’t.
On the other hand, there’s a rule about newlyweds: they aren’t supposed to be given heavy responsibilities. A new husband was free for one year, to make his wife happy (Deut 24:5).
So we have two sides here: ceremony, and intimacy. And intimacy detracts from ceremony. Intimacy with other people is also likely to result in uncleanness, for that matter, since it was the people who were closest to sick and mourning people who would be most likely to be made unclean.
And intimacy trumps ceremony. Someone who was unclean couldn’t participate in Temple worship, but we also know that God wanted His people to love each other more than He wanted them to perform the ceremonies (Isaiah 58.)
And then in Luke 10, we have the story of Miriam and Marta. Marta bustled around doing the work of preparing for a feast. Miriam chose to sit at Yeshua’s feet and gaze into His face, and Yeshua said that she had chosen the one thing that is essential.
We are relational creatures. We need intimacy far more than we need ceremony.
Application: Prioritize intimacy above duty. Intimacy with God, with family, with friends, is more important than most of the other stuff we “should” be doing.
Prayer: Father, thank you for creating us to be intimate with each other. Help me to see the opportunities you are giving me to know others and be known. Amen.