This past Sunday, Pastor Joey finished preaching on the Song of Songs, a book that we’ve spent the last 10 weeks preaching through (if you’re interested in listening to any of our sermons, they can be found here: http://sunsetchurchsf.org/resources/sermons/sermon-archive-2014). Studying through this book has been both scary and fun; and with it has come lots of healing and preparation for me in my upcoming marriage. After 10 weeks of fruitful study and preaching through God’s handbook on romance, marriage, and sex, here are some of my concluding thoughts on the Songs and its topic of love.
Romance, love, and sex are areas of either great chaos or great joy.
When we started the book of Song of Songs, we focused on the fact that this is Wisdom literature in Scripture – Wisdom focused on the realm of love and relationships. Biblical scholars define Wisdom as the ability to bring order out of chaos in every area of life – an order only achieved through the fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10; Walton, IVPOT).
Romance, love, and sex are no different. Song 8:6 declares that “love is strong as death”; and like death, that love can either powerfully captivate, or powerfully kill. It can either bring great chaos to ones life, or great joy. The determining factor is how seek Scripture’s guidance to apply Wisdom – bringing God’s order into our lives – in these areas of romance, love, sex, dating, marriage, relationships, and the like.
If you’re single, act like it.
As a youth, I heard people say “Save yourself for marriage! Guard your heart!” But what does that actually mean? I often thought it meant that I just couldn’t have sex before marriage. I thought it meant signing a purity card, or wearing a purity ring. The problem was that I didn’t know how to deal with the attraction I was feeling throughout the hormonal raging years of high school and college. I didn’t know how to navigate areas of intimacy when I was tempted, or how to think Biblically about love and sex.
We often view purity in singleness as simply a physical thing. But we ignore the nature of love – that it is not born simply out of physical affection, but also emotional intimacy – through quality and quantity time, words of affection, and special attention. Singles today (and dating couples included) struggle with temptation and purity because they they view purity as purely physical boundaries. The problem with that is once the emotional boundaries of intimacy begin to be pushed, physical intimacy naturally wants to follow. That’s how love and sex is cultivated.
So if you’re single (read: not married) act like it. Don’t just set physical boundaries; set emotional boundaries. Guard your heart by not stirring up or awakening love before the proper time (Songs 2:7; 3:5; 8:4); not just sex, love:
- Be careful with how late you stay out with your girlfriend.
- Don’t share your most intimate secrets with your boyfriend early on in the relationship.
- Don’t flirt with a guy just to get his attention.
- Don’t give a girl extra attention just because it feels good.
- Keep your opposite sex friends at arm’s length, and your same sex friends close.
- Don’t talk with a guy friend for extended periods of time (or in our generation, text, chat, FaceTime, Facebook, Tweet, etc.).
- Don’t treat that girl friend with special attention if you’re not willing to commit to marrying her.
If you’re married, enjoy it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marriage through my study of Song of Songs, it’s that there is plenty to be enjoyed within marriage. There’s the joys of staring at your spouse’s beauty (4:1-16; 7:1-6). There’s the joys of confiding in one another (1:5-10; 8:5,13-14). There’s the joys of love and attraction like no other relationship (2:3-6; 7:10). And there’s the joys of sex and physical intimacy (4:16-5:1; 7:7-13). These are all elements of the covenant relationship of marriage that are meant to be enjoyed with one’s spouse. The problem is not enjoying these aspects of love and sex in marriage; the problem is when we isolate these aspects from one another.
Just as emotional intimacy is to be guarded against in singleness for its power to lead to the physical, so it is to be enjoyed with the physical within marriage. A great sex life is designed to be enjoyed within marriage; but it’s designed to be great within the context of all else that was designed to be great within marriage – emotional and physical. So enjoy it all; don’t hold back parts of yourself from your spouse:
- Wives, let your husband enjoy your body
- Husbands, give your wife the attention she needs, not just physically, but emotionally too
- Wives, be attentive to your husbands needs – and act accordingly
- Husbands, be intentional about romancing your wife in ways that only she would appreciate
So don’t make marriage more than it was designed to be. Since the creation of marriage, it was designed not to be perfect on this side of heaven, but to point us to the perfect marriage awaiting us on the other side. Marriage was designed not to completely satisfy us in this world, but to point to the only relationship that can satisfy in the world to come. Long not for a perfect marriage here – you’ll be looking the rest of your life. Long for the eternal marriage to come.
Part 1: What are these 39 books for?
Part 2: Corrective Lenses: Reading the Bible like we “read” Art?
Part 3: Song of Songs: What does it mean and Why does it matter?
Part 4: “Song of Songs for the Youth?!” Applying Old Wisdom to a New Generation