I am writing this article as a result of much time spent pondering over my brother’s most recent post at his web site, http://www.challies.com. There, Tim has written about sex and intimacy, both how it is abused in our culture and how it is intended to be biblically. Tim cites Songs of Solomon as the best place to find an obvious show of intense marital love, desire and commitment in the bible.
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Now, I have a confession to make. Songs of Solomon as a book can rather intimidate me. what do I mean by that? Well, the exchange between Solomon and his young Shulammite lover are simply bathed in such a pure and beautiful, reckless desire that knows none of the negativity or criticism that I find can so easily impede such constant romance in a courtship or marriage. Movies such as “Life is Beautiful” or “The Notebook” run through my head as I read this chapter of the bible, an automatic response, I suppose, of a romantic who has a finely tuned knowledge of what true love is in films, but not neccessarily always in real life; who can give up everything for a few hours to a screen writer’s fantasy. To use that energy instead twoards reality…to surrender my feelings of love for Rick so unabashedly…feelings which grow daily as we near our anniversary, and tell him such truths on a regular basis as, “How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming!” or “You have stolen my heart, my (husband), my (groom); you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.” Would not that kind of intimacy and transparency be an awesome addition to any marriage?
On the other hand, artist Bruce Springsteen declares in his song “The Secret Garden”, that there is a secret garden within a woman, a place locked up which will never be openned to a man no matter how close their relationship may get emotionally and physically. He sings, “She’s got a secret garden/ Where everything you want/ Where everything you need/ Will stay a million miles away.” Fortunately, there is a strikingly different message apparent in Songs of Solomon. Though the lovers wisely control their undeniable desires to give themselves over to each other physically, thus keeping their desires “locked up” metaphorically until marriage, they do not deny each other the awesome experience of knowing one other emotionally and spiritually. They know that they are intended for each other, proclaiming with fervency, “My lover is mine and I am his,”and thus see no reason to hide their feelings and thoughts as they have found a secure refuge in each other. In short, they know that true, everlasting love encompasses a tender weaving together of the whole self, given wisely, yet totally surrendered to the other person. Like a stick of peppermints, continually peeled away to get at another candy, our surrendered selves will always carry unchartered crevices of course, yet it is these things, shared with a mate, which can heighten the elements of discovery through out the years together.
After contemplating this debated book, which baffles as well as bothers many for its place in the bible, I no longer feel intimidated but rather inspired…inspired to ditch assumptions and instead verbalize my love and desire for Rick whenever I can. I have been blessed with a beautiful man, inside and out, who follows after God faithfully and passionately declares his admiration for his bride on a regular basis, which, put together, is everything. Together the passions will also intensify our relationship with Christ, the ultimate king who will come gather us all, his underserving people, in a beautiful culmination at the end of this earthly kingdom. Until then, all creation sings in admiration and exaltation to the author of beauty, of love, of passion, and of desire.
*Verses taken from NIV study bible