I ordered my coffee and made myself comfortable in the corner of the café ready to read what I had been handed. I was preparing to officiate a wedding and I had been given a document about the Song of Solomon.
I squirmed in my chair.
I don’t read Song of Solomon very often. Maybe it’s the poetic language that I struggle with or the old-fashioned metaphors.
I’ve even tried some of the pickup lines from the Song of Solomon with my wife, but she wasn’t impressed with, ‘Your teeth are like a flock of sheep’.
I must admit there’s another reason I don’t read this very often, nor preach on the topic.
I’m not too comfortable talking about sex.
Even now I am cowering away on my laptop thinking I’ve become an unwholesome, dirty man who needs immediate redemption.
Though I’ve been thinking a little lately.
Sex is God’s idea.
There, I’ve said it.
For too long the secular world has taken sex and perverted it, tarnished its image and made a fortune out of promiscuity. Tinder. I don’t even know what I’m talking about.
People of faith have shied away from even uttering the three-letter word. The church has unwittingly kept discussion about all things sexual to the world at large. It has inadvertently abdicated its voice on the topic and lost all credibility in the process.
The world needed direction about fostering healthy, strong marriages, and the church was silent. I speak generally when I say, it seems people of faith have struggled over the years to talk about the topic. Not only that, the church has been rocked by scandal after scandal in recent years that has made Jerry Springer appear tame. We subsequently felt we didn’t have a platform to speak on such topics and went silent.
The silence must stop
Something is stirring within the people of God in these days. I have pastor friends who are beginning to talk about the importance of marriage and even God’s gift of sex to couples.
I never heard this talk before.
I don’t think I’ve been oblivious to it, I just think we didn’t talk like this. I assume the church was so embarrassed by its shortcomings that it lost its voice on the topic altogether.
I think for the sake of God’s work in the world, the silence must stop.
The Christian faith has important points to make about establishing and nurturing intimate relationships. There are many people of faith, with strong, healthy relationships, that need to teach others about fidelity, forgiveness, nurturing an intimate relationship, trust and all the rest that comes with it.
The Song of Solomon
The love that takes place in the Song of Solomon, takes place in the context of a couple’s loving, committed relationship. Love within a covenant is the main theme of the book, without which the book itself cannot be rightly understood. The relationship expressed in the Song of Solomon is nothing other than total dedication and permanent obligation.
We live in a culture of immediacy. This culture runs contrary to the teaching of Scripture. In this world, we see relationships that have no boundaries, love that is cheap, and sex that is expressed outside marriage covenants, that ultimately lack the permanency and intimacy found in a relationship centred around God.
On the flipside we read in the Bible about love that is unconditional, love that is quick to forgive and love that doesn’t give up on another when times are difficult. As the Song of Solomon puts it, ‘Love is as strong as death’ and ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.’ It is about covenant love. Love that is expressed in promises that do not simply fade away when the honeymoon is over. This is love that, as the Song of Solomon puts it, is a seal upon the heart; a seal upon the arm.
So it’s time we stopped the silence. Sex is God’s idea. Strong marriages are God’s idea. Healthy, loving, covenantal relationships are God’s idea.
I’ve finished my coffee now. I’m a little less uncomfortable. I’m a little less embarrassed.
After all, it was God’s idea.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
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