Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Passion, God Style

The topic of today is…get ready…sex.  I know I’m being a bit sassy, starting a blog post off like that, but then “sassy” seems to be my middle name lately, so here goes!

After firing that warning shot across the metaphorical bow, I will tell you that I’ve been reading a Bible book called Song of Songs, written by King Solomon. I’m not sure why – it just seemed to come up one day when I asked God “Well, what should I be reading next in your Book?” I approached it with a little trepidation because – well, you know – it’s about passion and all that.  My finely honed evangelical sensibilities cause me to blush inwardly at some parts of that book and I tend to avoid it as a result.  However, I decided just to get on with it and I will share a few insights that popped up along the way.

First, here’s a little background information about the author of Song of Songs. King Solomon was the son of King David and was also builder of the first temple in Jerusalem. He loved and revered God very much, though he wasn’t perfect. He had lots of wives and concubines, as was the custom for successful rulers in that society at that time, and this, coupled with a spiritual lethargy that seemed to develop in the latter part of his life, eventually caused a lot of problems for him. That aside, God loved Solomon and bestowed upon him an enormous amount of insight and wisdom, so I approached Song of Songs with that in mind.

Since I am not a theologian, Bible teacher or preacher, any insights expressed after this are mostly my own musings and not an “official creed” of any sort.  I thought I’d better mention that so you don’t expect that type of thing.  As you can find out from any Bible commentary, the accepted wisdom about Song of Songs is that it is not just a book about a love affair back in ancient times.  It is a “type” or picture of the relationship between God and his people.  I have no reason to disagree with the general consensus of so many theologians, so I won’t.  However, I decided to approach my reading of Song of Songs as an exercise in listening to what God wanted to say to me about it, pure and simple. 

Solomon opens Chapter One with these words: This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other.

It is as if he is saying that this song is the greatest one he’s ever written – perhaps the best his readers would ever hear too – and that it’s expressing something of immense importance. Then he launches right into the main matter, which is the intimate relationship between a young man and woman who are deeply in love.  It isn’t a sanitized, churchy type of description, but one that gets down to the nitty-gritty of what goes on in a love relationship.  This is where I should tell you to gird your loins and get ready for some references to sexuality.  Well, perhaps “gird your loins” is not the most fortunate way to word that, but anyway…. I will speak of sex, but the word “dirty” does not apply here – not at all.  Whew!

The rest of the book is a description of how the two passionate lovers see and relate to each other.  They describe each other’s physical charms in rhapsodic ways. We start to get the idea that this is a real, down-to-earth, man-woman relationship when the young woman says, “Take me with you; come, let’s run! The king has brought me into his bedroom.”  Later in the chapter, we read: “The king is lying on his couch, enchanted by the fragrance of my perfume. My lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.”  And so it goes.

I’m making note of such things because these natural, uninhibited references to the sexual attraction between a man and woman who are besotted with each other is what stood out to me most strongly during my first reading of Song of Songs.  If God inspired Solomon to write about this – and I believe he did – then God is not nearly so shy or conflicted about sex as a good proportion of Christendom has been over the centuries.

A few other thoughts that accompanied further reading:

  • God understands sexual passion.  He created us as sexual beings, so this aspect of humanity must express something of God, for we were made “in his image”.  More on that later

  • God frequently compares His relationship with his people to marriage (see whole book of Hosea and Ezekiel 23 to get a taste of this)

  • God loves us deeply, passionately and singularly and does not think it is “okay” if we share our affections with other “gods” or idols

If you are anything like me, you are feeling a tad uncomfortable at some of this.  In my next post, I hope to talk a little bit more about God, human sexuality and what, in all that’s holy, Song of Songs is doing in the Bible.  Watch this space!


What do you think Song of Songs has to say to us today?


  1. Hello Mrs. Janson,

    My name is Candace. It's lovely to meet you virtually, and perhaps someday, I will have the pleasure of meeting you face to face!

    Your husband showed my your blogspot today, and I enjoyed reading your observations on the "Song of Songs".

    I love how the Song of Songs closely parallels the relationship that the Apostle John had with Jesus Christ. For example, to follow a train of thought beginning in the Song of Songs through to John's writings: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was *love*." (Song of Solomon 2:4)..."For God so *loved* the world, that he gave his only begotton Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)..."We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we *love* the brethren...(I John 3:14a).

    I'm so glad God has given me assurance of having passed from death to everlasting life--life alluded to in the Song of Songs and made abundantly clear in the writings of John.

  2. Candice! How lovely to meet you, albeit virtually. Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate the insights you add as well. The Gospel of John was the first Bible book I read, long ago and far away, when I first became a Christian. God's love does shine through John's writings, doesn't it? So, the way you tie John in with Song of Songs really resonates with me. I agree with you and, like you, am abundantly thankful for God's gracious gifts.

    I hope to meet you in person one day!