Archives For Marriage


This was a great read. I read this in preparation for some per-marital counseling I am doing and I was trying to find a book that would help them look at marriage through a God-honoring lens. Little did I know that this book would help me in my own marriage to understand what a covenant is and what it means to place marriage in the context of servant-hood. This is a go-to book for those who are recently married, those who have been marriage for thirty years, those whose marriages are on the verge of divorce, those who are about to get married and those who are divorced and maybe want to get back together. Read this book! Some pros and cons…

PROS

  • Extremely biblical! Keller weaves passages of Scripture throughout the entirety of the book and uses God’s story from Genesis to Revelation to paint a picture of what marriage should be.
  • Confronts false assumptions about marriages. Have you ever encountered someone whose view of marriage was so false you just knew that it was destined for divorce? Keller confronts these false assumptions.
  • Talks openly about the “S” word. That’s right…SEX. Nobody is looking… you can go ahead and say it… SEX! He talks about the joy of sex within a covenant relationship but also talks about the pain of sex outside the covenant relationship.
  • Not statistical. I get anxiety attacks when people break out droves of statistics about this marriage and that marriage. Keller does not do that….his goal is theological not theoretical.

CONS

  • Keller is on a different level of thinking than most of us (or maybe it’s just me :)) and his book can be difficult to weave through if no theological background is present. I think this would be helpful more to the Christian than the non-Christian but both could still benefit.
  • I wish there were study guides and group discussion guides for this book (that will probably come or may already be out). This is excellent small group material but it is not available yet.

Some amazing quotes…

  • Despite the claim of the young man in the Gallup survey, “a substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.”(p. 15)
  • Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. (p. 29-30)
  • Modern people make the painfulness of marriage even greater than it has to be, because they crush it under the weight of their almost cosmically impossible expectations. (p. 33)
  • If our views of marriage are too romantic and idealistic, we underestimate the influence of sin on human life. If they are too pessimistic and cynical, we misunderstand marriage’s divine origin. If we somehow manage, as our modern culture has, to do both at once, we are doubly burdened by a distorted vision. (p. 36)
  • The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. (p. 40)
  • If we look to our spouses to fill up our tanks in a way that only God can do, we are demanding an impossibility. (p. 44)
  • Only if you have learned to serve others by the power of the Holy Spirit will you have the power to face the challenges of marriage. (p. 43).
  • When you first fall in love, you think you love the person, but you don’t really. You can’t know who the person is right away. That takes years. You actually love your idea of the person—and that is always, at first, one-dimensional and somewhat mistaken. (p. 86)
  • To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. (p. 87)
  • We think of a prospective spouse as primarily a lover (or a provider), and if he or she can be a friend on top of that, well isn’t that nice! We should be going at it the other way around. Screen first for friendship. Look for someone who understands you better than you do yourself, who makes you a better person just by being around them. And then explore whether that friendship could become a romance and a marriage. (p. 117-18)
  • When you get married, your spouse is a big truck driving right through your heart. Marriage brings out the worst in you. It doesn’t create your weaknesses (though you may blame your spouse for your blow-ups)—it reveals them. This is not a bad thing, though. How can you change into your “glory-self” if you assume that you’re already pretty close to perfect as it is? (p. 131)
  • Truth without love ruins the oneness, and love without truth gives the illusion of unity but actually stops the journey and the growth. The solution is grace. The experience of Jesus’s grace makes it possible to practice the two most important skills in marriage: forgiveness and repentance. Only if we are very good at forgiving and very good at repenting can truth and love be kept together. (p. 155)
  • Even the best marriage cannot by itself fill the void in our souls left by God. Without a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Christ now, and hope in a perfect love relationship with him in the future, married Christians will put too much pressure on their marriage to fulfill them, and that will always create pathology in their lives. But singles, too, must see the penultimate status of marriage. If single Christians don’t develop a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Jesus, they will put too much pressure on their dream of marriage, and that will create pathology in their lives as well. However, if singles learn to rest in and rejoice in their marriage to Christ, that means they will be able to handle single life without a devastating sense of being unfulfilled and unformed. And they might as well tackle this spiritual project right away. Why? Because the same idolatry of marriage that is distorting their single lives will eventually distort their married lives if they find a partner. So there’s no reason to wait. Demote marriage and family in your heart, put God first, and begin to enjoy the goodness of single life. (p. 190)
  • How different seeking marriage would be if, as we argued earlier in this book, we were to view marriage as a vehicle for spouses helping each other become their glorious future-selves through sacrificial service and spiritual friendship. What happens if we see the mission of marriage to teach us about our sins in unique and profound ways and to grow us out of them through providing someone who speaks the truth in love to us? How different it would be if we were to fall in love especially with the glorious thing God is doing in our spouse’s life? Ironically, this view of marriage eventually does provide unbelievable personal fulfillment, but not in the sacrifice-free and superficial way that contemporary people want it to come. Instead, it gives the unique, breathtaking fulfillment of visible character growth (Ephesians 5:25–27) into love, peace, joy, and hope (Colossians 1; Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 13). (p. 195)
  • Biblical Christianity may be the most body-positive religion in the world. It teaches that God made matter and physical bodies and saw that it was all good (Genesis 1:31). It says that in Jesus Christ God himself actually took on a human body (which he still has in glorified form), and that someday he is going to give us all perfect, resurrected bodies. It says that God created sexuality and gave a woman and man to each other in the beginning. The Bible contains great love poetry that celebrates sexual passion and pleasure. If anyone says that sex is bad or dirty in itself, we have the entire Bible to contradict him. (p. 213)
  • Indeed, sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being. Sex is God’s appointed way for two people to reciprocally say to one another, “I belong completely, permanently, and exclusively to you.” You must not use sex to say anything less. (p. 215-16)
  • In short, the greatest sexual pleasure should be the pleasure of seeing your spouse getting pleasure. When you get to the place where giving arousal is the most arousing thing, you are practicing this principle. (p. 225)

I love being a husband and I love being a dad. I struggle at times with both but I would not trade it for a second because I love it!!! I also love it when people ask how many kids I have because their response is the same no matter how many times I get asked. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Person:  So do you have kids?

Me:  I sure do.

Person: How many?

Me: Four…Kaleb…

Person (Interrupting): YOU HAVE FOUR KIDS?!?!?!?

Me: Ummm…yeah.

Person: How close are they?

Me: Kaleb is 6, Amelia is 5, Madelyn is almost 4 and Samuel is 2.

Person (Laughing in disbelief): Sheesh, you’re crazy.

Depending on who they are they follow up with an elbow in my arm saying, “You know what causes that right?” Har…har!

People are shocked when they hear that my wife and I have four kids and at first I thought it to be comical but now I am starting to wonder if we are on an island alone somewhere in the Pacific. The trend now is to wait until you are older to get married and even more to have kids. If you do have kids then the maximum is two, maybe three if it is an accident. My wife and I certainly avoided the trend as we were married at 22 and 21 respectively and we had Samuel, our youngest, by the time we were 29 and 28 which means our youngest will graduate high-school when we are 47 and 46. Sounds good to me!

I don’t get it though as to why people wait. From a financial perspective I can understand why one would not have four kids (it is tough) but other than that why wait? Even if Heather and I waited three years to start having kids we still would not be in a better financial situation than when we started.

I love being a dad of four kids who are four and a half years apart. I love how close they are and how much they love playing with each other. I love how they grow up with each other and learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. I love how I get to have four vastly different prayers each night before they go to bed. I love how we take up a whole pew at church and I love the reaction when people see our four blonde-haired blue-eyed kids walk in a line like a bunch of ducks.

I love it. I am not saying I am better than people who are not married or who only have one or two kids (I do think I am but I am biased so that does not mean it is true) only that I am in a position to do what I can with who God has placed in my life. I have heard it said that God only places the difficult situations to people who can bear it and while that is not always the case, I think it is true for Heather and I as we are an excellent team and we can handle it.

So next time you are amazed at the fact that I have four kids just know that I am amazed that people wouldn’t want these four kids. I am amazed that people would wait for something as magnificent as being a father. I am amazed that people would wait for something as spectacular as marriage.  Why wait? We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

God thank you for my wife and for my four beautiful children. 


Dear Spouses and Families,

It is with an emotional heart that I write this post for now I am speaking not only to the families of youth ministers abroad but I am also speaking to my own.  I want to start off by saying a big “thank you” for your sacrifice.  I know there are times when you must be at wit’s end because we have not been at home to help with the dishes, laundry and giving the kids their bath.  I know there are times in the summer when all you get is a kiss on the cheek each morning and you don’t see our face for another week.  I know there are times when we bring our emotional baggage from the ministry home (and we swore we wouldn’t do that) and our first target is our wives and our children.  I know our fuses are short and the demands placed on us by so many different individuals keeps us on edge.  I know that this is not what you signed up for when you agreed to marry us.  I also know, children, that you did not have a choice in any of this either.  I also know that there are times when it appears we invest more physically, emotionally and spiritually into the lives of teenagers instead of the lives of our own families.

For all of this and more that is sure to come we ask that you, our wives, husbands and children please, in the name of Lord, forgive us.  We apologize for doing that which we know we should not do and not doing that which we know we should do (Romans 7 of course).  I could make excuses (it even looks like it above) and give you a sob story at how tough youth ministry is but there are no excuses for not doing what is right.  We have three things to offer you for our unacceptable behavior: 1) Confession – We admit we have sinned; 2) Request for forgiveness and 3) a request for your help to alter our mindset to avoid future mistakes.

If I were to say something by way of a request that would be, first of all,  to help us.  Please become our partners in ministry and help alleviate some of the demands by working alongside of us.  No you do not get paid for this but perhaps I can talk to the elders and work that out and we can work together for the long haul.  That also means our children will have to grow up serving in the ministry in some capacity but I believe this is partly what the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 asks us to do.  So please become our partners in this ministry.     

Secondly, I ask that you communicate with us if we are doing too much and the family is starting to suffer.  Of course, we should be slowing down anyways and listening to our families but some of us are addicted to ministry (more on that in the next post) and it has become an idol so we need you to, like a minor prophet, confront us of our calamity and pronounce judgment on us.  If ministry is tearing apart our family then we need you to communicate that to us and if you cannot be a “minister’s wife” then we will do something else.  God has brought us this far and I can guarantee you he will not fail us if we do the right thing.  Please just communicate to us.

Deo gratias

This post is dedicated to my wife Heather Mackenzie who is absolutely amazing in every sense of the word.  Let me tell you about her.  She birthed four beautiful kids in five years.  In that time she watches four other kids every day to supplement our income.  She brings our kids to all of the MAJOR activities in the youth group.  She volunteers occasionally for my son’s school.

She teaches class at Sunday School.  She cleans the house, does the laundry and all of this while putting up with me for a husband.  The fact of all of this is that she doesthis without complaining.  A lot of people whine about how hard their lives are and how busy they are and how they do not have time to even relax yet Heather does all of this without complaining.  Some people who say they “married-up” are just trying to be nice but when I say I married-up you have no idea how true that statement is.  You will not find a person who exemplifies Proverbs 31:29 better than Heather.

Aphesis 6 (Letting go)

February 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

My primary concern with this blog is that we must forgive people for what they have done to us or against us.  Jesus said this:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15).

That does not seem like an option but more like a commandment.  Forgiveness between humans is a messy business and I do not pretend to say that it is something that is easy to do.  Say a wife cheats on her husband and the husband finds out and is notably devastated.  The wife wants (yea begs) her husband’s forgiveness but he does not know what to do.  On one hand the Bible commands that he forgives her but on the other hand there is the reality of pain that the husband is enduring.  If he “lets her off the hook” then somehow it seems like she got a way too easily.  She must bear the consequence of what she did…there must be payment for his anger and her sin because there is a void there.

Maybe on a larger scale the atrocities that happened as a result of Apartheid in South Africa.  The racial inequality there mirrored (perhaps exceeded) the racial divides in the southern United States in the 20th century.  Violence spread and governments were rearranged but instead of full-scale violence the civil unrest was worked through in a non-violent and peaceful way.  Desmond Tutu, a bishop for the Anglican Church in South Africa during Apartheid was involved in the peace discussions and reconciliation talks between races.  His solution for the problem was “frogiveness”:

“Without forgiveness there can be no future for a relationship between individuals or within and between nations.”  (From “Truth and reconciliation”, BBC Focus on Africa magazine, January-March 2000, p53.)

So what does this mean for us?  It means that when we are wronged immediately we are drawn (because of the sinful state of man) towards anger and resentment.  We want to hold on to this anger because often it is the only fuel we have that keeps us going.  Anger soon becomes idolatrous as it is the only thing we can think about and soon the anger makes a move towards vengeance.  We want justice…we want them to pay for what they did.  Desmond Tutu again relates:

“There are different kinds of justice. Retributive justice is largely Western. The African understanding is far more restorative – not so much to punish as to redress or restore a balance that has been knocked askew.” (From “Recovering from Apartheid”, in The New Yorker, 18 November 1996)

That is what forgiveness is all about…restoration…a promise of tomorrow…and a brand new beginning.  Often when I am struggling with forgiving someone I look in the mirror and ask: “What if you had not received forgiveness for all of the atrocities you have done?”  I am reminded of how redemptive forgiveness can be when Jesus was ridiucled on the cross enduring the pain and agony at the hands of the Jews, the Romans and one of his disciples.  Jesus could have called legions of angels to utterly obliterate every foe that was before him.  Jesus, with his right hand, could have ended it all with just one word.  But instead….our Lord said this:

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:32-34).

What do you need to let go?  Why are you holding onto this?  Just let it go.  Move on.  Forgive them.  Don’t let them still consume you by allowing this anger to burn in your hearts.  Let it go.  Be free.


My wife and I rented a movie that was surprisingly good.  Like most women she wanted to rent a “chic-flic” so I agreed and I looked and it said The Bounty Hunter.  I thought to myself, “Isn’t that a show on A & E?”  Heather thought she made a mistake but we decided to watch it anyways and I was glad we did.  The plot is about a bounty hunter (played by Gerard Butler, star of 300) named Milo Boyd who is recently divorced from his wife (played by Jennifer Aniston) named Nicole Hurley who is in trouble for not appearing at a court date.  Milo is given the task of chasing down his ex-wife to bring her back for bail and arraignment.  The movie is filled with twists and turns as Hurley is working on a case for her story in the newspaper and has stumbled across a lead on a possible murder case.

While running and spending time with each other Milo and Nicole fall in love with each other all over again while confronting painful realities of their separation.  Themes from Scripture are abundant:

  • Good versus evil
  • Right versus wrong
  • Justice
  • Persistence
  • Marriage Covenant

This is a good movie for couples to watch to strengthen their commitment to each other and to witness the powerful intoxication love offers.

Disclaimer:  In each movie there are things I cannot endorse like language, alcohol use, etc.  Please use a discerning heart when watching this movie.


Father in heaven there is a lot going on in my life that needs cleansing and healing.  First of all, allow me to accept those things which are new and embrace them with open arms.  It is difficult to think about what lies ahead but I understand that there is no guarantee for any of us.  Health is a blessing and I am always one heart attack, stroke or accident away from meeting you and so I am blessed to be where I am at right now.  Protect my kids and give me the knowledge to train them in loving you not by word only but in a relationship that interacts with you.  Father please be with the college students and help them to grow closer to you but allow them to do so in a way that is genuine.  Many of them are meeting potential spouses or are looking for potential spouses and I ask that you give them the knowledge to choose wisely.  Father the youth group needs your help as Satan is excellent at what he does.  There is too much temptation out there and I am afraid much of our youth are succumbing to this so please help them with the power of your Son.  Father help Main Street to have new life in 2011 and allow us to grow spiritually but even numerically.  We do not need to settle for second best as too much is at stake for us to simply be content and ride off in the sunset.  Father help us in this year to be ready for the deaths, the injuries, the accidents, the sins, the mistakes, the broken relationships and the foolish decisions we inevitably will make.  Also, Father, through your Spirit, allow us/me to accept the new possibilities and fully embrace them regardless of the consequences.  Deliver us O Lord, according to your ceaseless love.  Amen.


This is the post I did not want to write.  This is the post that will probably make you upset and want to click the little “X” icon at the top of your browser to close the blog and never return.  I don’t want you to do that but I understand why you would do that.  When an addict is confronted about their addiction their first response is anger and denial.  “I have everything under control” or, “I can quit any time I want to” are typical assertions by those who are, ironically, not in control and not able to quit.  So when you get mad at me I understand and your reaction is typical so I will not take offense to it.  I estimate that 50% of Main Street (congregation where I minister) uses Facebook (most of them are 25 and under) and roughly 25% of those are addicted to it.  There is no hard data that I make my observations from other than noticing the time spent on Facebook and the amount of activity based on their profile.  Before we begin with identifying if you are addicted and offering some help I want to first define what an addiction is:

An addiction is “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma” (Source).

Please pay attention to the definition itself…key words are “enslaved, habit, practice, cessation and trauma.”  Let me define it in a way that a teenager would understand it: “anything that you can’t stop thinking about doing.  If you were to stop doing this activity then you would have severe withdrawals.”  There is no hard-fast way to prove that you are addicted (click here and click here for two articles about “signs that you are addicted”).  Below are some things that I want you to consider and then I will offer some suggestions for help.

  1. How much time are you on Facebook per week?  (click on survey below to see results)  No compare that with how much time you spend reading Scripture, praying, serving the community and worshiping.  Remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6:24 where he stated that no man (and woman) can serve two masters?  That applies to anything and everything that evacuates your time and energy to the neglect and dismay of God Almighty!
  2. When you are on Facebook what are you doing?  I know people who spend 4-5 hours a week on Facebook but they are writing messages of encouragement and checking on people who have fallen away.  I would say that those 4-5 hours are spent wisely.  Most of us who spend 6+ hours on Facebook are doing one of the following: Facebook stalking, checking pictures, chating, checking updates, responding to comments or looking for friends.  Is that the best way to spend your time?
  3. How often do you check Facebook?  You can set your mobile device to receive updates from comments, statuses and messages.  Many of you have mobile Facebook where you can check from your cell phone.  How often do you do that?  When you wake up in the morning?  Right as you get out of school? During a down period at work?  Right before you go to bed?  Maybe you wake up at night and  can’t sleep so you check Facebook?
  4. If you were told not to check Facebook would that bother you?  Pay attention to how you answer the question because it is crucial to understanding if you are addicted.  You might say “Of course not,” then go without a day or so but in the back of your mind if you are wondering what is happening at Facebook then you are addicted.

By now you know if you struggle or not but I want to offer some advice…

  1. Write down how much time you use on Facebook.  Write down when, where and how you check Facebook.  This is crucial because it will show you how much time you spend so you can jump to…
  2. Admit that you have a problem.  Facebook is not wrong but when it takes away from family, homework, spiritual formation and work then it becomes an issue.
  3. Give yourself a set time to look at Facebook and be realistic.  “I will spend 8-10pm on Facebook” is a bit ridiculous.  Start by saying I will only spend 30 minutes from 4:00-4:30pm looking at Facebook and that is only to encourage people.  Gossip is easy on Facebook so try to avoid it.
  4. When you have withdrawal symptoms meditate on a favorite verse.  I recommend Proverbs 3:5-6.  When you think about Facebook just divert your thoughts to “trust in the Lord with all of your heart…”
  5. If you are really bold deactivate your Facebook account.  This will let you keep all of your data where as deleting your account will permanently destroy all of your pictures and what not.
  6. Block Facebook on your computer.  Of course you can unblock it but blocking it will let you know how serious you are.
  7. If you MUST use Facebook remember to use it in a way that gives God the glory.

I know this was a long post but I wanted to be honest with a problem I see among many teens, young adults and even older adults.  Tomorrow we delve into using Facebook appropriately by not being that guy or that girl.  Take the survey below.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, MAKING THE BEST USE OF THE TIME, (why Paul?) because the days are evil.  (Eph. 5:15-16).

Song of Songs #4

August 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

Sorry for the break and we now return to the Song for yet another powerful lesson.  This one is especially for you single people out there.    

Beloved

1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Lover

2 Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.

Beloved

3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest my lover among the young men.  I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.  4 He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. 5 Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.  6 His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. 7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you the gazelles and by the does of the field:  Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

There is much to “digest” (notice the pun ;)) in these verses that speak both to human sexuality and to moral purity.  First of all, Song 2:1 actually appears in two hymns, #1 in “The Lily of the Valley,”  (or, “I have found a friend in Jesus”) and also in the hymn “Jesus, Rose of Sharon.”  I am not sure as to why the authors of each song attributed Jesus to the lily of the valley or the rose of Sharon but my gut tells me it is an allegorical interpretation of the song as speaking not about a marriage but about Jesus and the church.  This is just not the case and is more fanciful than fact.[1] 

In verse 4 the imagery there is, more than likely, the bed where the love-making occurs.  It may allude to a specific place but since the beloved’s love was better than wine (1:2) it seems to point to the same sort of metaphor.  The scene is one that is romantic as she is “faint with love” (2:5).  The ESV translates this phrase, “for I am sick with love.”  Tremper Longman III says:

“Presumably, the woman continues speaking and exclaims that the intensity of her love makes her physically weak.  She is exhausted…Love has made her faint…She is overwhelmed emotionally and physically by her love for the man.  It is a strong statement of the power of love and may also contain a cautionary note to the effect that love is wonderful but not something to play around with.”[2] 

 Have you ever felt so strong about a person that it made you physically sick?  Have you ever been so in love with a person that all you could think about, all you could dream about was that person and the thought of that person made emotionally drained you?  May we all be this sick in love with someone. 

But…

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (2:7).  That’s a warning!  We need not be sick in love and that love be quenched in an unacceptable manner.  Love has its appropriate time in the scheme of God’s appropriate plan. 

“Love is such a powerful emotion and carries such enormous power that it must not be misused…The full appreciation of the joys of physical love can happen only when love comes at the appropriate time with the partner that love chooses.  For the Christian, here are the beginnings of a powerful message of physical love as God’s gift according to his will and timing.  It is not a decision reached by the daughters of Jerusalem (any more than by the sons) but one that must be received when and in the manner God has decided.”[3]    

In other words…acting out sexually is something that any sexually capable person can do.  Many people are out getting a sexual fix for their sexual appetite .  This impulse is a strong emotion that is hard to overcome.  Many people give in to sexual temptation because their boyfriend or girlfriend whispers in their ears how much they love them and that they would not do this with anyone else so it must be ok.  Yet, they are saying that because they want to gratify their sexual desires and so it sounds good but it is not.  It is carnal and is weak.  But…to quench love when it arouses in the proper scheme is not something everyone does but is something God’s people can experience.  This is worth waiting for.  I venture into dangerous territory here for there are plenty of people who lost their virginity, are still Christians, are single and wonder what to do now.  I recognize that you have made a mistake but fully embrace the idea of you having a brand new start.  I heard of one Christian woman tell her Christian boyfriend who upon confessing to her that he was not a virgin and that he felt like she needed to know before they could move on in the relationship she looked at him and said, “You can still be a virgin for me!”  It takes a godly woman to say that and be able to accept someone like that. 

Good lessons in these verses…What are your thoughts?      


[1].  Hippolytus, Origen, Ambrose, Gregory of Nyssa and Bernard of Clairvoux all claimed an allegorical interpretation for this Song.  For a reasonable introduction to this and other interpretations of the Song read Hess, Song of Songs, 22-29.   

[2].  Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001): 114.   

[3].  Hess, Song of Songs, 83.

Song of Songs #3

July 29, 2010 — Leave a comment

We are getting close to closing the first section but I forgot to even include an outline so here is the best one I have seen:

  • Title (1:1)
  • Prologue:  First Coming Together and Intimacy (1:2-2:7)
  • Lovers Joined and Separated (2:8-3:5)
  • Love and Marriage at the Heart of the Song (3:6-5:1)
  • Search and Reunion (5:2-6:3)
  • Desire for the Female and Love in the Country (6:4-8:4)
  • Epilogue: The Power of Love (8:5-14)[1]

Beloved

12 While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. 13 My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts. 14 My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.

Lover

15 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

Beloved

16 How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.

Lover

17 The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs.

Again the woman is obsessed with the smells of expensive fragrances like perfume (spikenard), myrrh and henna.  Richard Hess notes that the perfumes start with the most expensive (spikenard which was only made in the Himalyan regions of India) to myrhh (available in South Arabia) to henna (available in Palestine).  The point is that these were available to royalty since they were so expensive.  

“My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts” no doubt is as explicit a reference of intimacy as the biblical reader is going to see. 

“Here…the sensual nature of the perfume between her breasts becomes an entrée into a word picture of the male lover spending the night with the female.  The picture of lying between her breasts evokes a scene of sexual pleasure.”[2]

I wonder what reaction you get when you read the above quote.  If you are a junior-higher then you probably looked it up and started laughing as if what you were looking at was naughty.  If you are mature enough then what you read is nothing more than a beautiful, honest expression of love-making that is perfectly fine in a marriage context.  If you are a single man or woman this probably elevates some emotional response at which I say is good.  Anticipation for the moment is not a bad thing and perhaps this is why the Song is in Scripture.  As a single person you should be excited at the prospect of one day uniting with your spouse in bed and that being a most glorious, wonderful, breath-taking, astonishing, ______________ (insert appropriate adjective here) moment.     

Verses 15-16 is a picturesque portrayal of conversation between two people who are enraptured by each other’s presence.  The man, in verse 17, utilizes imagery and metaphor to point to the bed and it seems that the couple use God’s creation to point to the sexual act as something creational which is altogether good in its proper context. 

Lessons?  For couples we need to think about how romance is good and that there is something celebratory in the act of lovemaking between married individuals.  It is more than the physical act but there is something else at work—something spiritual in it that begs us to proclaim, “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!”  For youth and singles there is the lesson that anticipation and the realities of physical desire are genuine as we were created in part to be sexual beings.  It’s ok to want to have sex in the future with someone you are in covenant with but is not spiritual when you do this on impulse—it’s carnal and mundane.  We will touch more on this in a few days. 

What have you learned?[3] 


[1].  Hess, Song of Songs, 5.  Tremper Longman III in his commentary Song of Songs divides the book into 23 different poems which is helpful but does not point to the thematic nature of the poem.   

[2].  Ibid., 69.   

[3].  Again, I am not covering everything in the text which is difficult to do in a blog.  I am merely introducing material and making my own lessons on it.  Also I am not making a lesson out of every point because some application made from the Song is simply not valid in the text.  For example, some people allegorize the two breasts in verse 13 as the Old and New Testament and see the myrrh in between the breasts as Christ in between the two testaments (see Hess 70).  That is just not in the text and misses the romantic intent of the poem.  If you have found a point in the text that went unnoticed or lesson that I have missed then do me a favor-put your arm over your head backwards and give yourself a pat on the back.

Song of Songs #2

July 28, 2010 — 1 Comment

Continuing our voyage through the Song we come across the man’s response to the woman in 1:8-11 which is (when analyzed) some of the most beautiful bits of poetry known to mankind. 

8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherds.

Lover

9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh. 10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, neck with strings of jewels.  11 We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver.

If you look at verse 8 and compare it with verse 7 he is answering her ever concern…consider the graph below:[1] 

Woman (1:7)

Man (1:8)

“Tell me, you whom I love…” “If you do not know, most beautiful of women
“Where do you graze your flock?Where do you rest your sheep at midday?” “follow the tracks of the sheep.”
Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?” “Graze your young goats by the tents of the shepherd.” 

 

Something else we see in the male’s response is that he speaks only of her physical appearance where as the female speaks of all of the senses (taste, touch, smell, etc.).  But something is going on here that we do not initially recognize.  This woman is worried about her self-image (1:5-6) and what the male does (almost in knightly fashion) is speak to her that she is the most beautiful thing people can see with their eyes.  She is better than the choicest mare (which was an expensive animal and considered to be a sign of royalty) and then he goes on to complement her face and cheeks which would be the only thing visible to the maidens and others.  Why is he doing this? 

Because he wants to let her know and perhaps the maidens who think he is the most amazing specimen that there is nobody better than her when it comes to physical beauty and he wants to tell the world that!    

Something beautiful is at work here that we need to recognize: 

“What is portrayed in the first dialogue of the Song is not a stereotyping of the female as fully open to all the senses and the male as focused on objectifying the physical form of his lover.  Instead, the male’s concern addresses the one element that threatens to mar the female’s otherwise perfect praise of their love.  He uses it as a means to restore her confidence by reinforcing his love for her in the one area that she has displayed insecurity.”[2]

In other words, he is there for her and knows what she struggles with and seeks to be a good man and console her with kind, albeit honest comments.  He is not trying to patronize her with kind words to simply make her feel better.  He is honest and loves her!!! 

Men and women, are we defending the honor of our spouses by letting the world know how beautiful and exquisite they are?  Do you let your spouse know how beautiful he or she is on a consistent basis?  Do me a favor—check that—do your marriage a favor and send some roses (don’t go cheap ;)) or if you are a woman send them a romantic text or something to let them know how much you appreciate them. 

Teens, does the person you date complement you and is willing to defend you if someone should hurt you?  Or do they embarrass you in front of the other guys or girls or maybe they put you down in front of people?  That’s not love—that’s chaos. This is a good lesson on your significant other saying something that is not flattering but honest appreciation for something as beautiful as YOU!

See you tomorrow…


[1].  Hess, Song of Songs, 61-62.   

[2].  Ibid., 67.