Archives For Sexuality


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)
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Like any tool, Facebook should be used in an appropriate manner.  There are correct ways to use certain tools and, obviously, there are incorrect ways to use them.  Of course, from a Christian worldview, the purpose of Facebook may be completely different from someone who is not a Christian.  Since this is my blog and the lens at which I approach the world (or at least try to) is through Jesus Christ that is the way I want to approach Facebook.  I have compiled some general observations that range from Facebook annoyance to serious theological concern.  In no particular order here is my list to help you avoid being THAT girl or THAT guy.  Some of this is a bit sarcastic so please take my humor where it applies and do not be so full of yourself. 

  • The “comment-on-everything” person – There you are with your mobile device or at your laptop with WiFi commenting on this picture, on that statement, or this status.  When I look at your profile and see you have made 35 comments in one day I start to wonder if you are ever going to get out of the house and see the sun.  You know who you are…sitting there commenting on a photo 12 times so that when I get to my computer I have 65 notifications and it is ______________ commented on your photo…12 times!!!  Keep your comments to a minimum. 
  • The “hidden-message-status” person – This person tries to be all sneaky with their statuses as if what they are saying could only be decoded by special operatives in the CIA.  They make inferences, implications and try to be sneaky with their statuses like, “_________ is thinking of him” or, “___________ wonders what may come of this” and, “______________wishes that just did not happen.”  Look, if you want us to ask what happened, who you are thinking about and what may come of whatever it is that you are hiding than tell us otherwise do not make us go through FBI training to decode your weird status update.  If you want us to know then tell us!  But that leaves me to the next person…
  • The “my-life-is-going-to-end-status” person – This is one of the most annoying people out there because they pour out their raw, uncensored (I would add uneducated) emotions into a status update so that everyone can see.  Examples are “___________ is thinking that her life is ruined and there is no help in sight” and, “_____________ has been crying all night over her,” and my personal favorite, “_______________is in so much pain and does not know what to do.”  Look, I get it….you are struggling and you want some help but we do not want to see that.  Get the help you need from a counselor, a minister, a close friend but people on Facebook do not care that your life is ruined.  Most of the time your status the next day is “_____________ is on cloud-9 about him.” 
  • The “deep-quote-status” person – I am guilty of this but cut and pasting from a quote page and putting it on your status does not make you smarter.  Anyone can press CTRL+C and then CTRL+V.  I learned that in 9th grade typing class.  Be original people.  Also don’t plagiarise quotes…tell who and where it is from if you put it on there instead of  passing it off as if you are smart. 

Enough with the statuses…

  • The Farmville/Quiz Takers/Application Person – You annoy me more than anybody.  You sit there and play a weird game on Facebook that really does not matter and invite me and other people to play all the while taking up space on my news feed.  Shame on you…commmunicate with people instead of answering quizzes, building crops and other silly stuff. 
  • The “I-love-Jesus-religion-but-I-am-in-a-picture-at-a-party-with-alcohol” Person – You are the ones who say, “Jesus is my savior” yet you have pictures on your profile of you and others getting your drink on at a college party…not to mention you are underage and I can report you to the authorities if I wanted (I don’t but I could).  Look if Jesus was really your Savior you would not have pictures like that up there nor would you be touting movies like Mean Girls, Sex in the City, The Hangover and Scary Movie as some of your favorites.  Quit being hypocrite…maybe for your religion you should put: “Putting Jesus in the backseat for now,” or, “Sowing my wild oats,” or, “Apathetic at this point,” or, “Maybe later.”  I would believe that and actually think better of you.  Speaking of pictures…
  • The “revealing-but-not-really-picture” person – Facebook does not allow nudity on people’s pictures but there sure are many who are proud of their bodies.  Whether it is girls and their skimpy bathing suits showing everything but or guys taking pictures of themselves of their ripped abs in the mirror it is really annoying.  Really, why did you put that picture on your profile?  Because you are proud of your bod and want everybody to know it.  First of all, your body is not yours to begin with…it’s the Lord’s.  You are living in his temple so treat it as such.  Secondly, as a dad, I do not want people looking at my girls and as a husband I do not want people looking at my wife.  So…cover it up, hide it, tuck it in and be respectful 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this series and have learned how to use Facebook responsibly.  Love you all.


I should be in Song of Songs right now finishing my posts but in the Song the man is so enamored with the woman’s beauty even though the woman, by that culture’s standards, was not beautiful (see Song 1:6).  I was at the Titans’s game last night and there were a lot of beautiful women there yet a lot of those women were wearing tight, revealing clothing.  Not to mention the cheerleaders who put their bodies on show with the shake of a hip and a flip of the hair making most of the inebriated male population in the stadium whistle and scream.  I pondered about all of this last night and this morning and wondered what I would teach my daughters about growing up as godly women.  Society is against them and the numbers are unfortunate:

“One survey found that by age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies and by age seventeen 78 percent are dissatisfied.”  Vicky Courtney, 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, p. 18. 

I will never forget a teenage girl who was in my office who struggled with cutting and she had such a distorted/horrible self-image.  All I could do at the time was weep.  So I have compiled a list (again I hate lists but it seems they are unavoidable) that is not all-inclusive but if you are a woman these should help. 

  1. Relationships matter.  It is important that you choose someone who is godly, and compliments you and treats you like you are the most amazing person in the world.  But…
  2. Relationships are not the end-all.  Life is not about having a boy and you are not incomplete if you are not married, dating, talking or whatever it’s called when you are boyfriend/girlfriend.  Could you accept being single for the rest of your life?  If not, then you may not be ready to date someone. 
  3. Nobody has the right to be sexual with you and you do not have the right to be sexual with others…until you are married.  Don’t kid yourself when you say, “He’s the one,” and then you go sleep with him.  When he whispers in your ear, “I love you and I think we should do this,” what he means is, “I am lusting after you and I cannot control myself.”  Do you really want a man who cannot control himself sexually?  If your man does not respect your wishes then leave him.  If he really “loves” you then he will respect you.  MAKE SURE HE RESPECTS YOU!!!  Sex is great and is worth the wait.  I should have another rhyme to that but I don’t 🙂
  4. You are not the sum total of your parts. If you look at all of the magazines you will see that most of them portray women who are so skinny and curvy that you wonder if they were robots created by high-tech machines.  I love Heather so much because she is so confident in who she is and how she looks.  She does not wear a lot of make-up (maybe some eye-liner and maschera) which is just the way I like it.  I actually think her freckles (and freckles in general) are cute.  I see some teenage girls who look like their face has been touched up by a body shop detailer.  It looks so fake.  I am not against people using a little make-up to make them feel better about themselves but people who cake it on to look unnatural (as opposed to accentuating the natural) seems to me that they hiding something.  God created you uniquely and while you may not accept that right now I want you to know that you are beautiful just the way you are.  So what you do not have curves like ____________ or your hair is not as shiny as ___________ or you don’t have long legs like ________________?  Who cares?  You are beautiful just the way you are. 
  5. Be proud of who you are!  You know what is attractive more than anything?  Confidence.  A man loves a woman who is confident in who she is and whose she is.  Confidence does not mean arrogance.  Love God and do not be ashamed of it.  If you enjoy listening to Simon and Garfunkel while sitting down in a field of flowers then do it.  If you have peace while walking alongside of a river that comes down from the mountains then walk there.  Be who you are not what society thinks you should be or what some man wants you to be. 

“God saw all that he had made and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).  Don’t you know that includes you?  

This post is dedicated to the most beautiful woman in the world (Heather) who has also given me two gorgeous girls (Amelia and Madelyn).  I love you girls so much. 

        

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.

Song of Songs #1

July 27, 2010 — 2 Comments

I wrote a post a few months ago about sex (“Sex is Great!“) and the church’s need to have a theology on sex based on Scripture and a great springboard for such a discussion is the book Song of Songs in the Old Testament.  I am beginning a series of posts based on that book and eventually I will turn these posts into full class material to be taught to both youth (in the fall) and eventually adults (in the winter).  We will take this slowly and methodically.  Again, I would like to thank David Shannon, minister with the Mt. Juliet church of Christ, who opened my eyes to the need of teaching this book.     

Beloved

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. 3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.  No wonder the maidens love you!  4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!  Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Friends

We rejoice and delight in you ;  we will praise your love more than wine.

Beloved

How right they are to adore you!  5 Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. 6 Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected. 7 Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?

Something first you should notice is that the woman speaks most in the song.  This is rare in the Old Testament but not uncommon (see Ruth and Esther).  Something else you need to realize is how the woman jumps from the different senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing.  All are utilized in the song and points to the power physical beauty has on an individual.  One scholar notes:  “Touch and taste combine with the sound of the words as they roll of the tongue.  The kisses on the mouth, the lovemaking, and the wine join together to provide readers with an introductory verse that plunges them into heady waters of this poem.  Here is no gradual acclimation, a step at a time, but rather a baptism by fire!  With the assonance of the sounds, the word pictures of kissing with desire, and lovemaking that can only be compared to the intense pleasure of drinking wine, the poet leaves the reader or listener in no doubt as to the direction she is taking.”[1]

There is so much to get into grammatically that the space is unavailable here so I suggest you see Richard Hess’ commentary referenced below.   I can’t help but to notice how much the woman values her appearance.  She is upset because the sun has darkened her skin but to her beloved she says that she is lovely but to the maidens she beckons them to not make snide remarks or look at her as if she is weird.  She is dark because of her devotion to her family.  A side note here—guys we need to be concerned about what we say about our spouses, girlfriends or those we are trying to “woo.”  Girls are concerned about their self-image and we always need to continually let them know how beautiful they are and how lovely their appearance is to us.  To the woman she was lovely in the man’s eyes but to the maidens the woman seemed a little more self-defensive.    

A second thing I appreciate is how much the two of them love each other and how they long to be with each other.  Verse 7 is a bold statement in that they want to plan to be together at noon and verse 4 says, “Take me away…let us hurry!”  Married folks—when was the last time you felt this way about your spouse?  When was the last time you just wanted to be in their presence not just for love-making but for the company and for being together?  The woman is saying, essentially, that the king’s love(making?) is more intoxicating than wine!  Even the most expensive oils and perfumes and colognes hold no value to their love. 

Young people, you probably get this more than most of us adults.  You know the power of physical attraction and how a girl consumes your mind and all you can think about is her skin, her eyes, her appearance and the more you try to not think about her the more you end up thinking about her.  That is what this love is between this couple and they want to consume it at the appropriate time. 

A lot to learn in these short verses but we will stop for now and let you make some comments.  What did you see in these few verses?


[1].  Richard S. Hess, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005): 50.

Sex is Great!

March 29, 2010 — 9 Comments

I am writing a lesson series on Song of Songs and there are two books I am reading: Real Sex by Lauren Winner and Sexuality and Holy Longing by Lisa Graham McMinn.  Both of these argue that we as a Church have done an absolutely poor job at producing a healthy theology on sex.  In my experience in the churches of Christ the word “sex” is hardly ever used in a positive sense but is mostly something discussed if there are discussions about “fornication,” or “adultery.”  One time I said the word “sex” from the pulpit and a brother came up to me stating that I should not say that word from the pulpit as it is “distasteful.”  I urged him to consider the biblical passages which shed a positive light on sex as a gift from God to married couples but he would have none of it. 

This concerned me.  Let’s be honest…the Church is missing it.  There are too many “former youth group” members in our churches who live with people and have sex with each other yet are not married.  There are too many people who believe chastity is something of the past and is really not what God had in mind.  We are missing the boat.  Is it bad to say that I am a married person and I enjoy sex (I do have four kids you know)? Is it bad to say that sex is worth waiting for?  Nobody said chastity was fun, exciting and exhilirating but could it be?  The issue may be we have a messed-up view of intimacy and equate physical, erotic love with genuine intimacy.  Song of Songs is a great book written for members of God’s people to appreciate the benefits of being in love and being physically intimate with each other.  Is that bad to talk about?  If you think so then tell God you wish Song of Songs were not in the Bible.  I am not saying we share things that should be kept private but the concept of a married couple having sex with each other is a GOOD THING! 

What are your thoughts about this whole discussion?  I feel that the church should be proactiv about it to not only help teenagers wait for something that is amazing but also to help marriages right now become more exhilirating and exciting. 

I look forward to your comments.