What Does the Song of Solomon Teach us about Relationships and Sex? – Part 3

Another thing our culture will tell you is that sex outside of marriage is fine, if not necessary. You wouldn’t commit to buying a car before test driving it, the idea goes, so why would you commit to someone in marriage before having sex. But the biblical idea is much different.

(3) While the world tells you to try it before you buy it, the Bible tells you to wait.

That means that sex should take place within the bounds of the marriage covenant. In the Song of Solomon waiting isn’t seen as a negative, but a positive. Just before they consummate the marriage, the groom says starting in verse 9 of chapter 4,

“You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices— a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.” (So 4:9–15)

Reading this, the first thing you’ll notice is that he’s definitely using different language than we would use, but what he’s getting across is his love for her and how much he values her purity. He compares her virginity to a locked garden, a sealed fountain, after which he lists a number of unique and valuable items that are set apart from everyday use in order to communicate her value. So apart from the world’s concern, we see that the groom was satisfied with his soon to be wife, even praising her for her virginity.

He was satisfied with her and will continue to be satisfied with her because he actually built a relationship with her. It wasn’t all about the physical act of sex. That wasn’t what drove their relationship. Instead, their relationship was driven by a desire for one another that transcended sex.

Their relationship, then, not only teaches us that we should reserve sex for marriage, but it also teaches us that we must build our relationship on something other than sex.

Question for Reflection

  1. How are you working to build a relationship that’s not centered on sex?



Post developed from my sermon What does the Song of Solomon Teach us about Relationships and Sex?

What Does the Song of Solomon Teach us about Relationships and Sex? – Part 2

Not only has our culture distorted God’s view of a relationship, but it has also distorted the purpose of sex. Sex has become a way to elicit attention, to get what you want, or nothing more than a physical experience. Fashion magazines, T.V. shows, and movies are not only to blame for this trend, but also the accessibility of pornography.

Gone are the days where one had to purchase a magazine or VHS take to access porn. Nowadays it’s as easy as opening a web browser on your phone. As a result, the average age of those who are being influenced by porn is growing younger and younger with every passing year, which has had a major effect on how we think about sex. So with everything we have access to and are bombarded with every day you can see how easy it is for the world to distort the purpose of sex.

While the world has distorted the purpose of sex, the Bible, and specifically the Song of Solomon teaches us that sex serves a greater purpose.

(2) Sex is a way to increase intimacy that already exists in a relationship.

Without sex, a relationship will grow stagnant and cold. Sex, then, is important to the vitality of a relationship.

While it’s true that sex is an important part of a relationship, it’s just as important that a relationship exist before and after one has sex. That is what I want you to see from the Song of Solomon. A careful reading of the text reveals that their relationship wasn’t consummated until the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5. Everything before that is about their courtship and wedding. During their courtship, we learn some key ideas when it comes to building and even maintaining a relationship with our spouse.

In verses 5 and 6 of chapter 1, the bride confesses her insecurity and the groom immediately begins working at assuring her instead of tearing her down.

“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” (So 1:5–6)

While it’s a sign of beauty to be tan today, in that day it wasn’t. It meant that you were a part of the working class and not the nobility. So we learn then that her social status was of particular concern. This was exacerbated because she was being courted by the king. But instead of keeping her concern to herself, she shared it.

Hearing her concern, notice what the groom says starting in verse 9,

“I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.” (So 1:9–10)

Comparing your woman to a mare might not win you many points today, but it did back then. His comment about Pharaoh’s mare meant that she was exceedingly beautiful. You see, Pharaoh only had the best, most beautiful and sought-after mare’s pulling his chariot. If comparing her to one of Pharoah’s mares didn’t assure her, he also compared her beauty to that of a string of jewels worn around one’s neck. Their exchange teaches us several things:

(1) We must be vulnerable, sharing that which makes us self-conscious. 

(2) We must build up and assure rather than tear our spouse down.

These are crucial if we want to further or maintain a relationship with one another. We need to know that we can share things with each other and that the other person will help us work through them.

(3) We must be attracted to more than their physical appearance. 

In verse 15 we read,

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.” (So 1:15)

Obviously, he thinks that she is physically beautiful. But her beauty goes beyond her physical appearance. His comment that her eyes are doves tells us something about her character — it’s pure and tranquil. He, then, is attracted not only to her physical beauty but her inner beauty as well. So while physical attraction is important, there must be other things that draw us together because believe it or not beauty will fade.

(4) There must be a certain level of protection — physical, emotional, and economic. 

(5) Our love for one another must be shown through various acts.

Look at verses 3 and 4 of chapter 2 and 7 and 8 of chapter 3.

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (So 2:3–4)

“Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! Around it are sixty mighty men, some of the mighty men of Israel, all of them wearing swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against terror by night.” (So 3:7–8)

The idea that she is sitting in his shadow and the mentioning of the army tells us that he is providing protection. As well as the banner at the banqueting house represents his public love and affection for her. So we also learn that if we want to grow and maintain relationship these two must be present – protection and affection.

(6) We must spend time alone

Look at the second half of verse 13 and verse 14 in chapter 2,

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (So 2:13-14)

Basically, in the most poetic way possible, he is asking her on a date, to spend time with him alone away from everyone and everything else. This is something that has to occur not only when a relationship is just starting but all throughout our relationship.

Most of us didn’t have a problem going on dates when we first met our spouse. We were excited, we want to get to know the other person, so we carved out time to be alone with them. But for many, once they tied the knot all that changed. They became comfortable. They quit going on dates and spending time with one another. But that something you can’t do. You have to continue to date one another.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. It is certainly something I’m working on. But while I might not be perfect at it, what I do know is that if I want to maintain my relationship with my wife and increase intimacy, I must spend time alone with her.

(7) We have to work on our problems

Look at verse 15 of chapter 2. She says to him,

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”” (So 2:15)

Foxes have a tendency to be destructive, so her reference to these animals probably suggest that there were some problems in their relationship that she felt they needed to work on. She was asking him to take the initiative to begin working toward solving those problems. You see, we can’t just push our problems aside, ignoring them, hoping everything is going to change because it’s not going to happen. Problems have to be addressed in order for things to change and for the relationship to move forward or continue.

So those are 7 things you can apply today to either begin or maintain your relationship. What these 7 things tell us is that a certain level of intimacy must exist before sex occurs. And that level of intimacy must continue if we want our sex lives to be fulfilling. You see, emotional intimacy and physical intimacy go hand and hand, which tells us that one deepens the other.

Question for Reflection

  1. What would you add to this list?



Post developed from my sermon What does the Song of Solomon Teach us about Relationships and Sex?

How Can Husbands Love Their Wives Self-Sacrificially?

The Bible calls husbands to love their wives self-sacrificially. In Colossians 3:19 the apostle Paul writes,

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)

And again in Ephesians 5, comparing a husband’s love to Jesus’ love of the church, Paul says:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Eph 5:28)

We could explore other passages, but you get the point. The Bible is big on husbands loving their wives.

The Type of Love

The type of love husbands are to have for their wives is a self-sacrificial love. We know this because the Greek word behind love in these verses is agape. Agape, in Greek, denotes a self-sacrificial love. It is same love Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross for our sins, sacrificing Himself for us. Agape love then is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that sacrifices.

How do we love our wives in a self-sacrificial manner?

(1) We love our wives self-sacrificially by not being harsh with her.

In the second half of verse 19 in Colossians 3, Paul specifically commands husbands not to be “harsh” with their wives. When I first read this, I didn’t fully understand what Paul was saying, so I did some research into the word “harsh”.  I found it means that husbands aren’t to make their wives bitter or resentful because of unfair or abusive treatment. Instead, husbands are to treat their wives fairly, not using or abusing them. As well as husbands aren’t to make decisions or perform actions that would make their wives resentful.

What are some things that might make your wife resentful?

  • An unwillingness or not offering to help with the kids.
  • Not abiding by the family budget.
  • Going off with your buddies all the time instead of doing things with the family.
  • Glueing yourself to the TV instead of helping out around the house or talking with your wife.
  • Caring or ministering to others whenever they ask, but not setting aside time to do so for your wife.

(2) We love our wives self-sacrificially by leading in a non-selfish way

Being the head or the leader of your household doesn’t mean you always get your way. That’s not how Jesus leads. Since we are modeling our love and leadership after His, we should act as He acts. When Jesus came it wasn’t all about Him, instead, it was all about us. Remember, He left His heavenly abode, took the body of a man, gave up His rights, and His life for us.

We are to do the same. We are to give up our rights for our wives, sacrificing for them, instead of always demanding our own way. When we do that, we are loving and leading in a non-selfish way.

(3) We love our wives self-sacrificially by seeking to build her up in the Lord.

Husbands are to do all they can to promote their wife’s well-being and sanctification. Marriage, then, is about more than fulfilling our own sexual appetites. It is about us working to build up and sanctify our wives, washing them with the Word of God, in order to ready them to meet their heavenly husband — Christ.

(4) We love our wives self-sacrificially by providing for her physically and emotionally.

As a husband, we are to make sure we are doing all that we can to provide for our wife. Certainly that means we are to make sure her basic needs are met. But our wife’s basic needs are just one area for which we are to provide. Along with providing physically, we are also to provide emotionally. Men, including myself, often miss the mark on this one. I believe that is because it is easier for us to spend our energy working than it is to spend our energy talking, listening, and drawing our wives out. But if we want to love our wives as Christ loves the church – self-sacrificially – we must provide for both her physical and emotional needs.

Question for Reflection

  1. What other ways can a husband self-sacrificially love his wife?



Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love


What is the Type of Love that Lasts?

When most people think of love, they think of a feeling they get from another person. Think of the way a character in the last romantic comedy you watched described their love for another. Most likely they said something like, “I know it’s crazy but it just feels right.” Or maybe they expressed it by saying “I can’t explain it, but I know I am in love with them.” Or maybe, just maybe they used the often quoted line, “You complete me”. While that stuff makes for good movies, the love pictured by those characters is what we call romantic or erotic love. While romantic or erotic love is not necessarily wrong, we all want a little romance in our lives, building our relationship on romantic or erotic love doesn’t usually make for a marriage that lasts the ages.

Romantic or Erotic Loves Focus

Generally speaking, romantic or erotic love is more concerned with how we benefit from a relationship than the benefits of another. Romantic or erotic love, then, is not other-focused but self-focused. When someone expresses love from a romantic or erotic perspective, what they are really saying is either that that person makes me feel good sexually or personally, or they believe that person is the best partner to help them fulfill their financial or personal goals. But will that type of love last?

Will it Last?

Even with the advent of plastic surgery, gym memberships, and magic creams looks fade. Personal and financial goals can change or go unmet. When change happens, or needs go unmet, feelings usually follow suit and change as well. If your relationship is built strictly on feelings, what are you going to do when your feelings change? Are you going to stick it out or move on? I believe our current divorce rate answers that question for us. Over half of all marriages now end in divorce. Could it be that many of those were built on romantic or erotic love?

The Love that Lasts

The love that lasts is the love Paul speaks of in Colossians 3 when he says,

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)

The love Paul calls husbands to have for their wives isn’t romantic or erotic love, but agape love. Paul’s command doesn’t necessarily negate romantic love. In other words, a little romance isn’t a bad thing, it just shouldn’t be the primary thing. So husbands don’t use this as an excuse to quit dating or romancing your wife.

Do, however, realize that the love Paul is talking about is much deeper than surface level attraction or romantic gestures meant to conjure up certain feelings. The love mentioned in Colossians 3 is a bedrock or foundational type of love. It is agape love. Agape love is a self-sacrificial love. It is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that seeks what is best for the other person rather than what’s best for self. That is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife. It is the type love that sticks around when needs go unmet and feelings change. It is the type of love that lasts.

Question for Reflection

  1. What is the love that is primarily active in your current relationship? Is it me-centered or other-centered?



Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love

The Husband and Wife Relationship is the Building Block of the Family

The husband and wife relationship is the building block of the family. Think about it. In the garden, even though God had created all kinds of animals, there was no-one like Adam, he was alone. God, however, determined that being alone wasn’t good for Adam, so God created Eve. Eve was Adam’s wife and helper, not just his lover or financial partner. She was to help Adam fill, subdue, and have dominion over the earth.

On the backbone of their relationship, Adam and Eve started a family. But it was their relationship with each other that was first. Which means it was their relationship with each other that needed to be healthy before any other relationship could. I believe one author captures the necessity of a healthy marriage relationship well when he says,

“Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won’t matter. You will move out into the world in weakness. Marriage has that kind of power — the power to set the course of your whole life. It has that power because it was instituted by God. And because it has that unequalled power, it must have an unequalled, supreme priority.” –  The Meaning of Marriage, 131.

If there is one relationship, besides our relationship with God, that we need to get right, it is our relationship with our husband or wife. It has the power to build us up or tear us down.

Question for Reflection

  1. How is your relationship with your spouse?


Post adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love


Marriage as Confrontation and Liberation

The Meaning of MarriageMarriage does not so much as bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.

This may sound discouraging, but it is really the road to liberation. Counselors will tell you that the only flaws that can enslave you are the ones that you are blind to. If you are in denial about some feature of your character, that feature will control you. But marriage blows the lid off, turns the lights on. Now there is hope. Finally you can begin dealing with the real you. Don’t resist this power that marriage has. Give your spouse the right to talk to you about what is wrong with you, Paul talks about how Jesus “washes” and “cleanses” us of stains and blemishes. Give your spouse the right to do that.

Question for Reflection

  1. Have you given your spouse the right to tell you what is wrong with you?


Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage140.