Love, Sex, and Romance (Single Men Edition)
That was the subject matter assigned for me to teach on at Morse Street Baptist Church’s Men’s Conference in August.
As I prepared for my session leading up to the conference, I initially struggled with what biblical book(s) and passage(s) to teach on that dealt with these three topics. And then I thought, “What better choice than that of the book of Song of Solomon.” Although some of the Early Church Fathers (e.g., Origen) – and some more modern theologians – interpreted the Song of Solomon allegorically (i.e., finding spiritual and hidden meanings in the text: God/Christ as the Lover/Bridegroom and Israel/Church as the Woman/Bride) or typologically (i.e., acknowledges the historical reality of Solomon and His Bride, but sees them as typifying Christ and the Church respectively), it is best to see it for what it is: a celebration of human romantic love between a man and a woman in courtship, and physical and sexual intimacy between the same in marriage.
When I am afforded the opportunity to preach or teach God’s Word, I always desire to be faithful to the biblical text as best as I can with God’s help. But I also want my teaching of God’s Word to be helpful and applicable where possible. I knew there would be at least two groups of men in my session that day: single men and married men. And so I labored to think about how to address both in my teaching of Song of Solomon. Thankfully, I found the book to be typically outlined into three major sections: 1. The Courtship (1:2-3:5), 2. The Wedding (3:6-5:1), and 3. The Marriage (5:2-8:4). This made my job a little bit easier because now I knew that my session would be broken up into two parts. The first half would be directed primarily to single men, drawing truths or pointers from “The Courtship” section, and the second half – although still relevant to single men – would hone in on the married guys, calling their attention to the last section of the outline. And so that’s how it flowed that day.
Coming away from that conference, I knew that I wanted to share on my blog what I taught that day, specifically as it relates to single Christian men. I figured if it was helpful to those in attendance, it would prove to be the same for those who might read my blog. What follows is not an in-depth academic theological treatise on the subject, but rather three down-to-earth, rubber-meets-the-road pastoral exhortations to single men who are dating or looking to date.
1. Have your own stuff (1:7)
“Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon…” (vs. 7)
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard stories of single guys (and married guys too) mooching off of their women. This should not characterize you as men of God. God desires that you be a responsible, hard-working man; not a lazy man-boy who simply lounges around your girl’s apartment or house, playing video games while eating up her food, driving up her electricity bill, and riding around in her car – basically using up her things. And even if she is okay with all of that, you shouldn’t take advantage of it. There is nothing honorable about being a leech.
2. Exhibit respectable romance (1:10, 15)
“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels…Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.” (vs. 10, 15)
There is so much misogyny (hatred/disrespect of women) and exploitation of women in our world today: date rape, pornography, abuse, sex slave trade, watching “twerking” videos on YouTube, Vine, or Worldstar Hip Hop, etc. And much of it is perpetrated by men. We should treat women differently…honorably…respectfully, especially when you are in a dating relationship.
So here are a couple things to think about and ways to apply this point:
- Keep your comments focused on the neck up.
It’s okay to admire and verbally affirm your woman’s physical beauty, but notice in verses 10 and 15, in their courtship, Solomon doesn’t go below her shoulders.
I know when you see her, your heart palpitates and your eyes are captivated by her beauty, but please remember this: Your passion for her needs to have parameters. You need to keep a reign on your eyes and your words. If you don’t, know that they will easily and quickly influence you to jump – in your thoughts, words, and/or actions – God’s fence of sexual purity.
- Embrace exclusivity (2:2)
“As a lily among brambles [thorns], so is my love among the young women.”
You need to see your woman as standing head and shoulders above the rest. To you, she should be in a league all by herself…because she is! There literally is no one else in the world like her. If you are in a dating relationship, then you need to be exclusively about her and no one else. With that, let me press a few more things here: 1. Don’t string her along, knowing full well that you have no intentions on marrying her; 2. Don’t cheat on her. If you are still “playing the field,” don’t invite her into the game of your life, where you know that she will more than likely lose in the end, walking off the court of your life with her heart broken. Her heart is nothing to play with. It’s not a game. It’s her life that we are talking about. Don’t toy with that. 3. Define the relationship – are you guys just casually, exclusively, seriously (making plans to get married) dating? Make your intentions known up front. And If your feelings begin to change, tell her early, not later. Boys conceal. Men reveal.
Side note: Don’t expose yourself to porn and/or become promiscuous (and if you have or are, repent). Why? Because pornography and promiscuity weakens marital exclusivity. It erodes the desire and discipline to remain faithfully married to one woman.
3. Connect relationally with your woman (2:10b-14)
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away…let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (vs. 13b, 14)
Obviously, Solomon in these verses is admiring her beauty, but I believe that he desires to spend time with her; to relationally connect with her, which is implied in him beckoning for her to “come away” with him. You need to have regular face time with your lady without watching ESPN, Facebooking, tweeting, etc. Turn off the PS3/Xbox/PC, leave the gym early, cut the yard or wash the car at another time. Do what you need to do to connect with her face-to-face. If you are single and dating, this should be your focus as it concerns your woman. Get to know her relationally, not sexually (that is reserved for marriage only). Do you know what her relational status is with the Lord Jesus? Is she growing in her relationship with God in Christ? Do you know what she likes or dislikes? Do you know her dreams, goals, ambitions, or fears? What does she believe and value?
One of the main reasons why some people end up divorced is because in their dating they were primarily focused on physical and sexual attraction that they failed to see the person for who they really were or at least disregarded or downplayed what they saw. The sex was “good” but the soul was bad. They couldn’t see the latter (or didn’t want to see it) because it was eclipsed by the former. If you persistently, unrepentantly put the cart (sex) before the horse (relationship/marriage), you can expect an even rougher relational ride. So focus on getting to know her, rather than getting to “know” (as in Adam knew his wife, sexually speaking) her.
Bonus: And don’t fall for this lie about you needing to know before you get married whether or not you two are sexually compatible. You’re a plug and she’s an outlet. It’ll work!