Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 31

What I Read Today: Song of Solomon

What Stood Out About What I Read Today: Song of Solomon 8: 6-7, “The Beloved to Her Lover: Set me like a cylinder seal over your heart, like a signet on your arm. For love is as strong as death, passion is as unrelenting as Sheol. Its flames burst forth,
it is a blazing flame. Surging waters cannot quench love; floodwaters cannot overflow it. If someone were to offer all his possessions to buy love, the offer would be utterly despised.”

Random Thoughts About What I Read:

I am the father of daughters. This is a role I relish.

So far, I’ve enjoyed every stage of parenting daughters. I loved the late nights alone with a bottle, a baby and ESPN SportsCenter. I loved the toddler stuff, with Legos and snuggles. I loved the princess phase and board games. I loved the elementary days of discovery. I loved the middle school stuff where personalities and such were beginning to become more defined. I enjoyed the high school stuff where you watch them become who they’re supposed to be and getting ready to see them launch. To be sure, there were times when I didn’t understand 20% of what went on in my own home, but even those were few and far-between and temporary.

I am also the father of girls who are exquisitely beautiful. Like Edgar Allen Poe said, there can be no exquisite beauty without some strangeness to the proportion…and this defines them pretty well. They’re smart, bitingly witty, and, oh, yeah: They’re pretty.

This means boys. And yes, we’ve all heard about the dads that sharpen knives while the dates show up…or clean their shotguns.

But see, I pretty much have understood that, at some point, the odds are that they’re going to fall in love. They’re going to have some boy become absolutely smitten with them. And they’re going to become absolutely smitten with a boy. I’m pretty confident that, at some point, I’ll walk them down an aisle and hand them to a young man who has no idea of how happy he’s going to be with them. I have no reason to believe I won’t enjoy that stage of parenting, too. So, I tend to take it easy on the boys who show up. Besides, thus far, the kind of guys who’ve shown up haven’t been the kind of guys that need a knife-sharpening to keep them on the straight and narrow.

(As an aside, I’m under no illusions any and all underlying realities and motives that these boys all have. I remember MY motives when in pursuit of another man’s daughter. What I’m saying is that my girls are likely a much tougher strainer with regard to who they give their emotions, kisses and tears to…but I do have a shotgun, just FYI, if needed)

My girls have also been raised in evangelical Bible church circles.

And there’s a LOT of focus on being a Proverbs 31 kind of woman. She works hard, man. She makes her husband look good in the city gates, man. She helps the poor and the needy, man. She runs a business, man. She teaches her children and others, man. She doesn’t worry about beauty and charm as much as she does her walk with God, man. And don’t get me wrong. These are great things…but it’s only 21 verses. Somehow this is the standard of Godly womanhood.

And then we read Song of Solomon. 8 chapters of stuff in which there is no possible way to deny the erotic nature of the work. Sure, we miss a lot of the cultural things that would’ve turned on a 10th Century B.C. woman (hair like a goat?), but unless you do some sort of American Puritanical dance to get to this being an allegory of God’s love for his people, well, you can’t deny the heat in the relationship.

And this was brought to my attention during a True Love Waits class I was teaching. A female student asked me why I didn’t use any of the text from Song. Good question, right? Here I was hammering away on all the verses that talked about what NOT to do and all that and ignoring a vital part of the big picture. We’re supposed to be preparing these young people for a lifetime of healthy sexuality and simply focused on the negative and obvious.

It’s a fascinating question, really. How in the world to you highlight what Scripture says about modesty while at the same time teaching young ladies to appreciate their curves? How are you supposed to teach a girl that these undeniable parts of the Song of Songs are some of the best realities about being a woman while evangelicals are writing books that tell them that kissing is verboten until the wedding night? And does the reality that, in most of the times/cultures the Bible was written in, women were likely married around 16–give or take a year or two–somehow change in our American now given that some women wait much longer to get their career going before they get married?

Thankfully, there are a lot of books being written by evangelical women for evangelical women on this very topic. I’ll leave them to their work. That’s not my point today.

My point today is that there should be a balance in our teaching somewhere between the Proverbs 31 woman and the Shulamite woman…and not just to our teenagers. Even if I’m not sure exactly where that balance is or how it plays out…I’m pretty sure I want my daughters to be the best of both of those passages.

Their marriages will be better for it.
They’ll better embrace who they are and who they’re created to be.
Their relationship to God will be enhanced.

But that’s personal.

It also works corporately, too.

Our marriages will be better, in contrast to a world that needs to see great marriages.
Our children will get an accurate and balanced view (re: healthy) of sexuality & marriage.
Our churches will be healthier because they’ll know God better, even if they’re a bit more uncomfortable.

I’m open for suggestions on how to practically apply this one, today, patrons!

(Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 1-5)