Song of Solomon used to have restrictions on it – Orthodox Jews long practiced the tradition that men under 30 ought not to read it. But why, oh reader of the Bible? What could these pages possibly contain that a young man of 25 could not – ?
Oh, because it’s basically erotica. Bible porn.
Well, not exactly. By our modern standards of sexuality, both Christian and secular, this is relatively tame stuff. I remember being a young child and giggling at the passages about “valleys” and “slopes” and “breasts.” I won’t delve to deep into out of a fear of uncovering some long hidden complexes. Anyway.
In all seriousness, the Song of Solomon poetically presents two lovers enjoying the bounty of their marriage. They adore one another’s bodies and spirits under the holy tent of God. Everything here is sanctified. So let’s pick out some descriptions to see what a proper sexual relationship looks like.
LOVE IS ABOVE ALL OTHER PLEASURES
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2 (NIV)
We hear often through Song of Solomon comparisons of love to other earthly pleasures – most specifically alcohol and tasty foods. This is rather obvious to those of us who have felt love before, but God clearly intends it to feel that way. That desire is ingrained, and yes, it is different from want.
BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL!
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7 (NIV)
There are many references to the individual body parts that our narrators adore – faces, hands, teeth, breasts – and it seems like that affection is a-ok. Teenage boys, you’re supposed to think breasts are the best. Congratulations.
ONCE IS NEVER ENOUGH
I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?
Song of Solomon 5:3 (NIV)
Our heroine laments a night after leaving her beloved (why is she leaving his house… never mind, I won’t go there). After passion, she obviously feels a bit sullen, wanting more fruit of her desire. This must be one of the cornerstones of true love – that deep ache for more – the insatiability of it.
BIBLICAL MARRIAGE IS NOT BIBLICAL LOVE
Sixty queens there may be,
and eighty concubines,
and virgins beyond number;
but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,
Song of Solomon 6:8 (NIV)
I am delving into a bit of politics with this, but… Solomon had 700 wives. This narrator has 60, and then 80 prostitutes on top of that, but… only one beloved. So these other 80 wives of his… they are not beloved. So when we talk about “Christian marriage,” let’s just remember what we’re talking about here.
BONUS: LOST IN TRANSLATION
Well, this verse got my attention:
My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
Song of Solomon 5:4 (KJV)
Wait, what? Surely there cannot be…
I’m just going to leave that one alone and snicker. I know it doesn’t mean… But I’m going to giggle all the way home.