For our sermon series on marriage, I’m blogging my way through the Bible’s erogenous zone: The Song of Songs.
Today, I’m still reflecting on 2.1-17.
As I mentioned earlier, in chapter 2, verse 3 of the Song, the young woman sings:
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
And in case it’s not obvious to you, she’s talking about a vine of a different sort. This portion of the poem continues with imagery of mountains and gardens and, uh, “fruit-tasting.”
In my prior take on Song of Songs 2 I noted how the young woman who narrates her passion in the Song contradicts our prejudices of the Old Testament taking a mechanistic view of sex generally and a misogynistic view of women specifically. In the Song of Songs, we find quite the opposite.
The primary narrator is as bold and forthright in what she desires as any Cosmo article and the fact that her aggressive passion is not chastened but canonized tells us that her desire is good.
For my second take on Song of Songs 2 I notice not the woman’s 8 1/2 Weeks worthy word pictures but the fact that those word pictures have mountains and gardens in their background.
That is, I can’t help but notice not the novelty of WHO is speaking but Where she is speaking it.
To put it bluntly:
She’s describing her beloved and herself making love in the outdoors, with mountains behind them, naked, in the light of day, in a springtime garden.
St Paul chooses the image of Jesus as the Second Adam to describe an alternative and antidote to the Fall in the Garden of Eden.
I think I like our narrator’s version in the Song of Songs better.
Certainly the allusions to Eden are one of the reasons the ancient rabbis included what would otherwise be a Madonna song in the holy scriptures.
And if it was one of their reasons, then this is more than this unabashed passion with the lights on is more than a passing allusion.
We can reason from the Song of Songs that shame is not intrinsic to sex nor was it intended by God to be such.
Irony is almost always tragic and no less is the case here, for shame is often the very thing Christians attach to sex.
Unashamed, unafraid lovemaking in the light of day is as homey an image of New Creation as any I can think of.
Just as irony is always tragic, from inferences always follow corollaries. If unashamed sex, outside, in the day, with the lights on best describes what Sin undid in Eden, then ‘Sin’ is anything we do to make sex ‘dirty.’
By ‘dirty’ I turn to Robert Jenson:
‘Sadomasochism, bondage and the like are not harmless deviations; they are attacks on humanity…the blessing of marriage brings sex within the gate of the coming new and transformed Eden, so restores its innocence.’
Neo-Calvinist pastor, Mark Driscoll, infamously declared the Song of Songs to be his favorite book of scripture, an attention-getting claim if you’re speaking primarily to bible nerds. Driscoll even preached a long sermon series through the Song of Songs. That I’ve gotten this far in the Song without referencing that bile is a testament to my character.
Nevertheless…in one particular sermon Driscoll takes the graphic imagery of the Song of Songs, an erotic poem, a POEM, and uses it as a biblical mandate for wives to perform ____________
for on their husbands regardless of their own reciprocal desire.
He’s taking the Song of Songs and putting it back in the Old Eden.
Where it doesn’t belong.