Tag Archives: marriage

Did Jesus Have Hair Like a Flock of Goats and Breasts Like Twin Fawns?

The Kiss an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

No one knows what to do with this book. Why is it in the Bible? What’s Song of Songs about? Bible scholars have asked those questions since before Jesus’ time. Sex, romance, and love? Can’t be. Love, maybe, but a book in the Bible can’t be about sex and romance. Sex is base and romance frivolous. The Bible deals with life and death issues: heaven and hell, eternal salvation, sin, of which sex is usually considered one of the worst.

What is the Song of Solomon?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Song of Songs 1:1-4:16

2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Psalm 50:1-23

Proverbs 22:22-23

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Corinthians 8:16-24: Paul seems to be taking care of some every day, ordinary business here. Titus is coming to visit with two other men. Treat them well, add to their financial collection for the poor, Paul tells them.

Thus heaven bends down and kisses earth. God enters the mundane and adds to it holiness, meaning and purpose. The Bible is the most far-reaching, powerful, mysterious book in existence. It is God’s word. But the Bible is also practical, earthy, real.

Yet our expectations of the Bible often put it in an untenable place. Each time we crack its covers we expect it to transform our lives, almost magically.

Bible reading, however, may be more like eating. Sometimes the meal is extraordinary, spicy, rare, a feast we remember and tell others about. Sometimes it’s a hamburger and fries. We eat, get up from the table, clean the dishes and go about our business. Both meals nourish, replenish, however.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Origen, a Christian scholar who lived about 200 AD, believed the Song of Solomon was an allegory picturing Christ’s love for us. Like Jewish and Christian scholars before him, he largely ignored the sensual, sexual nature of the book. Unlike Hippolytus, however, he did not restrict its reading to the mature only. These godly, intelligent men could not fathom why God would canonize a provocative love poem from a Hebrew king to his dark, perfumed, busty princess. Nor could they, I imagine, if they were as easily aroused as most other males, read this book without facing their own humanity. Much more simple is it to skim the passionate parts and name the others allegory. But this says more about us than God or the Bible.

Elsewhere God communicates boundaries for our sex lives. We don’t like these restrictive sections–or often obey them–but are more comfortable reading them and tacitly accept them as coming from God. This coincides with our belief that, though we humans enjoy sex, God does not like it, except that it produces children, and probably closes his eyes while any one of us engages in it.

Therefore, this allegorical method of understanding the Song of Solomon provides a distance and safety from one of the more powerful and dangerous (there is no safe sex) drives stirring in the human heart. Reading this poem allegorically allows us to dig a divide between what we see as a very serious and sanitized God and our very earthy, sensual lives. It’s a literary version of safe sex.

The allegorical method has fallen out of favor in modern times, however. What are we moderns to do with the Song of Songs then? Ignore it. Yeah, that’s it! Oh and don’t let our teens read it and our preachers preach on it.

Or. . . .

We can face the truth that, though God recognizes and abhors our sinful mishandling of, and obsession with his beautiful gift of sex, God is not uncomfortable with our sexuality. He made us that way. God made sex fun!

This poem is not an allegory about Jesus, though Jesus’ love for us is every bit as passionate and earthy. Jesus did not have breasts like twin fawns. This poem is about the beauty of human love and passion and romance. It shows even our fallen state cannot completely tarnish God’s greatest gifts.

In our times sex, even between husband and wife, can be twisted, manipulative and ugly. This dirtiness results, in part, from how even Christians have relegated sex to a mere physical act, forgetting that it is one of the most beautiful, intimate spiritual acts a man and woman can engage in. God created sex so that a man and woman could participate in sharing their bodies and souls–and sometimes take part in the creation of a unique, complicated, wonderful new life that also contains the image of God.

God canonized the Song of Songs in order to paint for us a word picture of romance, love, and sex that soars beyond the physical and takes us into the realm of the soul. Seen that way, Solomon’s Song may not be a picture of Jesus on the cross, but it does deal with life and death issues.      

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. How does the Song of Songs’ picture of sex differ from Hollywood’s?
  3. What passage spoke most to you?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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Jerry’s Secret

The new TV show, Marriage Ref, is on the surface a light-hearted look at marriage. If you haven’t seen it, the show videotapes married couples having fights and then a celebrity panel makes jokes about the couples and their disagreements. Then they make their recommendations to the marriage “ref” who emcees the show. Finally, the “ref” makes the final recommendation or judgment concerning the couple. I am all for comedic approaches to marriage—and they make me feel better about my marriage and myself.

This show gives me a sense of superiority by convincing me to say to myself, Boy! Am I glad my marriage is a whole lot better than those marriages!

However, I also realize this show communicates messages that run counter to my journey as a Christian. Jerry Seinfeld, the producer of the show, just celebrated ten years of marriage, an eternity by Hollywood’s standards. He believes he has a “sense of mission” to share with America the secret to marriage: “Your marriage is fine— we’re all [fighting].”

Please join me today as we evaluate Jerry’s secret.

Mark Benish is today’s guest blogger. He’s graduating this May with a Master’s in Counseling from Denver Seminary. Thanks Mark, for your contribution to today’s blog.

TODAY’S READING

Numbers 36:1 – Deuteronomy 1:46

Luke 5:29 – 6:11

Psalm 66:1-20

Proverbs 11: 24-26

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Deuteronomy 1. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites are about to enter into the Promised Land. Moses, who will not be joining them, is giving the people their final instructions before entering.

Moses begins by reminding the people of the covenant that God entered into with them through Abraham. He proved his faithfulness in doing what he promised to Abraham and Moses. They’ll still face difficulties, but knowing that God is faithful and ever-present with them should give them strength.

The final leg of their journey is more than 100 miles over an almost waterless and dusty plateau. The prospect of the Promised Land, with its abundance of milk and honey, must have seemed very distant. Yet the people persevered and obediently followed God’s direction.

Luke 5:29-6:11. The word for “complained” in Luke 5:30 shares the same meaning as the word for “grumbling” in Deuteronomy 1:27. Rather than offering a minor complaint, the Pharisees were grumbling against God. Their issue concerned table fellowship, which was a sign of mutual acceptance. The Pharisees definitely thought of themselves as better than tax collectors who were the lowest of the low on the social ladder.

Fasting, discussed in 5:33-39, was a serious expression of worship and was practiced during numerous Jewish festivals. Every Monday and Thursday, the Pharisees resolutely practiced this spiritual discipline. When Jesus compared a fast with an impending wedding (see verses 34-35),  the religious leaders understood that he was referring to God’s relationship with his people. Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, “I am God.”

Through his subsequent parables, he proclaimed a new way for the spiritual life. New cloth on old will tear away from the old as soon as it is washed. Simply putting a patch on the old ways won’t work.

In the same way, Jesus’ listeners would have understood immediately what happens when you pour new wine into old wineskins—the new wine will ferment and split the skin. Similarly, trying to force this new way into the old way of doing things will not work.

In verse 39, he says, “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ” Jesus is probably saying that he knows there are some, the ones who have practiced the old ways, who will not accept him and who will continue in their old ways.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Moses gives much better advice than Jerry Seinfeld about where to turn when facing problems—in marriage or in life. We need to look at our history and remember everything that God has already done in our lives. Moses reminds us to remain obedient to God, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable issues, even when the Promised Land, the blessings, seem far away and unattainable. God will bless you if you remain faithful and follow his lead.

Moses modeled this to us. Because he kept his focus on God’s power and faithfulness, he kept his problems in perspective. The people repeatedly focused on what seemed impossible and turned to go their way, which brought them impoverishment. When they returned to God, they experienced his blessings.

Similarly, Jesus shows us God’s way, which differs greatly from the world’s way. All of us should be different from people who follow their own way. Jesus said that he came for those who recognize their need and who are willing to repent of the old ways of life. His way is not the way of rules and doing it your way. His way is the way of love—loving God and loving others as yourself. Come, repent of your ways and learn his way.

Not everyone in marriage is fighting as Seinfeld claims. He is showing how to do it your own way. Our readings, today, call us to turn, not to others who are doing it wrong, but to Jesus, the one who can show us the way of love, the way of loving God and others.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. How are the complaints of the Pharisees and teachers of the law similar or different from the people in Deuteronomy? From us today?
  2. How has God helped you in the past?
  3. What principles for wise living do these passages give us?
  4. The next time you are facing problems or conflicts, should you handle the situation differently? If so, how?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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