I just finished preaching on Song of Solomon. I’m preaching through the books of the Bible, and forgot that I’d have to preach on this love song that is both graphic and sexual. It is a beautiful rendition of a woman and a man falling in love and in lust, and chasing after each other. It is pure and simple and romantic. When I first read it in the Common English Bible, the words made me blush. I wondered how in the world I could use this in a sermon.
Mostly I just didn’t want to preach it at all. I wanted to tell everyone to go home and read it for themselves, and then just leave it there. It would have been my shortest sermon ever.
But then I got an email from a member who was really glad I was addressing sexuality as there are teenaged children around her home; and I had another in depth conversation with a pastor about the boundaries around our sexuality. And I pulled my head out of my shyness, and remembered the world we live in: a world of hyped-up sexuality. So, if the world had so much to say about this topic, perhaps the church should chime in. Perhaps we have something to say. Perhaps that’s why Song of Songs was left in the Scripture with all it’s visuals.
Wesley had three rules for living: 1) Do no harm; 2) Do all the good you can; and 3) Stay in love with God. If we layer his three rules over the topic of sexuality, it can guide us for this day that we live in. Our sexuality is sacred, beautiful, and as much a part of us as breathing. But it is also a place where we are tender, vulnerable, and easily wounded. Because of that we need to protect this sacred gift.
Our society is filled with pornography, marital infidelity, and teen sexual activity. And these things hurt us. They hurt those who are near to us. The church is not immune to these problems. Today we need some decent and clear boundaries of what we will and won’t allow in our intimate lives. Nothing that hurts others; nothing that prevents good; nothing that takes away from loving God.
In the end of this book, the woman says, Set a seal upon my heart; upon my arm. This is a phrase of promise and commitment. The seal was literally around the arm…as a reminder of being true. It was like saying, “I am yours and you are mine.” Our wedding rings remind us of the same thing…we are each other’s for the good…for the love. Our love for each other is sealed. And our love for God is also sealed.
I didn’t want to preach on this topic. But I’m glad I did. I hope other pastors do the same. God’s view of healthy sexuality needs to be out there in the world… It may be hard to talk about, but people are wanting to hear.
Enjoy reading Song of Songs. I hope you blush.