Whispers in the morning
Of lovers sleeping tight
Are rolling like thunder now
As I look in your eyes…
We’re heading for something
Somewhere I’ve never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I’m ready to learn
Of the power of love…
Steamy, huh? If you are a female who lived through and remember anything of the 90’s (or if you just enjoy love-power ballads), then you know where these lyrics are from. Celine Dion immortalized the “power of love” in her hit song describing the glorious and dynamic force that is romantic and sexual love. And girls, she is right. Love is powerful!
Why is it that we as women, as a culture, as a human race, long so much for this love? For centuries, songs, stories, and now movies have immortalized romantic love and its power. Why is it such an obsession?! The answer is simple: love, both romantic and sexual, was made to be powerful, and we were fundamentally made to long for it.
In fact, the very essence of the power of romantic and sensual love can be found in the pages of the Bible. Dion’s lyrics sound as if they could actually be an excerpt belonging to a certain book of the Bible. No, they’re not found in the stories of Samson and Delilah or David and Bathsheba. They are found in another book in which they are not in the context of a sinful affair, but rather a pure relationship of marriage. Now Dion probably did not mean these words to be taken in that context per se, but her verbal picture sounds much like the tender words spoken between the two lovers in Song of Solomon. Passionate, sensual, desirous . . . biblical? Yes, ma’am! So the beauty of sensual and romantic love is actually not an “ungodly” thing? No, sir! In fact, God thinks so highly of this love that He immortalized it in His holy word. Amazing, huh?!
Let us delve into the pages of this passionate book of the Bible and hear some of the words and vows exchanged between the two lovers.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the LORD.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it. ~ Song of Solomon 8:6-7
Wow, those are some powerful descriptions. In this one passage we can see many characteristics of love, but the first is evident in its opening words – “set me as a seal.” In that culture and time, the seal communicated exclusivity. The “signet ring” would create a seal and was a public commitment to comply with a treaty or promise. It was important for indicating ownership or maintaining security. “This is a sign of covenant commitment to marriage and is analogous to the wearing of phylacteries as tokens and reminders of Israel’s covenant fidelity to Yahweh (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21).” The lovers are dedicating themselves to total exclusivity with one another. If that visual image is not enough, there are several times throughout the Song of Solomon (2:16, 6:3, 7:10) in which the bride makes statements of exclusivity such as “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
The beauty of love is first described by the necessity of exclusivity.
Is exclusivity a characteristic of love that our culture deems necessary for sensual love? Do we even need to ask that question? Even when our culture holds up exclusivity as something to strive for, it is viewed more as a fairy tale than a reality. Besides, where culture is concerned, who wants to only sleep with one person in their lifetime anyway? What a sad commentary on the world’s view of sexual love. As people of the church, do we also hold up this standard of exclusivity to its fullest capacity? Sure, we say we will only marry once and will keep the marriage bed pure…yet divorce and pornography are rampant.
We say that we will be true to the one person we marry once there is a ring on our finger – but we do not guard the exclusivity of intimacy for our future spouse before we are married.
These are things that we as the church – the light in the darkness – need to strive for as we see this essential part of romantic love displayed.
The next few verses go on to illustrate through weighty metaphors the intensity of love. It’s described as being “as strong as death.” Its jealousy is “fierce as the grave.” It is likened unto the fire of God, as well as being completely “un-drownable” (if that is a word)… love is a powerful force! The most amazing thing about these metaphors is that they parallel the strongest relationship in the whole universe: that of God and His people. God is fiercely jealous for His people – an “all consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). God’s love for humanity is as strong as death… even to the point of death on the cross.
Throughout God’s Word, the intimate love of marriage is presented as a picture of God and His people.
Now that’s powerful – no wonder love is so intoxicating!
God knows the power of love between a man and woman – He created it. Because of this, He gave humanity a “fireplace,” if you will, to contain this passionate flame in the marital relationship. Intimate love has the amazing ability to strengthen and unify two people in the confines of an exclusive covenant (a.k.a marriage), but outside of that covenant it has the power to destroy!
The intensity of romantic and sensual love is not merely physical, but has a spiritual and emotional component as well that is often overlooked. As we saw above, the beauty of romantic love is meant to be a picture of God and His people… so what happens when we tamper with that? Instead of unity and security, there is brokenness and insecurity. We are reminded how sexual and romantic love makes one vulnerable (3:1-5, 5:6-8). This can lead to greater security when you know that someone will love you and be forever committed to you in your vulnerability, or, if in your vulnerability you are rejected and cast off, it can lead to insecurity. 1 Corinthians 6:18 states “All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” Sinning against the body affects us spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
- Spiritual ~ As a Christian when we sin sexually, we sin against the very temple of God, our body, which is no longer ours but His!
- Physical ~ Sexual sins will more often than not incur the punishment of sexual diseases.
- Emotional ~ When you have sex with someone, you are made “one flesh” with him and there is a connection that is beyond the physical and fundamentally connects to the heart and soul.
To borrow a metaphor from Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, love is like electricity; when used correctly it has the glorious power to light up a whole city, but when used incorrectly, it has the power to kill. You would not let your child play around with a light socket, would you? No, that is absurd; they could be seriously hurt or even killed! Then why are we so quick to think such a powerful force as sexual love could not do the same both spiritually and physically?
Sex and romantic love is a gift from the Lord, and it is time we started treating it with the respect it deserves. As single women, we cannot be flippant with or afraid of romantic and sexual love, but rather we should understand its power, therefore adhering to its purpose and timing in God’s great plan for us.
Blessings in Truth, sweet sisters!
Erin Griffith is pursuing a Mastor of Arts in Christian Education with a concentration in Women’s Ministry. She loves people, fellowship, food, and singing… really any and every form of worship. Erin is passionate about teaching women and girls that God desires to have an intimate relationship with them, and how to walk in that relationship, since she herself is learning that more and more each day. Connect with Erin on Facebook!
Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs The New American Commentary v. 14. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993, 426.