X-Rated: Adults Only!

A little disclaimer before you read this post: This was not originally a blog post. I was commissioned by Circle Six Magazine, an online magazine aimed at Christian men ages 18-35, to write an article about Song of Solomon for Valentine’s Day. With their readership in mind, I let it all hang out with no self-censoring for this article. This might make you blush. It kind of makes me blush to have it on my blog. The article was published in 2006 and I’m just now posting a link to it in 2010. (I still can’t bring myself to share the link on Facebook.) But here’s the thing: I think this may be one of the best articles I’ve ever written.

After the article was published someone wrote in the forums that this article changed her life. She said that she and her husband had been doing everything that the article suggests, but she always felt a little guilty about it, like enjoying sex was wrong. Reading this, she said, gave her new freedom in her marriage. I loved that! So here it is… if you have trouble making eye contact with me after reading this, I’ll try to understand.

You have tried the candles, the wine, the Barry White, maybe even some toys… so what else is there? How about the Song of Solomon? You may not believe it, but hidden in the middle of the Bible is a book all about sex and love, and Solomon holds nothing back. The Song of Solomon is an X-rated, adults-only celebration of love and sex, as erotic as anything you are going to find in a porno shop. In fact, some Jewish rabbis recommend that no one under the age of thirty be allowed to read the book.

Song of Solomon paints a beautiful picture of romance, sex, and intimacy in the context of marriage, but for thousands of years interpreters have been trying to find some way to get around it. Surely God would not talk about things like that in the Bible! So they find all kinds of hidden meanings about God’s relationship with Israel or Jesus’ relationship with the Church – anything to avoid sex in the Bible. The fact is Song of Solomon is a celebration of love and sex enjoyed freely by a married couple the way God intended. This book is thick with eroticism and offers plenty of tips for married couples on how to keep each other happy between the sheets. There’s a lot of good stuff in these eight chapters, but I am going to cut to the chase and just talk about the dirty parts. Feel free to take notes.

First, let’s introduce the characters in the story. We have Solomon, the king of all Israel, and his new bride, a simple girl from the country who is only identified as “the Shulammite.” Already this sounds like the perfect setup for either a hit romantic comedy or a dirty porn. It is their wedding day, and this girl is already getting hot and bothered thinking about what is coming later that night. As we look at this book, there are some wonderful and steamy tips every couple can take away and put into practice.

Tip #1: Ladies, never be afraid to initiate sex in your marriage. Trust me; your husband will appreciate it!

1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.

3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;

your name is like perfume poured out.

No wonder the maidens love you!

4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!

Let the king bring me into his chambers.

As the wedding approaches, the Shulammite is not worried about whether or not the caterer has been paid or what the flowers look like for the ceremony. She just wants to get this show on the road and get down to the business of lovemaking. She is imagining him kissing her, thinking about how he smells, and she longs to enter his chambers with him. This is a girl who has her priorities straight. She is not ashamed of her sex drive and is willing to initiate things when she feels the urge.

Tip #2: Try new things! Do not be afraid to experiment.

2:3 Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
is my lover among the young men.

I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.

Here she is giving him a little sneak peak of what she wants to do after they have walked across the threshold. She wants him to be standing while she sits in his shade and tastes his “fruit.” Now what exactly could she mean by fruit? Apples? Pears? Nuts? Most guys would run down the aisle if their bride-to-be starting making these kinds of offers. She is not afraid to experiment with her husband and tell him what she wants. All men should be so lucky.

Tip #3: Men, take your time and enjoy building anticipation. Do not rush through foreplay.

The wedding takes place in Chapter 3, and in Chapter 4, the marriage is consummated. For the first seven verses, Solomon looks at his new bride wearing nothing but a veil over her eyes, and talks seductively to her. (Note to men: When your wife is naked in front of you, choose your words carefully!) His eyes slowly inch down her body, as he describes her hair, her eyes, her lips, and her cheeks flushed with anticipation and desire.

4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.

Why does seeing his wife topless make Solomon think of two furry little woodland creatures? I think there is something subtle going on here. When you see furry little baby animals, what is your first instinct? You pet them! Solomon is a breast man, and he cannot wait to get his hands on her. Instead of rushing right in though, he takes his time and uses his words to get her ready. Foreplay is important to a woman. He speaks of their sultry adventures, which only seem to end with the setting of the sun.

Tip #4: Enjoy every part of your partner. All five senses are important in the bedroom.

4:12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates

with choice fruits,

with henna and nard,

14 nard and saffron,

calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,

with myrrh and aloes

and all the finest spices.

15 You are a garden fountain,

a well of flowing water

streaming down from Lebanon.

The woman has saved her virginity for her husband and until this point has been a “locked garden” and a “sealed fountain.” Now that garden is wide open, and Solomon is enjoying all its fruits. Pomegranates, henna flowers, nard, saffron, calamus, cinnamon, incense, myrrh, and aloes were the finest fruits and spices available in the Middle East, and all had erotic implications. He’s talking about smells and tastes coming from her body, which he now calls a “well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.” There is no place for inhibitions in the bedroom. Explore, touch, taste, feel, smell, and experience your partner in every way you can. After all this sensory indulgence, she is hot, horny, and ready, and she invites him to keep going. She gives herself freely to him.

Tip #5: Men, when your wife is in the mood for love, be willing to change your schedule around for her.

5:2 I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My lover is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,

my dove, my flawless one.

My head is drenched with dew,

my hair with the dampness of the night.”

3 I have taken off my robe—

must I put it on again?

I have washed my feet—

must I soil them again?

4 My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening;

my heart began to pound for him.

5 I arose to open for my lover,

and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,

on the handles of the lock.

6 I opened for my lover,

but my lover had left; he was gone.

Every couple has a bad night now and then; Solomon and the Shulammite were no exception. The beginning of the chapter says Solomon arrived home late, and his beloved was naked in bed awaiting his arrival. She had already perfumed her body with myrrh, a sure sign she had planned on making love, yet now the mood is ruined. She becomes angry with her beloved for not calling (forgetting, of course, that phones would not be invented for a few thousand more years) and refuses to unlock the door for him.

Solomon tries to smooth talk her into showing him a little affection, calling her “my darling,” “my dove,” and “my flawless one.” This time, though, his words fall on deaf ears, and he makes one final attempt reaching for his beloved through an opening in the door. Seeing how much he wants to be with her moves her heart, and she decides to open up for him. She goes to open the door, but it is too late. Solomon is gone. Solomon’s story aside, if you keep your wife waiting until one in the morning while you play X-Box, do not assume your wife is going to be so thrilled over your Halo victory that she will want to celebrate with you. Be considerate of her feelings. When she is in the mood, go spend time with her, or you may find her back to you, being in no mood for passion.

Tip #6: Ladies, every man appreciates a good striptease.

In Chapter 7, Solomon’s new bride gives him a private performance by dancing naked for him. This is one of the most explicit passages in the entire book. Solomon watches her intently, observing each part of her body, from her feet to the top of her head, leaving nothing out. The word Solomon uses for one of her body parts is so graphic the English translators get a little scared and translate it as “navel.” Solomon compares this body part to a bowl of wine: round, red, and wet. He says it is full of wine, sweet to the taste and intoxicating. Whoever said the Bible had to be boring? After her dance, he can no longer remain an observer.

Tip #7: When the time is right, let her know how you feel and make your move.

7:7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.

8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;

I will take hold of its fruit.”

May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine,

the fragrance of your breath like apples,

9a and your mouth like the best wine.

Solomon makes his intentions clear – he wants to take hold of his bride, touch her breasts, taste them, and kiss her, taking in every part of her. The environment is perfect for a night of satisfying lovemaking.

Tip #8: Be spontaneous!

7:11 Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.

12 Let us go early to the vineyards

to see if the vines have budded,

if their blossoms have opened,

and if the pomegranates are in bloom—

there I will give you my love.

13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,

and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,

that I have stored up for you, my lover.

In the final sexual scene of the book, the Shulammite asks Solomon to take her away for the weekend. She wants to take a vacation to keep things fresh. Budding vines, opening blossoms, pomegranates, and mandrakes were all considered to be aphrodisiacs. Here, among all these outdoor delicacies, she promises, “There I will give you my love.” Not just in the country, but outside under the open sky, they will find a place for just the two of them where they can give themselves to each other. Outdoor sex… have I mentioned that Solomon was a lucky guy?

Did you take good notes? If not, pick up your Bible and read it again. You might even try reading some of it out loud to your wife. The Song of Solomon is what marriage and sex are all about: love, commitment, pleasure, enjoyment, and mutual satisfaction. God, in all his wisdom, gave us a guide book for a happy sex life, so make sure to not overlook it. Now stop reading and put your Bible study into action. You can have this same kind of passion in your own marriage. Go light the candles, pour some wine, turn up the music, and enjoy the fruits of your own private garden.

Originally published at Circle Six Magazine.

Longetivity

Dan Haseltine, lead vocalist for Jars of Clay, has written a great article for this month’s issue of Relevant Magazine about the harmful ideas our culture has about relationships and marriage. He looks to the marriage of his grandparents as an example of selfless love and love and lifelong commitment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the article online, but it’s got so much good stuff to say, that I’m going to type up most of it. After celebrating his grandparents’ sixtieth anniversary, Haseltine wonders why so many people from older generations stayed the course while younger couples give up, why people have discounted the idea that marriage can last.

“Iti is a cloudy morning in Baltimore. I just hopped on a plane headed for a family reunion of sorts. The point to acknowledge is that my grandparents have lived for 80 years, and even more significant, they have labored in marriage for 60 of those years.I am headed to a celebration. I find that as years pass and as we continue to celebrate the great accomplishment of years and the profound mercy and grace surrounding the life of my grandparents, the celebrations become a bit more sobering. They become less of a cheer and more of a sigh of relief. I am so thankful that they have lived this long, and I cannot believe that they still find ways of loving each other well. It is affirmation of something that seems to be constantly eroded and discredited —the idea that marriage can last, and that there truly is enough grace to cover the wounds, even the deep ones.”

“There are many reasons why people do not stay together anymore. I have watched relationships crumble, and I have been in orbit around couples that never realized they didn’t know each other and didn’t even have the desire to dig in. They slowly constructed parallel lives with huge embankments and heavily decorated medians. And then the roads split off with no apparent convergence in sight. And it all happened without much drama. If you asked them, they would say that they just had different goals and that they were fine with the separation.”

“I think some of our cultural ideas can be poison for relationships. We seem to operate on two basic ideas: what we deserve, and who we can blame for not getting it.”

“There seem to be more “Christian” marriages that dissolve slowly or end quickly, and I am amazed that even counselors, who are provoked in their vocation by the Gospel, tell couples that the situation they are in is just too corrupt to be reconciled. I have often wondered what this truly means in light of the Gospel. I look at those who have stood the test of time, and after wading through so many back-handed comments and justifications that dismiss the accomplishment—statements like, “Well, they are just from another generation, a generation of people who stayed together”—I am aware that we just don’t see the Gospel account of marriage as valid anymore.”

“Look at the marriage of Jesus, the one He has been in for eternity, the one with the bride who sleeps around, never listens, disowns, scorns, dishonors, runs away, intentionally proves to be more interested in anything but her husband, is selfish and bears the children of every affair and the scent of every escapade. It was a marriage that killed Jesus. And it was the Gospel that brought Him back to life to love once more. Jesus endures the worst marriage of all. His bride nails Him to a cross, and there are no metaphors to compare His suffering to what we think we endure.”

“We will continue to search for ways to be appreciated in our marriages, for ways to be cherished, and if we do not find them, then we leave. Because we are not getting what we want, or feel like we need, our spouse is to blame. We are people who like to move from relationship to relationship, church to church, in search of what fills us, rather than what allows us to fill others. But what we think we deserve by way of our cultural cues is quite different from what we do deserve.What we deserve is to be lonely, what we deserve is to be isolated from the one who loves us better than anyone else. What we deserve is to never be pushed forward, to never deepen in our wisdom and experience of love and community. What we deserve is to die a dark and disconnected fate. And if we are going to apply the rules of culture today, the only one to blame for not getting what we deserve is Jesus.”

“I watched my grandparents hold hands and walk together. They are most definitely from a different generation. They have seen the invention of computers, cell phones, MTV, chemical warfare, strip malls, Nazi Germany, cable TV, rock ’n’ roll, the civil rights movement, the rise of heroes and the fall of heroes. And they held hands through it all. They fought to keep a family, bent on falling apart and dissolving, together. They were honored by those of us who stood around them smiling, while in our minds taking stock of our own marriages. We wondered if we would have the tools to last that long. And for a brief moment, we were able to escape the cultural winds of blame and entitlement, we had cake and we ate it too. Now on another plane heading away from the experience, I know it to still be true. And it is good to have these times of clarity.”

“For people like my grandparents, who have lived long enough to feel the effect of carrying the accumulative weight of scars, life was about the fight. But what they remember most is the way burdens were lifted by laughter and how the fight was always interrupted by the joy of victory, and those moments, however fleeting, carried a sweet fragrance. They have lived in the trenches and on the mountaintops, and their story of life and marriage is worth describing. It is worth recounting. Theirs is a legacy that illuminates grace, mercy, pain and redemption. I hope more people from our generation will find this view of marriage to be worth the fight.”