On this Valentine’s Day, I would like to recite some lines from an ancient love poem to the love of my life, my wife:
“How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine” (Song of Songs 7:6-9).
There are at least two brands of Christians when it comes to the topics of sex, romance and love.
The first brand is embarrassed by the words of King Solomon above. They prefer to never talk of such things. They are horrified that I, a pastor, am actually quoting these lines to my own wife, and on a public forum no less!
These people need to be reminded that these obviously romantic (dare I say sexual) lines are in our Bibles. These are God’s words coming through Solomon’s pen to his lover, his “sister-bride.” Sex, love and romance do not embarrass God. He designed them all. God’s design is for these wonderful gifts to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage (a husband and his wife).
God flatly commands and exhorts husbands and wives as His people to imbibe deeply in sexual intimacy, romance and love with one another – all to His glory! Don’t take my word for it, go read Proverbs 5:15-21 and 1 Cor 7:1-5. The lovers of the Song of Songs are told:
“Eat, friends, drink and be drunk with love.”
The second brand of believers has an over-sexualized, over-romanticized view of love. While God does expect a man to revel in his wife’s love and affection, the Scriptures are careful to never define “love” apart from the grace of God in Christ.
So, though sex in marriage is inherently good, and to be enjoyed, it is not the be-all-end-all. If it were, a woman whose husband has been paralyzed in an accident or military service would have no reason at all to remain faithful until death.
We must not take our cues for what intimacy and love between a man and woman look like from Hollywood and all their porn-infested friends. If we take our cues from nightly TV, in no way will we ever come to see the beauty and Christ-exalting nature of a man and woman staying faithful until death. Instead, we’ll see that love is whatever each individual determines it to be.
How many Christian women have majorly warped expectations (and thus despair) because they watch Soap Operas every day and read silly romance novels? There is now even a “Harlequin Romance Porn” industry, produced by women for women. Oprah promotes it. God hates it.
How many men have hurt their wives (intentionally or not) because in their bedrooms they are acting out all the pornographic images burnt into their poisoned minds?
Friends, I realize I’m being blunt. But we must think on these things as followers of Christ, and beg for grace to redeem our marriages for God’s glory. Think on the implications of 1 John 4:7-11 for our marriages. Seriously, read it and think on it. I urge you not to define love in any way except to ground it in God’s amazing grace demonstrated by Jesus’ death on the cross for unworthy, unlovable sinners like us (Rom 5:8).
What our marriages need is not more romance, nor more sex, nor even more “love” as we typically define it. No, what our marriages need is gospel love. What I need is the actual love of Christ being shed abroad in my heart, then overflowing into the heart and life of my wife. Then my wife’s faults will pale. My energy will be spent mortifying the lust of my flesh by the Spirit and the Word. Then I’ll find myself back at Jesus’ pierced feet, receiving mercy and grace in time of need. Then I’ll love Jesus more than my wife. Then my wife will be the recipient of true love, true romance, to the glory of God!
What if Jesus loved us the way we are loving our spouses right now?