Not only has our culture distorted God’s view of marriage, but it has also distorted the purpose of sex. Sex has become a way to elicit attention, to get what you want, or nothing more than a physical experience. Fashion magazines, T.V. shows, and movies are not only to blame for this trend, but also the accessibility of pornography.
Gone are the days where one had to purchase a magazine or VHS tape to access porn. Nowadays it’s as easy as opening a web browser on your phone. As a result, the average age of those who are being influenced by porn is growing younger and younger with every passing year, which has had a major effect on how we think about sex. With everything we have access to and are bombarded with every day you can see how easy it is for the world to distort the purpose of sex.
While the world has distorted the purpose of sex, the Bible, and specifically the Song of Solomon teaches us that sex serves a greater purpose. Sex is a way to increase intimacy that already exists in marriage, which means that without sex a marriage will grow stagnant and cold. Sex, then, is important to the vitality of the marriage relationship.
While it’s true that sex is an important part of marriage, it’s just as important that a relationship exists before and after one has sex, which is what I want you to see from the Song of Solomon. A careful reading of the text reveals that their marriage relationship wasn’t consummated until the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5. Everything before those chapters consist of their courtship and wedding.
During their courtship, we learn some key ideas when it comes to building and even maintaining an intimate relationship with our spouse.
In verses 5 and 6 of chapter 1, the bride confesses her insecurity and the groom immediately begins working at assuring her instead of tearing her down.
“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” (1:5–6)
While it’s a sign of beauty to be tan today, in that day it wasn’t. It meant that you were a part of the working class and not the nobility. We learn, then, that her social status was of particular concern. This was exacerbated because she was being courted by the king. But instead of keeping her concern to herself, she shared it.
Hearing her concern, notice what the groom says starting in verse 9,
“I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels.” (1:9–10)
Comparing your woman to a mare might not win you many points today, but it did back then. His comment about Pharaoh’s mare meant that she was exceedingly beautiful. You see, Pharaoh only had the best, most beautiful and sought-after mare’s pulling his chariot. If comparing her to one of Pharoah’s mares didn’t assure her, he also compared her beauty to that of a string of jewels worn around one’s neck.
Their exchange teaches us several things:
(1) We must be vulnerable, sharing that which makes us self-conscious.
(2) We must build up and assure rather than tear our spouse down.
Doing these two things are crucial if we want to further or maintain an intimate marriage relationship. We need to know that we can share things that bother us with each other, and upon sharing, the other person will not reject or hold us in contempt. Instead, they will help us work through them.
(3) We must be attracted to more than their physical appearance.
In verse 15 we read,
“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.” (So 1:15)
Obviously, he thinks that she is physically beautiful. But her beauty goes beyond her physical appearance. His comment that her eyes are doves tells us something about her character — it’s pure and tranquil. He, then, is attracted not only to her physical beauty but her inner beauty as well. While physical attraction is important, there must be other things that draw us together in marriage because believe it or not beauty will fade.
(4) There must be a certain level of protection — physical, emotional, and economic.
(5) Our love for one another must be shown through various acts.
Look at verses 3-4 of chapter 2 and 7-8 of chapter 3.
“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (2:3–4)
“Behold, it is the litter of Solomon! Around it are sixty mighty men, some of the mighty men of Israel, all of them wearing swords and expert in war, each with his sword at his thigh, against terror by night.” (3:7–8)
The idea that she is sitting in his shadow and the mentioning of the army tells us that he is providing protection. The banner at the banqueting house represents his public love and affection for her. We also learn that if we want to grow and maintain a relationship with our spouse these two must be present – protection and affection.
(6) We must spend time alone
Look at the second half of verse 13 and verse 14 in chapter 2,
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (So 2:13-14)
Basically, in the most poetic way possible, he is asking her on a date, to spend time with him alone away from everyone and everything else. This is something that has to occur not only in the courting stage but after we are married as well.
Most of us didn’t have a problem going on dates when we first met our spouse. We were excited, we wanted to get to know the other person, so we carved out time to be alone with them. But for many, once they tied the knot all that changed. They became comfortable. They quit going on dates and spending time with one another. But that is something you can’t do. You have to continue to date one another until death does you part.
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. It is certainly something I’m working on. But while I might not be perfect at it, I do know that if I want to maintain my relationship with my wife and increase intimacy, I must spend time alone with her.
(7) We have to work on our problems
Look at verse 15 of chapter 2. She says to him,
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”” (So 2:15)
Foxes have a tendency to be destructive, so her reference to these animals probably suggest that there were some problems in their relationship she felt needed work. She was asking him to take the initiative to begin working toward solving those problems. You see, we can’t just push our problems aside, ignore them, and hope everything is going to change because it’s not going to happen. Problems have to be addressed in order for things to change and for the relationship to move forward or continue.
These are seven things you can apply today to either begin or maintain your marriage relationship. What these seven things tell us, then, is that a certain level of intimacy must exist in a relationship before one gets married. And that level of intimacy must continue throughout our marriage if we want our sex lives to be fulfilling. Emotional intimacy and physical intimacy go hand and hand, with one deepening the other.