“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw after me; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.”
Quick: Where do you think this piece of literature is from? An old Shakespearean tale of romance? A sappy love story? Does it make you squirm a little?
Fun fact: This is from the Bible. Turn to Song of Solomon, that book no one talks about or probably even reads. Above are the very first verses of that small book in the Old Testament. This story is a double entendre – on the one hand, taken more literally, it is the story of two people in love; and on the other hand, taken more metaphorically, it is a grand allusion to the love of God for His people. It’s one of my favorite books!
But there’s something I’ve noticed among some believers that makes me feel strange admitting that Song of Solomon – that erotic, “reserved-for-marriage” book – is one of my favorites. I’ve run into a couple of blog posts over the past several weeks, as well as comments from many different friends over the years, revealing that some in the Church are uncomfortable with some of the more intimate imagery that is associated with God’s love.
For instance, this is an article about awkward lyrics in worship songs. Most of those songs are some of my favorites! Some of the lyrics the article above believes are squirmish include:
“So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss” (from “How He Loves”)
“I want to touch You, I want to see Your face, I want to know You more” (from “In The Secret”)
“And what was said to the rose to make it unfold was said to me here in my chest” (from “Here Is Our King”)
(Here’s an idea: For those la la las that may make you feel awkward, try dancing. When words lack, let your body worship like David!)
Has the Church become awkward middle schoolers, pointing and chuckling at anything that indicates a more intimate kind of love? Have we forgotten that Christ is coming back, not for His friend that He can play kickball with, but for His Bride? Have we forgotten that we are that Bride? Marriage here on Earth, after all, is an allusion to the much bigger Marriage of Christ to the Church.
Here’s another article, testing your knowledge on which lines come from worship songs and which ones you can find in “50 Shades of Grey”. If you ask me, I’m pretty sure you could do the same thing comparing Song of Solomon and “50 Shades of Grey” and you would still have Christians confused. And yet, God included that 8-chapter explosion of passionate love for a reason!
Here’s the thing: Believers must rediscover the love of Christ. It’s not just an “Oh, you’re cool, I love you like a brother” kind of love. It’s an overwhelming, passionate, all-encompassing, Song of Solomon kind of love. We cannot hide from anything that smells of romance or emotion for the fear of being overexcessive. Why? Because God gives everything of Himself. Everything. He doesn’t hold back for fear of being overexcessive. And we can never exceed God. Romance here on Earth is a shadow of the Great Romance that is the story of God and His people.
John was the disciple who laid His head on Jesus’ chest. He laid His head there and rested, enjoying the presence of His Savior (without even realizing yet that He was the Savior!). If that happened in modern America today, you can imagine the conversations that would explode over that one.
David was the king who danced before the Ark of the Covenant wearing next to nothing! Today that would be scandalous. But if we grow up a little and move past what we want to point out as “awkward”, we see that it was a passionate expression of love and joy for the presence of God.
And let’s not forget Mary, the woman who washed Jesus’ very feet with perfume that cost her an entire years’ wages. Or the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her very tears, using her own hair as a cloth. He adored those outpourings of love.
God alludes many time to His “marriage” with Israel throughout the Old Testament. He doesn’t shy away from His love for His creation. He isn’t afraid of making some uncomfortable.
God is the God of passionate love, not of mediocre hand-holding. This is why the Bible is filled with passionate language and strong imagery, much like Heaven meeting Earth “like a sloppy wet kiss”. Let’s get over the middle school awkward phase already and grow into mature adults, enraptured by the love of our Savior.
“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
“Til He Appeared” by Diana Moses Botkin