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“Increase Intimacy”

Mar.1, 2015 Ps.139:1-5; SoS 4:1-4,9-12

(adapted from The Song movie event kit by Kyle Idleman; used with permission)


Genesis 1:31 tells us that at the wrap-up of creating everything, on the sixth day “God saw all that He had made, and it was VERY GOOD.” Part of that sixth day’s creativity, part of that “very good”-ness, was our being fashioned as people, male and female, with potential to reproduce. Gen 1:27f “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...’” [Have at it! Enjoy!]

   In Genesis 2 God fashions a woman out of Adam’s rib and brings her to the man. What is Adam’s response? V25 “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh...” We might paraphrase – “You belong with me, baby! I feel so complete when we’re together!”

   All this happened BEFORE the Fall, in chapter 3. So the Bible is very clear that sex is God’s idea, and intended to be experienced as “very good”. When challenged about divorce in Matthew 19(5f), Jesus directs the questioners back to these foundational verses, to this “one-fleshness” as God’s original intention, part of God’s “joining together”.

   But evil delights in taking some part of God’s good gift and twisting it, perverting it. This past month, February, saw both the release of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey and the release of the Ontario government’s new sex-ed curriculum for schools. We needn’t comment further on the depravity of the movie. As for the curriculum – in its defence, it does have sections that are pro-abstinence, identifying delay of intercourse and sexual activities until students are older as the most healthy option. But, operating in the moral vacuum of a secular system, the curriculum lacks the wherewithal, the moral footing, to warn against deviant sexual practices the way the Bible does.

   The educational system and teachers do not have an easy job, trying to caution students against the flood of immorality sweeping through post-Christendom culture. There are sobering statistics in the “Myth Vs.Fact” guide that was provided to school board trustees in advance of the curriculum’s release... [excerpts]

  • Many students believe oral and anal sex are safer alternatives as they cannot get pregnant, but Public Health Agency of Canada data tells us the rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea has been increasing since the late 90s and mostly affects teenagers and young adults. From 2002 to 2011, Ontario’s reported chlamydia rate has increased by 81% while the reported gonorrhea rate has increased by more than 20%.
  • a study involving students in Grades 9 and 10 shows us the high level of sexual activity taking place in that age group – 22% of the students admitted to having had sexual intercourse by that age.
  • A survey on youth internet safety found that one in four kids have been unintentionally exposed to sexual content online, with about six percent being traumatized by the experience.In another research study, 23% of students in Grades 7-11 admitted to seeking out pornography online.
  • by Grade 11, on average, at least three kids per classroom have sent a ‘sext’.
  • 27% of girls in Grades 9-11 reported to have been pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to do. 

[END OF QUOTED MATERIAL] So you can see something devilish has happened between creation and now: that “something good” (very good in fact) got twisted. The Bible goes against the cultural current in continuing to hold up the ideal for physical intimacy God had in mind originally. Today in our study of the Song of Solomon we are reminded of the beauty of God’s making us two different genders, designed to become ‘one flesh’.

[Play video clip, Increasing Intimacy (0:01–0:53)]


Song of Solomon is a love story in the form of a poem or  song, and it gives us an emotional glimpse into the romance, love, and marriage of Solomon and his wife. The poetic picture painted for us is real and beautiful. In the middle of this Song, in chapter 3, Solomon comes riding into the city in a grand royal procession, apparently arriving for his wedding ceremony. 3:6-11 “Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant? Look! It is Solomon’s carriage, escorted by sixty warriors, the noblest of Israel, all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night.King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon.Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold.Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior lovingly inlaid by the daughters of Jerusalem.Come out, you daughters of Zion, and look at King Solomon wearing the crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.”

   This wedding is obviously going to be a big deal. It will be everything fit for a king and his new queen. But, surprisingly, Song of Solomon doesn’t tell us more about the wedding.


The beginning of chapter 4 peeks in on the groom telling his bride how beautiful she looks – but this seems more than that amazing moment when he saw her in her white dress on the wedding day. Pretty quickly, we can tell this isn’t the wedding ceremony anymore: it’s the wedding night. 4:7-11 “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you...You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon.” (Think of the last time you went on a walk through an aromatic pine plantation.)

   Solomon is obviously captivated by his bride. Some of these descriptions seem strange to us, but when we understand the imagery, when you get the symbolism BEHIND the metaphor, what it represents – then we can see the beauty. When Solomon describes her eyes as “doves,” he doesn’t mean they look like doves; he means they’re graceful, they move beautifully, and they’re seductive to him. In that culture, doves were symbols of seduction.

   When he describes her teeth in v2 as a flock of sheep (probably not the first analogy that would spring to your mind!), he means they’re white (just washed, not grubby or discoloured) and uniform. When he tells her that her temples are like halves of a pomegranate, he means her face is symmetrical and that her skin’s a pretty color.

   These are poetic, beautiful, romantic descriptions of beauty and attraction. And he goes on like this for 7 verses! But then he proceeds in v8: “Come with me...my bride.” He was ready for the honeymoon. But he still doesn’t stop telling his bride about her own beauty in his eyes – for another 8 verses. He describes her as a garden, locked up, private, concealed.

   Look how she responds to these 15 verses of showering praise: 4:16 “Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.” (Modern paraphrase: “If you want it – here it is, come and get it!”)

   This beautiful, poetic passage may make you blush a little, it may make us a little uncomfortable when we read it in church, or we may feel a little lost in the translation. But this passage about a couple’s wedding and honeymoon gives us a few insights into sexual love as God intends it to be between a husband and wife. If you’re married, this serves as a good reminder, a prompter to realign your intimacy with your spouse. If you’re not married, this still matters for you because our culture inundates you with sex and sexual images all the time, and we all need to know how to process it from God’s perspective. Here’s what Song of Solomon has to teach us about God’s intention for sex: Sex is Selfless; it is Private; and it is Good.


First, sex is selfless. This may be the most important and most neglected piece of teaching about sex and marriage. We can see from those first 15 verses of chapter 4 that this new husband didn’t just run off after his wedding and pay no attention to his bride. He spoke to her, told her how beautiful she was, told her what he saw in her. He wasn’t in a rush. He wasn’t after only what he wanted (“Let’s cut the preliminaries and just hop into bed”). He took his time and romanced his wife. He worked at describing her carefully, infusing associations into the very words that she would appreciate.

   Sex is never supposed to be about what one person wants. God created sex to bring intimacy, not to satisfy just one person or make them happy. This is one of the primary lies our world tells us – that sex is about you, about pleasure, about getting what you want. That’s what leads to the glorification of sex, the idolatry of sex, and much of our sexual immorality – USING other people as objects to be manipulated for our selfish gratification, demeaning them to the equivalent of a sex toy. Sex was created by God, for marriage, to produce intimacy between a husband and wife. And that happens when a husband pursues what his wife wants, and the wife pursues what the husband wants. It’s selfless, never selfish.

   In what has to be one of the most unromantic passages about sex in the Bible, Paul wrote in 1Cor 7:3f, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.” Granted, Paul COULD have used a more exciting word than “duty”! But the point is – sex isn’t something you “demand” as your right, without consideration of the other person. Your body, as a Christian, doesn’t BELONG to you: you are not your own (1Cor 6:19). So no bullying your partner about sex – it needs to be mutual, not self-driven.

   Back to the Song of Solomon. When the husband romances his wife passionately, telling her about her beauty, easing her insecurities, and praising her, making her feel really special and appreciated – she responds.       Now, let’s be clear: this is not a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of thing. Truly pursuing the good of the other means that the husband serves and loves his wife, sacrificing his wants for hers, with no view to what he will get as a “reward.” He loves her not to get something in return, but simply because he loves her. And that’s true for wives as well; sex is not a way to manipulate, to get your way later, or to take advantage of him. It’s not a bargaining tool. You love him not to get something out of it but just to love him. Selflessness means not seeking a reward, but doing something with pure motives: for-the-other agape love.


The other insight into God’s creation of sex that we get from these verses in Song of Solomon is that sex is private. In some ways this is a no-brainer. But it’s not always.

   When the wife responds to her husband’s advances, she calls herself “his”, v16: “Let my lover come into his garden...” And all along he’s referred to her as “a garden locked up.” She belongs to him and no one else. He said to her earlier in v9, “You have stolen my heart.” He belongs to her and no one else. This love is between them and them only.

   “Loose lips sink ships” – particularly in the area of sexual intimacy. Your sex life in marriage is not your friends’ business; it’s not your mom’s business; it’s not public information – it’s for you two alone. That’s what intimacy is. It has to do with privacy, with something that’s not common knowledge, not for public broadcast. It brings intimacy into the marriage when it stays within the marriage. It’s not material for guys’ night or girls’ night. It’s not the jokes you make; it’s not for poking fun at each other. It needs to be the safest place in your marriage – because it’s where you’re most vulnerable.

   As a teenager at a post-baseball-game team party, I heard one of my married cousins making a coarse joke about having sex with his wife, and it just seemed so WRONG and disrespectful. Trashing his own wife in front of others! He was violating what should have been kept private.

   Some of the best memories and most endearing moments in marriage happen in the private intimacy of your sex life together. That’s why it’s so important to guard its purity; it has the power to either bind your marriage together OR to tear it apart. Once trust is broken, it’s hard to repair. Not impossible, but difficult. So sex is private.

   These first two principles we learn from the Song about God’s gift of sex can seem hard-hitting, a little heavy. But here’s the third important thing we learn from the Song.


Sex is good! It is! God gave it as a gift to humanity to enjoy, not to be a burden or to be boring or shameful. Look at the end of 5:1 where the “chorus of friends”, the people who have watched this relationship form and grow, respond to the marriage, endorsing how right this coupling is: “Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love.” They know this couple’s married, and their only statement is to encourage the private, exciting, joyful gift of physical pleasure and closeness that comes with marriage.

   To be clear, this “chorus” of witnesses is not a violation of the privacy we talked about earlier. It’s not as if the people close to them didn’t know what was going to happen once this couple got married. It’s no secret! Yet no details are shared. This refrain is a glimpse into how God views sex within marriage: “Drink your fill.Enjoy.You’ve waited long enough and held back until the time was right – now go for it!”

   Since our world is so polluted with negative representations of sex, extramarital sex, pornography, and all kinds of sexual immorality, it’s easy to just dismiss it as altogether bad, and want to avoid the topic of sex totally. But maybe this book is included in Scripture to remind us we do our families and ourselves a disservice if we don’t talk about it! So many people would rather have found out about sex in a wholesome way and trusted environment through their parents talking about it with them openly, rather than in covert clandestine clips of phrases from relatively-ignorant and misinformed schoolground acquaintances who happened to read a dirty book or watch a video online.

   The truth is that God made sex and gave it as a good gift to us. This is a great thing – within its boundaries. Remember the husband says his wife is like “a garden locked up” (4:12) until the wedding. This is a good gift that God has given, but He gave it to be used within boundaries, in the right setting, safely protected by that exclusive commitment and sacred covenant that you’re going to stick with one another all life long.

   And what anyone who’s married will tell you is that intimacy increases over time through trust and selflessness. There can be no intimate relationship unless trust is established and selflessness is practiced. This extends far beyond the bedroom; it’s true of every relationship. You can’t truly be close to someone unless you, over time, continue to forge trust, invest yourself in the relationship, and love them selflessly.

            This is one of the ways that our romantic relationships mirror the relationship we each have with God through Jesus. There can’t BE a relationship unless we trust Him and unless we truly give ourselves to Him. Let’s pray.