Saturday, May 26, 2012

LASTING LOVE: How Lasting Love Is Established

“Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and the wild does of the field: do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.” (Song of Solomon 2:7 HCSB)

Can marriage survive? 

The assault by Satan on this first, God-given institution has been highly successful.  Marriage is being shunned more and more, as couples just live together.  Cohabitation has become epidemic, and is no longer frowned upon.  Multiple divorces and remarriages have meant serial polygamy.  Our society is moving toward increasing acceptance of “same-sex” marriage, which would completely redefine it.

There can be many reasons why the state of modern marriage is crumbling, but there is one cause that is primary—most marriages are built on a faulty foundation—so they do not stand.

I recall several years ago, seeing a news story about a housing development in Texas.  People had built their dream homes.  But, then some of the walls of those houses began to crack.  Day after day, one home after another experienced this—and it became so bad that they became unsafe for occupation.  Those houses were bulldozed down.  The unscrupulous contractor had built them on a landfill.  The foundation was not stable and when that is the case, the structure cannot stand.  Jesus said that in Matthew 7:24-27:

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.  The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn't collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn't act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

God’s design is for marriage to be permanent and sex to be pure.  Near the beginning of the Bible we read, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.  Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:24-25 HCSB)  Jesus reaffirmed this as His standard under the New Covenant as well (see Matthew 19:4-6).  Then, approaching the end of the Bible we hear, “Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4 HCSB)

Sex is not a dirty word.  God designed it, and a holy God can only produce that which is good—so there is good sex—good not only in its momentary intensity but in its enduring intimacy.  All things are to be done to the glory of God and that means the marital bond should be also. 

The Bible teaches that in the beginning God made humans sexual beings—male and female.  They stood before Him, and each other, naked and unashamed.  He ordained that marriage be consummated through physical intercourse. 

So, how did sex become something defiled?

Into that pristine environment of Eden, came the filthy invasion of sin, which perverted and distorted everything.  The pure became polluted, the clean was corrupted and the beautiful became base.  Thus, our world views sex as something pornographic, something lewd and crude.  Sadly, even the church has bought into this philosophy, and we have often responded to our culture by avoiding discussing the positive pleasure of sex, and if spoken of at all, just railing against the negative perversion of it.  Don’t be mistaken, there are many biblical prohibitions to sinful sexual activity.  People need to hear them.  We need to shout out against the dirty distortion of the world.  The message of Scripture is clear and we can summarize it like this: sex outside of marriage is wrong.  Yet, we cannot stop there—and often in conservative, Bible-believing churches we have.  We must also say what the Bible teaches about the beauty of sanctified sex.   How can one read the Song of Solomon and conclude otherwise?

It is a book often avoided.  We think discussing such matters in church is taboo.  Not in front of the children!  That is a mistake with tragic implications.  Someone will educate children concerning sex.  Our world is doing it—and what they are learning is utterly contrary to God’s design.  Nature abhors a vacuum and if the church doesn’t fill that void with truth, you can be sure the Devil and his minions will fill it with trash.

Doesn’t everyone enjoy a love song?   Maybe you have a favorite.  When Marilyn and I were dating, we listened to love songs—we still do.  “Our” song was by a group called Chicago entitled, “Color My World.” It says,

“As time goes on I realize
Just what you mean to me
And now, now that you're near
Promise your love
That I've waited to share
And dreams of our moments together
Color my world with hope of loving you.”

That’s it.  That’s all there is to it.  Our children laugh at us for having such a simple little ditty in our wedding.  We thought it said a lot!

Solomon had a favorite song of many that he composed, “Solomon's Finest Song.” (1:1)  This book contains only eight chapters, yet it contains a comprehensive message of the positive pleasure of pure sex.  When you read it, if you have a romantic bone in your body, you are left breathless and saying, “What more do you need to say?”

In this first study, we look at the establishing of lasting love, and in the next study we observe the enduring of lasting love.  Lasting love is established on a foundation of courtship that is passionate, yet pure and covenant that is celebrated in public and consummated in private.  Marriage can survive—and even thrive!


We call it “dating.”  There is a chemical reaction—a magnetic attraction.  Oh, that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is more delightful than wine. The fragrance of your perfume is intoxicating; your name is perfume poured out. No wonder young women adore you.” (1:2-3)  Now, love has to be more than hormonal—it is commitment—but, it certainly ought to include physical attraction.  If there are no sparks in courtship, there will be no fire in marriage!

We are wired up by our Creator as sexual beings.  I tell couples in premarital counseling that if you are not aroused with physical desire for your fiancée, then by no means should you marry them.  Sex isn’t all there is to marriage, but it’s important.  This is the point where the hormones are going to kick in, and becoming an adult means leaving your parents’ arms to rest in the arms of your spouse.

Sexuality isn’t meant to be repressed, as though it is something evil to experience.  It is meant to be restrained, as a powerful force that cannot be properly expressed during courtship.  A fire inside a fireplace will warm your house, but if it gets out on the floor, it will burn your house down!  The marriage covenant is like that fireplace, meant to keep the glow of romance burning between husband and wife.  Sex outside that “fireplace” while very hot for a while, ends up destructive.

It is the difference between sinful lust and sanctified love.  Lust cannot wait to get, but love can wait to give.  God isn’t trying to spoil your pleasure, but to seal and sustain it.  The wedding night ought to be a special night.  The honeymoon should be a time of exploration and adventure.  Otherwise, what’s the point?


During my lifetime, there have been several “Royal Weddings” televised from England, beamed by satellite around the world.  But, long before that, the Old Testament contained a wedding fit for a king—that of Solomon and his bride.  In the courtship, there had been preparation and now in their covenant there will be celebration.

“Come out, young women of Zion, and gaze at King Solomon, wearing the crown his mother placed on him the day of his wedding-the day of his heart's rejoicing.” (3:11)

While we often focus on the bride in weddings today—what she wore and who accompanied her—the focus in those days was on the bridegroom!  Before she is mentioned, Solomon’s entourage and appearance is highlighted (3:6-11).  One remnant of this in the modern ceremony is the tradition of the groom entering first.  This reminds us that the man in the house is to be the leader and initiator.  This is God’s design.

Then, “Here comes the bride!” (4:1-11)  What a beauty she is!  I have done many weddings and I have never seen an ugly bride (though there were one or two close calls).  Insofar as Solomon is concerned, she is flawless! “You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you.” (4:7)  Really, there is no such thing as physical perfection.  The images put in magazines of these stunning models are air-brushed in the photography, and they have often had many “enhancements” which artificially alter them.  But, here is the reality of true love—it gives a lens that corrects flaws and makes a man say, “She’s perfect!”  We may look at her and wonder what he saw in her, but what he saw was with the eyes of love—the one God perfectly designed to complete him.

After the celebration, there would be consummation.  All the pent up passion would be unleashed!  The garden of her delight had been locked, and now swings wide open.

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride-with me from Lebanon! Descend from the peak of Amana, from the summit of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards. You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride. You have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful your love is, my sister, my bride. Your love is much better than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any balsam. Your lips drip [sweetness like] the honeycomb, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. My sister, my bride, [you are] a locked garden-a locked garden and a sealed spring. Your branches are a paradise of pomegranates with choicest fruits, henna with nard—nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the best spices.  [You are] a garden spring, a well of flowing water streaming from Lebanon.  Awaken, north wind-come, south wind. Blow on my garden, and spread the fragrance of its spices. Let my love come to his garden and eat its choicest fruits.” (4:8-16)

What a honeymoon!  Solomon would say, “It was worth the wait!”

Now, what if you didn’t wait?  Does that mean the marriage can never work?  There will be hurdles to overcome—make no mistake about it—but that is what grace is about.  If you have never as a couple acknowledged your sin—confess it to God, and ask forgiveness of one another.  God has promised that He will forgive and heal.

Some who are reading these words may even now be engaging in sex outside of marriage.  Stop!  Repent and ask God to restore your purity.  Physically, your virginity once surrendered can never be reclaimed, but spiritually, you can be as holy as if you had never sinned.  That’s what the blood of Jesus will do.

Lasting love is to be our goal.  If God has someone for you, it will be a special someone.  Establish your relationship in a manner that glorifies God and it will be good for you!

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