Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Song of Songs: Dealing with the main objections first

There are, and have been, two main objections to the Song of Songs. They are:

1. It is pornograpy and does not belong in the Bible
2. The woman is a harlot in her ways and speech

To deal with point one:

It is pornography and does not belong in the Bible

This requires a look at the definition of pornography.

The definition is: Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

So, we deal here with primary purpose. The primary purpose of the Song of Songs is to extol the virtues of physical love in the union of sacramental marraige and to reflect, in a divnely inspired work the love of God for his people.

Proving this will be the main purpose of the posts over the next weeks. So I'll be returning to this point along the way and in my final summation at the end of my series of posts.

The woman is a harlot in her ways and speech

This charge has been made by people in the middle ages, the victorian era and Muslim detractors. But one must remember that the Song of Songs reflects the perfect state. it reflects the perfection of the union of man and woman in the love of marriage and the perfect state of God's love for His people.

First, let us view the imperfect state. This state can be summed up in the line from Genesis:

yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
Genesis 3:16

Contrast with the Song of Songs:

I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me
Songs 7:10

Something happens in this book. It is best described by Nicolas Ayo in Sacred Marriage: The Wisdom of The Song of Song:

The issue is not a new advantage of women at the expense of men, or the old advantage of men at the expense of women, but rather a loving dance together where either may lead or either may follow, where none is pushed or anyone dragged

he adds:

Surley this is the love song God intended for humankind from the beginning. Only in the trinitarian life of the one God is there complete interpersonal relationship, while each person remains an intergal idenity. But human beings were made in the image of God.

This is the redemption of humanity as total persons. Our bodies as well as our souls. In the Trinity the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. Yet they maintain their individual natures. It is the great mystery of God's nature and marriage reflects it.

A man and a woman remain themselves, but are totally one. They have children who join as one family, but still remain themselves. Marraige and family is, in the redemption by Christ, a reflection of the most perfect union of God.

This woman is not a harlot. A harlot is a sinful woman or a prostitute. The woman in the Song of Songs does not act above her station or out of place. In the redemption of the body and the perfection of love, the curse set upon Eve is gone. The mutual unity of the sexes is restored. Man and woman are free again. The death and decay of the world caused by sin has be torn away by Christ.

Our physical natures are here for a reason. Things are out of place or put to sinful use when they do not glorify God. But the man and woman in the Song of Songs, as the full look at the book will show, are indeed in union for the Glory of the Most High. It can remind us of the line from Acts of the Apostles:

And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has cleansed, you must not call common
Acts 10:15

These two objections will persist, and one post is not enough to deal with them. The purpose of this post is to place the chapter by chapter analysis in the proper light.

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