House Of Cards

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How beautiful you are, my love, how very beautiful!

Your eyes are doves behind your veil.

Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.

Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.

Your lips are like a crimson thread, and your mouth is lovely.

Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.

How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride!

How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!

Song of Songs 4:1-3,7,9-10

In Song of Solomon we discover a passion, a longing for another, the kind of love that is impatient and moving.  The kind of love in Song of Solomon demands intimacy, nearness.  It transforms our desires and priorities.  This love paints the way we see and relate to the world.

When we love with abandon, as we see in Song of Solomon, our focus is on the object of our love.  The fine and valued things of our world pale in comparison to the moments you encounter this love.  You radiate this love.  Others cannot engage you absent of your desire for this love.

This kind of love is illustrated in the parable of the treasure and pearl.  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  In this the Kingdom of God is love itself.  The gospel Jesus brings to us is that of love.

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”  Our bodies are the storehouse of God’s love.

Our bodies store the love found in the Song of Songs and this enhances the daily experience of life.  This love does not merely add value to life.  It makes life worth living.  This love penetrates the deepest level of ones soul and inhabits that primal place of our being.  This love is the intimate encounter of Creator and creation.  Words of description pale in its encounter.  They may speak of it but may never exhaust the passion and desperate nature of ones longing for this love.  For this is the love of beginnings.  The love of peace.  The love of compassion.  The love of God.

This is not a love of rational thought and reason.  We cannot quantify this love.  There is no formulaic respond to it.  Decency and order no longer spawn embarrassment and reserve.  Rather our deepest desires are revealed and we may respond to them.

What can we point to in our lives that inspire a love like that in Song of Songs?  We long for God and wait to be transformed.  With abandon we endeavor an encounter with God.  It is in this pursuit that fulfillment arrives.  One cannot be near God without intimacy.  This requires of us a single-minded nature towards intimacy.

If the text is received with a literal interpretation we awaken to a deep intimacy that is available to creation.  We are provided a window into the poetic and beautiful recesses of human longing and desire.  Those intimate connections to others spark in us pleasure, contentment, completion, and joy.

This kind of love found in Song of Songs suggests a dependence of creation to its Creator.  Looking to Jesus Christ as the lover of our soul we see a collective revelation of hope and grace.  In Christ we are awakened to the possibility of love and its transforming witness.  This is made possible through an intimate love that hungers impatiently awaiting a response.

When we engage each other with the love described in the Song of Songs we love as God loves us.  Our crude idea of love, when viewed in distinctly human terms, subjugates God’s love to the sole physical action.  This is the veil to which sin rests.  The love ascribed to God in the Song of Songs suggests that there is something more to life than what we physically encounter.  This is the hope in which resurrection in Jesus Christ is revealed to the world and proclaimed in the passionate sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  The very act of reconciliation is first in the movement towards transformation.  This is progressed in a deep passionate, impatient and longing desire to be near God.

That same love Jesus offers in parable after parable.  That love of Christ that points us towards change, redemption, and reconciliation.  The longings of our heart are fulfilled in intimacy with Jesus that directs us towards each other.  We become surrogates of the love of Jesus the Christ, to ourselves, to each other, and to the world.

If we are to reclaim the Song of Songs in our teaching and preaching we must embrace the sexual culture that surrounds us.  We must engage the church in matters of desire, longing, and passions.  To sanitize God as an ambient light within the sexual context relegates the church to shame and guilt when encountering their personal desires and passions.

We must communicate from pulpits, with Bible studies, and in small groups the passionate response to God’s beloved creation in Jesus Christ.  Today it is difficult to engage a board and lethargic culture that levees Christianity to soap box rhetoric and revival like television programs.  If we are to effectively communicate the human condition of depravity in sin and estrangement from God we must not fear abandonment of decency and order.

If it is transformation we seek in Christ then the passionate desperation that emanates from the Song of Songs must be our guide.  The song captures our human emotions and evokes a relation like no other text in the canon.  In our rapid fire, instant gratified culture we must be like Christ and meet creation where it is.

It is in this passionate human response to an object worthy of affection that we learn to relate to each other and creation in a Godly fashion.  The theologian David Carr speaks of this in the paper, Functional Decanonization of the Song of Songs.  He writes, “deprived of the Song of Songs as a theological recourse, they [modern Biblical scholars] were less able to see the erotic potential of their relationship with God and the world.[1]

Carr goes on to suggest that we must work to open up a “historically crude” awareness of the Song of Songs.  The treasure of wealth that has remained hidden can be uncovered.  To achieve this we must dig through the historical settings and influences that lie in the continuous dialog of literal and allegorical interpretation.

I believe that the two perspectives work in unison with each other.  A literal application of the Song of Songs to human love and an intimate and impatient desire to be fulfilled embarks us on a journey of close interpersonal connections with each other.  Can we relate to God with fire and passion that leads to transformation absent of a human understanding?  To do so would, neglect the full humanity of Jesus Christ.

If we remain at a literal application of the Song of Songs we miss out on the benefit of the deeper meaning.  When we look to this passionate, impatient, and perhaps lustful account of relationship with allegorical eyes new vision is given and new life is presented.  This is transformation.  We are truly transformed when we look to God as our lover and hunger ravenously for a fleeting encounter.

In order to reclaim the Song of Songs for the church today we must engage the text in an honest, vulnerable, and passionate fashion.  Teaching and preaching from this text in light of the reconciliation present in Jesus Christ is one way to reclaim this passage.  First we must not fear our Eros (our carnal desires) and cease the red faced giggles from the back of the church as human passion is proclaimed and ventured towards our most Holy and perfect union as one reconciled in Christ.

The principal meaning of the Song of Songs is responding to God’s call on our lives.  This response must be vulnerable, intimate, and transforming.  As we become awakened to our state of estrangement from God we discover the same passion and longing that is depicted here in Song of Songs.

We awaken desperately seeking to draw near God in an exhaustive, unashamed pursuit of Jesus the Christ.  When we love in a radical passionate manner we are transformed and become agents of God’s transforming love.  This challenges the status quo thus transforming creation.

This leaves us with one question, “Are we afraid of an intimate God?”

[1] Canonization and Decanonization, page 185

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