Do Not Stir Up Love Until It Pleases
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 10:24AM
Jeff Smith in Sexuality, Worldliness

The Song of Solomon has gone through an interpretive transformation over the centuries. Until recently, scholars just could not accept such an intimate book at face value, and resorted to analogizing it into utter obscurity. Now, however, we have come to acknowledge that it really is a book about romantic love, especially young love with all of its emotion and drama. The Song of Solomon is a celebration of love, but is also a cautionary tale about falling too hard and too fast.

I. Stirring Up Love
A. Young Romance

1. the heroine of the book is a country girl, described as tan and lovely, unlike the city girls, and maybe you can identify with her if you like to wear cowboy boots sometimes or feel a little out of place when you visit a big city and see people rushing past you

2. her boyfriend is probably a handsome young fellow, but the book makes it clear that he absolutely sweeps her off her feet

3. there are many friends and onlookers in the background and a rivalry develops for her affections, but the intensity of her love for the young man is what drives the narrative – really a series of love letters and soliloquies between the boy and the girl

4. she is young and inexperienced in love, uncertain about her physical appearance and the way she is developing; he becomes enthralled with her, physically and spiritually

a. working outdoors so much, she feels, has made her look different from the city girls, but still she loves her boy and wants to see him (Song of Solomon 1:5-7)

b. his poetry is about as awkward as any young man's, but he tries to impress upon her how beautiful he thinks she is – clearly a boy will say anything to get the girl he wants (Song of Solomon 1:8-10, 15)

c. as girls today will creep on Instagram pix of the boy they love, she sat and thought about how handsome and rugged he was and how much she craved his presence (Song of Solomon 2:3-6)

5. although the language and poetry seem stilted and silly to us today, I want you to recognize that these two people are no different from us – they are enjoying love for the first time – or maybe it’s just infatuation or even lust – and they are insecure, inexperienced, and unsure how to proceed

B. Discipleship and Romance

1. the tools and technology are all different, but the essence of the relationship is the same – the emotions and urges are just as powerful and intense

2. three times in the Song of Solomon, she reminds herself as much as her friends, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (8:4, see also 2:7, 3:5).

3. these two, seemingly, are headed for marriage, and many young girls make the same assumption in the throes of their first romances and they sometimes go further emotionally and physically than they should because of it

4. the boy and girl in the Song of Solomon demonstrate for us how powerful and inevitable those emotions and desires really are, that there is nothing wrong with them, but that there is nothing virtuous about stirring them up further before becoming mature enough to make the commitment of marriage

5. the lesson resonates because it is thrice-repeated: Do not stir up love until the time is right

a. being a disciple of Christ means learning not only to wait on marriage, but to take the steps necessary so that one is not constantly wrapped in the arms of temptation

b. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. … Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. … You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (First Corinthians 6:13, 18-20).

II. Before It Pleases
A. Take Care Whom You Date

1. sometimes our standard for dating someone is pretty shallow, amounting to little more than physical attraction, but that can get us into trouble if the person’s spirit is not quite as appealing

2. it is often difficult to tell this for sure at first, because people are on their best behavior in the beginning, but when signs appear that he or she is not what you thought, something has to be done

3. it is difficult to date only members of the churches of Christ, and there is always the potential to convert unbelievers, but it is wise to be cautious where there is obvious difference in convictions, especially if the signs point to a desire to stir up love too quickly

4. if the person you are dating does not respect your dearest convictions, no matter how pretty the package, you are headed for a heartbreak (Second Timothy 2:19-22)

B. Take Care What You Do

1. many of the things we do on dates are harmless and fun, but some of them can stir up ideas and urges that are difficult to control when enflamed

2. we must take care how we spend our time together

a. some movies have sexual scenes in them that stir up desire and give the impression that there are no consequences to fornication

b. drinking alcohol and using drugs, while always wrong, instantly begins to lower inhibitions against sin, even if it's the other person who is doing it

c. making out stirs up adrenaline and energy and it becomes very difficult to apply the brakes when most necessary

d. it is understandable that we want to dress attractively and to emphasize our best features, but tight jeans, short skirts and low cut blouses make for easy prey

3. on a different subject, the apostle Paul asserted, “we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (Second Corinthians 8:21).

4. any date that insists on doing things that violate your convictions or make you feel vulnerable to temptation is not going to be there when the punishment is handed out

C. Respect the Boundaries

1. there are boundaries between virtue and vice that are sharp and clear, but in the throes of love and desire, they become blurred and negotiable

2. there comes a time to insist on stopping when things have probably already gone too far, but the passion is powerful and deadly

3. Paul warned against apostasy rooted in any number of transgressions, naming fornication as one of them: “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day” (First Corinthians 10:8).

a. some people fall into fornication and never recover; they sink deeper and deeper into sin, and although they might return to the church and even repent publicly if exposed by unwanted pregnancy, they never really recover

b. some do bounce back and regain their former faithfulness, but it’s too great a risk to take

4. and so God always presents us with a way to escape temptation (First Corinthians 10:12-13)

D. Understand the Consequences

1. Unintended offspring is just one of the consequences of going too far too fast – unwed mothers usually struggle with poverty, stress, loss of educational opportunity, and dead-end jobs, or they burden their parents with helping them to raise their grandchildren

2. many Americans suffer from any one of many diseases that are transmitted between uncommitted partners, sometimes shortening their lives or burdening their future spouses

3. most ominous, however, is the guilt that envelops the heart of the Christian who falls into sexual immorality and will now be unable to present a future spouse with a clean slate, and who has forfeited his or her sanctification, or distinctiveness (First Thessalonians 4:3-8)

Sexual immorality is not inevitable, but in our culture and with the power of peer pressure and media portrayals, it is difficult to rise above. Do not stir up love until the time is right.

Questions for Review

  1. Describe the hero and heroine of the Song of Solomon.

  2. What is different between then and today?

  3. What is it to stir up love before it pleases?

  4. What is the problem with sexual immorality?

  5. What is the danger in dating an unbeliever?

  6. What dating activities are loaded with danger?

  7. What is the best way of escape when things are stirring up?

Update on Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 12:41PM by Registered CommenterJeff Smith

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