I am currently working on a new non-fiction book entitled Love, Sex, and Falling Off Cliffs: It’s All About Trusting God. The title refers to the fact that often all three of those experiences can sometimes feel like one and the same thing. In reality, there is a huge difference, of course, but understanding those differences can be difficult to impossible – unless we look at things from the point of view of the One who is love, who created sex, and who catches us if we find ourselves going over the edge of a cliff. The following article is an excerpt from that forthcoming book. (Please note that the terms “man” and “he” are used here in the generic journalistic sense to represent the human being of either sex.)
Song of Solomon references are from chapters 2, 6, and 7.
“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. His banner over me is love … and his desire is for me.” So says “The Song of Solomon” in God’s unique celebration of the sexual love and physical union that He has created for man and woman to enjoy. But even in this “song of songs” the reader can see clearly that physical union by itself was never God’s plan. Without the union of hearts and souls as well, man is functioning with only one-third of his being in a relationship, and he does so to his own sorrow.
The reason for that problem is that man is, at his very core, a spiritual being. God, who is spirit (according to Jesus’ own words in John 4: 24) created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26). It’s interesting to note that the Talmud says, in a strict translation of the original Hebrew language, that God created man as a “speaking spirit, just like Himself.”
God had a great deal to say about how important it is for the human being to understand that he is a spirit being, possessing a soul (mind, will, and emotions), and living in a body. (Two examples: John 4:24 and 1 Thess. 5:23). Man must also understand that what he believes totally in his heart and then speaks out of his mouth is what will come to pass in his life — both on this earth and in eternity. (Matt. 12:34-35, Mark 11:23-24, Romans 10: 9-10).
In fact, it is that unique “godly” ability to think with a multi-leveled consciousness (the soul, governed by the spirit) and then speak what we think and feel into the world around us, and into the lives of other people, that sets us apart from all of the rest of creation. God’s Word tells us that we are the crown of creation and that all the rest of what makes up this earth is dependent on our stewardship for its development and its very survival. (Gen. 1:26-28, Romans 8 19-23).
That being the case, we must guard our stewardship of our relationships with each other, especially in the area of love and its various modes of expression. Understanding that God, who really is smarter than we are, designed the man and woman to fit together perfectly so that their sexual union would give them the greatest amount of physical pleasure possible, also created them in such a way that the very pleasure itself would be heightened enormously by what was taking place in their souls and spirits at the same time.
So how does it all work, when it works correctly? Well, if my beloved “is mine,” then that means he has given up his rights to have “his own” way about everything or to put “himself” first. He has given himself to another person – as one gives any kind of gift – and that other person now has power over him. In fact, he can no longer just use that other person to satisfy his physical needs and longings, but has “given” himself to trying to satisfy his partner instead. And if “his banner over me” is love, that means he has spread himself and all that represents him (his name, his wealth, his possessions, and his authority) as a protective covering over his “beloved.”
A friend once made the statement that he knew he was really in love with the woman he was dating and was ready to marry her because he had come to the place where her happiness was much more important to him than his own. What a perfect example of the truth related here. And its these two kinds of commitment of the inner man – this complete giving away of self – by each partner to the other – that provide the foundation of a lasting union. They are what make this union a covenant, rather than just a legal agreement.
A covenant is more binding that a basic legal contract, because a genuine covenant puts the two parties into a relationship in which what belongs to one automatically belongs to the other. It also puts each partner in the position of being obligated to obey any request made by the other member of that covenant. And, lastly – and perhaps most important of all – a true covenant cannot be broken. Any physical union without this union of hearts and souls as well eventually creates a situation that is precarious at best and heartbreaking at worst.
As with all other problems that beset the human race, it was man’s unfortunate breaking of his spiritual link with his Creator that birthed the original problems now experienced so frequently in the sexual parts of life. But that Creator has managed to give us a way to restore that spiritual relationship through Jesus Christ, Who comes into us and renews our spirits again. As we take advantage of that restoration, letting the renewed spirit take charge of the rest of the being, the soul and body derive the benefits.
Now, nobody expects to get the very best performance and satisfaction from a car without operating it according to the owner’s manual. “After all,” we say, “this company created this car to work a certain way, and they know more about it and what will make it successful than anyone else. If I want the most I can get from this vehicle, I need to use it the way the manufacturer tells me to use it and take care of it as the handbook says.” So why should we be any less smart about using our bodies and our sexuality? Let’s go by the Manufacturer’s Handbook, and get the most we can out of our sexual experiences.
So as our spirit, restored to right relationship with God, governs our “love life,” including our sexual functions, we find that, not only does our sexual relationship meet our deepest need to be loved, valued, and secure, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. Those unfortunate people whose sexual experiences have incorporated the members of their physical bodies only have really missed out on the best. True JOY comes from the soul area, so true enJOYment of any act must include the soul in total agreement with the body. If all of your sexual experiences have been limited to those that tickled the physical nerve endings of certain body parts, and you thought that brought satisfaction and fulfillment, you “just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” That experience is nowhere near the kind of fulfillment and fun God intended for you to have. But true fulfillment comes only when the body, soul, and spirit are all three satisfied that this thing that’s happening is good — really good. And since the Word tells is clearly that “there is none good but God” (Luke 18:19), then it means doing this thing God’s way.
The degree of satisfaction and fulfillment in this complete kind of love is really hard to put into words. Songwriters have been trying to do that very thing with all of the hundreds of great love songs that have passed through our generations. But when we get right down to the root of it, have any of them ever said more than the unique love song already recorded in God’s Word? “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. His banner over me is love … and his desire is for me.”