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The Sex Talk

The Sex Talk

Song of Solomon 2:3-10a and 4: 1-11.


There has been a lot of rubbish talked about this passage.

But then sex often puts religious people into a bit of a tissy.

How many of you got the sex talk from your parents?

If you did, do any of you want to share that experience with us, what they said and how they said it?

If my family was anything to go by, then probably not.

I think my mum and dad felt it was never the right time to have the sex talk.

We can wait till they are a bit older.

And then the kids are going out with people and they thought it was probably a bit late to have a talk that they should have had a decade before.

But then again, in my day it was kind of expected that the school gave you that talk.

I don’t know about your school but my school gave a brilliant sex talk...if you were a frog. For some reason explaining how a frog had sex was the doorway into all sex.

It probably explains why so many girls in my school though thought that kissing a frog could help them find a prince.

That’s the thing about this passage.

It’s embarrassing.

But sex is.

Let me tell you my view of sex.

Sex is a gift from God.

Like all gifts it can either be used right or abused badly.

Sex between two consenting adults in a long term loving relationship can be one of the most bonding of experiences.

Out with that it can be damaging and destructive and self destructive.

I don’t think that sexual sin is any worse or less worse than any other sin.

We tend to think it is worse because it is more private.

If you found out I had cheated the church out of £50,000 would that be worse than finding out I had affairs with 50 different women.

It might be more believable thinking I had stolen from the church than had fifty affairs, but it wouldn't be a worse betrayal.

Or maybe you think it would.

Because sex is personal.

If someone steals from the collection it is the church that hurts, if someone betrays you, that has had sex with you, then that is personal. It feels worse.

Which is why this passage is so awkward.

Because it is about a couple that want sex.

She is fawning over how wonderful he is, he is fawning about how wonderful she is.

That’s it.

Now you can imagine how that would go down in a synagogue.

You can imagine how that goes down in a church.

So theologians tried to make it more religious.

Quite hard to do really because God isn’t mentioned once in all of this.

But they couldn’t take this stuff literally.

In the introduction to the Good New Bible it says this about the Song of Songs...’These songs have often been interpreted by Jews as a picture of the relationship between God and his people, and by Christians as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.’

Who are they trying to kid?

These poems are meant to be an allegory, that they are just symbolic of how God feels about us?

Would we let anyone else get away with that?

Can you imagine in a few years time when people make a book of all Donald Trumps tweets and they say, ‘Oh you weren’t supposed to take them literally, they were all allegorical.’

So what are we meant to make of this book?

What are we meant to make of love and sex?

The first thing I would make of it is that it is very personal.

You read this stuff and it’s like reading someone personal diary.

Or if it isn’t personal you think it should be.

If anyone started saying this stuff out loud and it wasn't to me and it wasn't my wife then I would be telling them to go and get a room.

I remember this wedding I was to take.

And the couple wanted the service to be at night rather than in the afternoon. And they didn’t want lights in the church, they wanted candles all through the church.

And they didn’t want a prayer of blessing after the rings were put on, they wanted a guy to come from the congregation with a guitar and he would serenade them.

Now you know me, I am possibly the most romantic person you know.

So I said in response to all this.

‘Do you supply the sick buckets for the congregation?’

Not one of my best moments.

But the couple weren’t happy with me anyway as I had pointed out that I didn't think anyone would find it easy reading the hymns by distant candlelight. And they would have to supply more fire extinguishers because long dresses and candles at the end of every pew were not a good combination.

Here’s the thing. They wanted that moment together to be amazing, to be unique, to be special, to be unforgettable. They wanted that moment to reflect how they thought about each other.

If our relationship with God is meant to be the most important relationship we have, greater than the bonds of spouse or family, then how come we don’t think that way about when we meet up with God?

In that moment in their relationship, in that moment of marriage they wanted something highly personal, but also wanted to share that with the world. They wanted the whole world to know how much they wanted to be together.

When was the last time people could look at our faith and our relationship with God, and what they saw in our relationship with God was a declaration of how much we wanted to be close to God?

That we wanted the whole world to know how important that relationship was?

As well as being very personal, there is one thing that I noticed in this book. It is very positive, each of them sees the best in the other.

‘Like a lily among thorns is my darling among women.’

‘Return, my darling, like a gazelle, like a stag on the mountains of Bether.’

There is nothing negative about their relationship in this passage. I tell a lie, the only negative in the passage is that they are not together as much as they want to be.

Can you imagine a long term relationship talking like that?

My daughters are in long term relationships but they haven’t been in relationships all that long. They are in the five-seven year length of relationship.

They might speak to their partners like this some of the time...but if they do it also has already a sprinkling of negativity.

Things like...’You snore like an elephant.’

Things like ...’It would be nice if you lifted your underwear off the ground and put it in the washing basket every once in a while.’

But in this relationship everything is positive...

‘Like a lily among thorns is my darling among women.’

‘Return, my darling, like a gazelle, like a stag on the mountains of Bether.’

I started to write this sermon on Monday and as I was writing it my wife came into the room to ask what I was doing that day.

I said, ‘Usual Monday, writing sermons visiting the hospital this afternoon.’

Strangely enough she did not reply to that, ‘Return my darling after the hospital visits like a gazelle to me, like a stag on the mountains of the Campsies.’

Joking aside.

This is a couple that want so much to be beside each other, they only see the best in the other.

What would our faith be like if we believed that that is how God feels about us?

What would our faith be like if we felt God saw such potential and hope in us?

That God understood and forgave our mistakes and didn’t hold them against us?

That God saw the best moment in our lives as the next moment of our lives, and that is what really mattered to him?

Maybe we need to reflect on that a bit more.

To see ourselves as God sees us.

Which brings me onto my last point.

This passage, is truly personal as our faith should be, and truly positive as God’s relationship with us is.

But as an old cynic of a guy I see one more thing about this passage.

It was written by young love.

This song reflects young love, new love...that wonderful and scary moment when you feel your heart is about to burst, that your body is literally going through palpitations. That you want every moment to be a moment with your love beside you.

And when that kind of relationship is going well then everything is wonderful, and when it isn't then everything is terrible.

But even if we find that love then it can’t stay there.

There is something more wonderful about mature love, that peace you have that is based on experience.

You are together because you have faced life together.

That you know every weakness and flaw of the other and you still care.

That you have seen them at their worst and at their best, and the love has changed, it has grown.

You have laughed together, you have cried together, and when you look into each others eyes you see a life you would never have changed, a life you have shared together with the world.

So there you have it.

The Song of Songs, a couple being a bit too vivid about what they feel about each other. And in essence that is all it is.

But we can reflect on it.

How personal it is, how positive it is, and how our relationship with God could maybe be a bit more like that.

But that in the end we need to seek what we would really want from our life.

The excitement of early love and the passion that comes with it are all very good.

But being able to look back on our relationships, all our relationships, even our relationship with God, and seeing how we lived together, through the good and bad, through the laughter and the tears, and rejoice in a life well shared, a life worth the journey.

That is something worth striving for.

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