from theThis is a revision of a previous post: 3000-year-old Dating and Marriage Advice (That Still Works).
Have you ever wondered why God gave us sexuality but then didn’t give us any real practical ways to be able to control it?
I know I used to wonder. While being given such advice as “Don’t have sex before marriage!” and “Flee fornication!” I thought that while the Bible had a lot to say about NOT having sex, it had pretty much nothing to say about having it.
I thought as I’m sure many others have:
“Okay, so I am to flee fornication… but, why didn’t God tell me how? And why is it such an important thing to save myself until marriage anyway?”
I guess I just assumed that the Bible was not the place to find this advice and it was left up to us to figure out. I thought that there were just enough sadder-but-wiser people who had had everything come crashing down and were kind enough to tell others what they had discovered in the process.
I thought this until I discovered the Song of Solomon: God’s inspired words on what romantic and sexual love should look like. An entire book, sadly neglected and widely ignored. It is a book that deepened my love and respect for the Bible entirely – because it shows me that God meant what He said when He said that He gave us all things that we need for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Did you know that it details:
- how wonderful and beautiful sexual love can be within marriage;
- how to keep the “spice” in your marriage relationship; and
- practical ways to keep yourself pure before marriage?
But until a few year’s back, I had never heard a sermon on the Song of Solomon at all!
So, to celebrate the beauty and depth of this book (and to hopefully get you flicking through its pages,) here are 27 pieces of advice it contains to guide you in your dating and married lives. I encourage you to read this list with an open book so that you can learn the language of this book for yourself. These pieces of advice are listed in order as they are found in the book, so it’s basically a little walk through the book’s practical advice!
| DATING |
1. When seeking someone to marry, first look for a man/woman who has a good reputation (Song 1:4). Physical attraction is somewhat important – as the Shulamite certainly appreciated her man’s beauty (v.3). But we also need to remember that physical beauty can be lost over time and will definitely lose it’s appeal if we find that the outer beauty is not followed by a strength of character. When someone has an attractive character and you fall in love with that, you will find that you become attracted to them physically as well.
2. Enter into a relationship with a healthy self-esteem (1:5). If you have a low self-esteem, it is more likely that you will settle for less than you deserve, because you feel like you wouldn’t be able to attract someone good. Believe that you deserve goodness in—and are capable of bringing goodness to—a relationship. The Shulamite had a healthy view of her body.
3. Look for someone who makes your relationship be known to others and treats you like their one person of choice (1:7-8, 12; 2:1-4). If someone keeps your relationship unknown to others, it is likely they are using you – trying to keep their options open. At the very least they are certainly not respecting you as they should. Make sure the status of your relationship with them is clear between the both of you as well as those around you. Solomon set a banner of love over his chosen partner for all to see.
4. The best way keep your reputation clean and your purity intact while dating by choosing to date in public (1:16, 17). Make the decision before dating and make a firm stand as to that decision. You will find that by doing this you will avoid unnecessary temptation. Solomon and his loved one courted in the open.
5. Only date someone who sees your worth and expresses it. Your partner should build up your self-esteem, not tear it down (1:5, 6; 2:1). Have enough respect for yourself to realise that. Solomon praised the Shulamite’s beauty, deciding to overlook her flaws.
6. Bring something beneficial to the relationship. Don’t just look for the right person, be the right person. (2:1, 3). If you can’t offer anything positive, then you are not ready to date. Put a priority on self-improvement. Conversely, if your partner can’t offer you anything positive, then best look for a new partner. Solomon was a protector and the Shulamite brought beauty to his life.
7. Do not “awaken the love” before it is time (2:6, 7; 3:5; ESV). While having a desire to engage in the sexual relationship with the one you are dating is completely healthy, fantasizing about the sexual act before marriage is unhealthy. You cannot be surprised when fantasy becomes flirtation and flirtation becomes fulfillment. Things never “just happen.” As the Shulamite realised, actions start with unchecked thoughts.
8. Only continue to date someone whom you can’t wait to spend time with (2:8-9). If you look to each meeting with anything less than enthusiasm, it would be best to end the relationship. Dating a person should increase your love and desire for a person, not decrease it. Do you really want to be tied to a person you don’t enjoy seeing for the rest of your life? Best to let them go now. The Shulamite and Solomon grew in their love for each other.
9. Seek to get to know your prospective marriage partner on a deeper level than just the surface—seek to know their heart (2:11-14). Dating is a time to truly get to know what the other person thinks and feels on a wide range of subjects, and see whether you could live with their decisions. Ask a lot of questions and be careful about becoming too involved in physical touch too quickly. Being physically intimate in the dating stage will stop you from being able to follow your head.
10. Identify relationship destroying habits (“little foxes”) early on and seek to rectify them (2:15). Dating is a place where you can dissolve problems before they become deeper problems in the context of marriage. If you can’t resolve conflicts in a healthy way before marriage, you need to consider if this really is a healthy relationship for you to continue. Solomon identified that there were little problems (foxes) that could potentially destroy their relationship (grapes), and sought to get rid of them quickly.
| MARRIAGE |
11. Make the wedding day a special one for your spouse (3:9). Put in an effort to honour your spouse, making it the “day of the gladness of his [or her] heart” (3:11). Solomon considered his wedding to be a very special day and built a chariot out of fine materials especially for that day.
12. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your marriage (3:7-8). If people don’t value you or the sanctity of marriage, then their presence will likely be a negative one. Have your close friends be those that value marriage – those who will encourage you to stick with your spouse when things get rough.
13. Seek your parent’s opinion and approval of your prospective marriage partner. Though it may not always be required, having your parent’s consent and approval in regards to your spouse is a good sign that you have made the right decision (3:11). Solomon’s mother obviously approved of their union.
14. Praise your spouse’s appearance often and in different ways and seek to build up their self-esteem. Don’t ever criticise your partner’s body (4:1-7). Ever. Solomon puts in special effort to praise his wife’s body many times in this book.
15. Give your body willingly, joyfully, and often. Work with your spouse so that you can both gain enjoyment in the sexual union. Both partners should be ready to learn what the other needs and give their bodies and fill their partner’s sexual needs happily (4:1-16). Solomon was careful to praise and admire every part of his wife’s body (what woman doesn’t love that?) and the Shulamite responded with her enthusiasm and pleasure (which men love).
16. Kiss passionately. How did he know that honey and milk were under her tongue (4:11;7:9)?! Here we have the French kiss invented way before the nation of France ever came about, people. Solomon kisses the Shulamite twice in the book in this way.
Good news: Passionate kissing in the context of marriage is encouraged. So get to it. *wink*
17. Seek to meet the physical needs of your spouse above your own. Failing to meet your spouse’s needs causes them to fall into unnecessary temptations, leading them to this will prevent them looking elsewhere to have them met (5:2-6). There is no excuse for sin, of course – but we should strive to make this life as easy and enjoyable for our spouse’s as possible. The Shulamite was tired and rejected her husband’s amorous advances at first (though she quickly regrets it).
18. Resolve conflict quickly. Conflict is inevitable, but the way you handle conflict goes a long way into making your marriage work out. Seek to be reconciled to your spouse (emotionally and intimately) as quickly as possible when there is any tension causing a strain on your relationship (5:7-8). The Shulamite ran to find Solomon when she realised she’d hurt him with her rejection.
19. Remind yourself of your partner’s good qualities when you are tempted to be selfish. There was a reason you married them in the first place. Make a list. Give yourself reasons to feel love for them again (5:9-16). The Shulamite reminded herself of Solomon’s good qualities when she was tempted to neglect his need for intimacy.
20. Be quick to offer forgiveness. When there is conflict and you are the one who has been wronged, be willing to accept the apology graciously (6:1-7). Be ready to offer forgiveness before the words even come out. Offer your love and sweetness (even if you have been wronged) then reward their efforts with a full restoration of relationship (6:11-13). Solomon approached the Shulamite with kindness before she even said sorry.
21. Determine to set your spouse in your heart as your one and only (6:8-9). Determine to give your eyes and your heart only to your spouse (cf.Job 31:1). Let them know through your words and actions that although there are many men/women in the world around you, they are the only one you desire to direct your attention towards. Solomon considered his wife the most beautiful of all women – and let her know.
22. Take joy in your husband’s attraction to you. Women: be ready for your husband to be attracted to your body, and realise that his being attracted to you is a very good thing (7:10)! And trust him when he says he loves your body – this will help both of you to cultivate a greater intimacy. The Shulamite realised that Solomon’s praise and desire for her body was a thing to be joyful about!
23. Go on romantic holidays (without kids, preferably) to reconnect and rekindle the flame (7:11-12). Solomon and the Shulamite saw value in taking romantic holidays together.
24. Remember to keep doing the things you know your spouse loves, but also remember surprise them every now and then. Love within marriage (both sexual and non-sexual) should be expressed in both “old and new” ways (7:13). Make sure to schedule little surprises for your spouse to keep the flame alive, as well as revisiting old favourites. Here is a post on how to spice things up in the bedroom.
25. Be jealous for your spouse’s love (8:6,7)—continue to put effort into your relationship so that they will not feel like they have to go anywhere else to find satisfaction. Realise that love is only lost where spouse’s stop choosing to love and show love.
26. Keep yourself pure. The Shulamite woman put a priority on purity, which was attractive to Solomon (8:8-10). Keeping yourself pure is what God desires for you – and it is both possible AND worth the effort.
Note: Even if you have not had past purity, you can still protect your purity now.
27. Continue to flirt with your spouse long into marriage (8:13, 14). Never, ever stop dating. Never, ever stop making time to touch, flirt, play, and laugh with your spouse. Solomon and the Shulamite made an effort to connect and show their desire for one another.
12 thoughts on “Sex and Relationship Advice from the Song of Solomon”
Great thing…av learnt alot.Thank you.
You are so welcome! I am glad you found it useful. 🙂
hello! I’ve stumbled onto your blog a time or two before, and I’ve really liked what I’ve seen. But today, this quote grabbed my attention and I had a question concerning it.
“Enter into a relationship with a healthy self-esteem (1:5). If you have a low self-esteem, it is more likely that you will settle for less than you deserve, because you feel like you wouldn’t be able to attract someone good. Believe that you deserve goodness in—and are capable of bringing goodness to—a relationship before beginning one.”
There is no young man in my life right now, but I have terrible self esteem. My parents have told me I need to “have this type of thing/problem fixed before getting married” or so I don’t “take it into a marriage” because it will effect things. MY question is, if you’ve been through things when you were younger that ingrained “insignificance” into you– no matter how WRONG those feelings were– that still affect the way you think and perceive things about yourself, HOW DO YOU WORK ON FIXING THAT so you DON’T carry that emotional baggage with you into a marriage and have it effect everything? How can you, by Gods’ grace, have this “healthy self esteem” you mention? And how do you not let it slip over into self-centered PRIDE??
I would REALLY appreciate it if you could answer this! lol
Thanks so much!
I hear you Katie! This is a tough one, even for me – and I can’t say I have completely overcome it. Just remember that you don’t have to have absolutely everything worked out before you date/get married – but you need to be confident in who you are, and that you can bring something good to your relationship. The temptation can be to settle or compromise if you don’t have a high opinion of yourself.
Keep your high standards and believe you deserve them – but then also believe that you have good that you can bring to someone. I believe the key is to stop focusing on self and start thinking about what you can do to improve yourself as a person (not just physically) and bring something beneficial into someone else’s life.
Essentially a low self-esteem comes from dwelling too much on self and failure. The remedy is to start dwelling on others and how you can improve. Look forward rather than backwards. 🙂
Some posts I wrote on self-esteem:
Can I Love Me? http://happyhealthyholyhome.com/2013/09/20/happy-and-holy-can-i-love-me-2/
Selfless Series #1: Looking At Myself
Hey Katie! I think you will always carry emotional baggage into marriage. You will never be perfect and have the BEST self-esteem ever. Unfortunately, we are human and Satan will always be whispering in our ears! The thing is to know who you are in Christ. Even if you aren’t in a place of truly believe it yet, you should be reminding yourself of who you are in Him. I think that’s what she meant by “healthy self-esteem”. If we hate ourselves and who we are then there’s no way to be able to love someone else. BUT if we know who we are in Christ, even though we are still works in progress, then we can hold onto those truths and be able to love someone else. Something else to think about when in a relationship: is he reminding you who you are in Christ? Does he tell you that you are loved by our Father and that He made you perfectly? If a man is not encouraging you in Christ then He is not the one for you. Hope this helps!!
Okay, so you hit the nail on the head with this!!! I totally love this! One of my pet peeves in the church is that sex isn’t talked about enough. It is avoided. All we learn is that sex is for marriage, don’t do it, you might get an STD. The end. I love when people are able to open up that door and talk openly about sex. We need to learn practical things about sex and abstinence BEFORE marriage so that we can have a healthy view of it and what to look for in a spouse. Totally scheduled this to be shared on my blog facebook!!! Blessing to you!!
Thank you! You are so kind. And I DEFINITELY agree with you. Sex needs to be talked about proactively and positively if we want to be a sensible and useful enough voice go down out the world’s influences!
Reblogged this on Sojourner and commented:
Some really good thoughts here!