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.
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.