Do you read Bible passages such as these and find yourself feeling embarrassed?
‘How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.’ (Song of Solomon 7:6-9, ESV)
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul confronts certain pleasure-renouncing false teachers who believed that sex in marriage and eating foods freely were not the way that Christians should use their bodies. Paul called these false teachings demonic.
‘…in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods…’ (verses 1-3, ESV)
Here’s Paul’s response:
‘that [that is, the marriage and the food] God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.’ (verses 3-5, ESV)
For those who know the truth of the gospel and who dedicate everything to God, the sex of marriage and the pleasures of food are made holy. Sex and food are set apart from the sinful use of the world, and made pure and precious and beautiful by participation in the goodness of God.
We are not supposed to be embarrassed by the forthright sensuality of sexual love in marriage as the Bible portrays it. It is no shame that ‘a man’s ways are before…the Lord’ as his wife’s breasts fill him at ‘all times with delight’ (Proverbs 5:18-21, ESV), This is why God made her that way – and made him with those desires.
We are not meant to revel in his creation instead of him or more than him but because of him, and because there is something of him in all that is good and beautiful. The breasts of our wives are telling us about the glory of God, the goodness of God, the beauty of God, and more. We are to see it and worship him as we enjoy them.
The Song of Solomon is in the Bible, among other reasons, to make sure that we take seriously the exquisite physical pleasures between a bride and a groom as a picture of Christ and his Church. But the danger is that we only see the metaphorical dimension, not the physical one. Instead, we should let the Song stun us, that the kind of relationship God designed between man and woman as the image of the covenant-keeping pleasures between Christ and his Church can be described with words like these from husband to bride:
‘Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.’ (Song of Solomon 4:5-7, ESV)
Read these descriptions, look at your husband or wife – and worship God.