Monday 28 March 2016

Bible Book:
Song of Solomon

neither can floods drown it.” (8:6, 7)

Song of Songs 3:2-5; 8:6-7 Monday 28 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 114


There is an ancient and strong tradition of using eroticlanguage to evoke the passionate relationship between God and God'speople. The whole book of Song of Songs is in the form of a songcycle of love songs between a lover and his beloved. Probablydating from the third or fourth century BC, it was most likelywritten to be sung for entertainment and is a celebration ofintimate human experience. There are no moral imperatives tomarriage or procreation; love is treasured for its own sake.

It is easy to see, therefore, why over the centuries theJudaeo-Christian tradition came to see it as a metaphor for God'slove for God's people. However, in the Middle Ages anothertradition grew up, which used the principles of Plato's thinking,not Christ's, and therefore misinterpreted the writings of St Paulas dualistic: spiritual = good; physical = evil. As a result, sexwas condemned and erotic language banned in worship.

And yet, the incarnation itself is God's affirmation that thebodies God has given us are fundamentally good. And theResurrection is the ultimate fulfilment of this affirmation; Jesus'body was resurrected as a sign of the final state intended for allcreation. Resurrection puts back together divided realities: notjust body and spirit, but also male and female, sin and salvation.The ecstasy of the union of sexual intercourse that we find in Songof Songs is the perfect metaphor for such reintegration.

Indeed, it is more than a metaphor; healthy sex requires amutual vulnerability that can be the gateway to the divine. Deepspiritual encounter is also an experience of the same kind ofboundless intimacy in the union of divine love and human love. Suchdivine intimacy is available to each one of us.

It is in this love that life and death are also integrated,which is why the meaning of the Resurrection can be summed up inthis phrase from Song of Songs - "Love is strong as death". Lovegoes through death and is not destroyed, emerging the other side ina new life which encompasses and overcomes death.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about erotic language used in the spirituallife? Does it resonate with your own experience of God?
  • How do you feel about your body? In what ways is it a sign foryou of God's love?
  • Have you ever had a prayer experience that felt like beingdeeply and intimately loved? What happened?
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