Jump directly to the content
Beyoncé Vs. the BiblePhoto by Matt Sayles / Invision / AP

Beyoncé Vs. the Bible


Jan 31 2014
Was her sexy Grammy performance with Jay-Z actually good for marriage?

However, there are two important aspects of the Song that diverge from both "Drunk in Love," as well as some evangelical approaches to affirming marital intimacy:

It Promotes Intimacy

Although the Song is often remembered for its explicit language, a closer examination reveals that it's not explicit at all. Sure, the word breast appears a time or two, but most of the language is rather veiled. Pastor and Bible scholar John MacArthur believes that the Song is intentionally vague. Although it likely depicts a marriage relationship in which sexual intercourse is a part, there is no way to pinpoint a moment of consummation, or any specific sexual act. The language simply isn't that clear.

MacArthur concludes that to preach through the Song as though it is a sex manual (as he has accused pastor Mark Driscoll of doing) violates the Song's very design. The Song is about intimacy between a man and a woman, and it is written in a manner that guards their intimacy. We are not privy to all the salacious details, nor should we be.

In support of MacArthur's objections is the genre of the Song. It is a poem, not a history recorded in prose, and certainly not a coded message. It is not to be read as a "one-to-one relationship," as MacArthur explains. To read the poem as a manual is to miss the point and mangle the Song's purpose.

So yes, the Song is erotic, but not explicit.

It Promotes a Broad Standard of Beauty

One of the most curious things about the Song of Songs is that we don't know what the woman looked like. The chapters abound with praise of the woman's beauty, but little of it informs us about her actual physical features. We know she had dark skin (1:5), but we know very little else. Her beloved compares her eyes to doves (1:15), her teeth to a flock of sheep (4:2), and her breasts to two fawns (4:5). In other words, much is left to the reader's imagination.

Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III sees purpose behind the ambiguity. In his commentary on the Song he writes, "The woman is not a particular woman but stands for all women…[the Song] invites later readers to place themselves in the position of the woman and the man."

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
When Rural Traditions Get Hipster Cred

When Rural Traditions Get Hipster Cred

Food trends overlook the economic pressures of their origins.
What the Ebola Panic Reminds Us About Worry

What the Ebola Panic Reminds Us About Worry

Even faced with deadly disease, we can choose to live like God’s in control.
Why Do We Still Need Women’s Conferences?

Why Do We Still Need Women’s Conferences?

Q cofounder explains the purpose behind gathering as women.
School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback

School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback

Why this prayer-loving, evangelical mom won’t be joining the movement.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

What Does It Mean to Be Black-ish?

How “exceptional” African Americans still bolster our stereotypes.

What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Beyoncé Vs. the Bible