The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Friends and Lovers: Two Keys to a Happy Marriage

This is my lover, this is my friend (Song of Solomon 5:16).

Joel Beeke Book

In one power-packed sentence from Solomon's Song we have two keys to a joyful marriage.  

Do you see the keys? A happy marriage hinges on both partners being lovers and friends. Dennis Kinlaw in The Expositors Bible Commentary writes; The Song of Solomon is unabashedly erotic. Yet it is never satisfied to be content with the physical alone. A normal person finds the erotic ultimately meaningful only if there is trust and commitment, delight in the other's person as well as the body. The writer of the Song understands this. Our hero is her lover, but he is more: he is her friend.

Solomon's Song understands what our romance intoxicated culture in its songs, literature and art usually misses with its focus on the erotic. Sex is divorced from friendship. It is divorced from commitment.  The traces of the divorce are evident throughout our society. Abortion, for example, is one of the results of sex without commitment. It is often imagined in movies and music that the ultimate erotic experience would be no strings attached. 

The separation of the erotic from real relationship not only has resulted in abortion but is evident in divorce, pornography and the sense of meaningless and desperation that characterizes the expressions of our culture. The actual end of separating physical intimacy from real relationship is a diminishing of the joys of the erotic. That is why, as Dr. Albert R. Mohler writes, Pornography reduces women to objects of sexual attraction and the endless permutations of sexual behaviors available on the Internet are evidence of the insatiable desire for innovation and excitement that pornography produces. This, to a large extent, is what makes pornography such an expansive industry. Its product builds an apparently insatiable appetite for more, and then even more.

It is not hard to find studies that show that addiction to pornography creates an increasing appetite for more bizarre expressions of sex. This appetite cannot be satisfied. The person caught in the web of immoral passions keeps eating and drinking but they grow increasingly hungry and thirsty.

In the case of homosexuality one takes what is permissible and good--friendship between two members of the same sex and joins that friendship to erotic expression. The union is flawed because there is only one arena where sex and friendship are to be joined and in fact can flourish. That arena is in the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. What are divorced in the homosexual relationship are friendship and the appropriate context for sexual expression. That could also be said of adultery, fornication and any other inappropriate sexual expression.  The real divorce happens at a much higher and deeper level--the sinner divorces himself from God (or so he imagines). Yet he can never be rid of God. God must always be faced.  

Marriage offers the remedy for loneliness and for sexual hunger. In marriage alone is found the holy union of sex and friendship. In marriage alone those two are to be joined and in marriage alone those two thrive.  Both are needed. Both are required. Both are beautiful. Let the two never be separated. In marriage we properly delight in the other's person and body. In marriage we can rightly say of our spouse they they are our lover and our friend.