New Series for Summer 2017

romance 16-10

When you walk into a ferocious headwind, you instinctively lean into it. You scrunch up your eyes and clench your jaw with determination. You plod forward, fighting for every step. But those heading in the opposite direction bound along effortlessly. They seem footloose and free, but their reckless lack of control could lead to a nasty fall. Whom would you choose to follow?

A powerful wind blows across the moral landscape of our world. It relentlessly presses people to ignore God’s design for marriage and sexuality. Many allow that wind to carry them along. Though their recklessness will inevitably lead to emotional (and sometimes physical) injury, they still celebrate their freedom.

That morally lax lifestyle is nothing new. That wind has blown through every culture throughout history. Our study of the book of Judges showed us the consequences it had in Ancient Israel. The men of Gibeah tried to rape a Levite who stopped to spend the night in their town. He cowardly gave them his concubine, whom they then viciously abused and left for dead. Ultimately, civil war resulted and the tribe of Benjamin was all but destroyed.

But some people choose to resist. They lean into that ferocious headwind with a scowl. They condemn immorality and immodesty in the name of Christ. They commit themselves to the culture war, and call for society to maintain standards of decency. But as they do so, they may unknowingly cross a line. Their negativity about immorality can make all sexual desire seem impure. The mention of it may prompt strong feelings of embarrassment, shame, and guilt.

Ironically, those attempting to defend the Bible can unwittingly undermine its teaching. The Bible does not support such prudery. Several passages in both the Old and New Testaments present romance and sexual desire in a positive light. The best example is the Song of Solomon.

The Song of Solomon poetically describes the relationship between a young couple. It follows their story from their first meeting through their wedding and beyond into the struggles of married life. Church leaders in past generations interpreted the song as an allegory of God’s love for Israel, but nothing in the book supports this view. A more natural reading is to see it as God’s celebration of the blessings of romantic love.

We will begin an eight-part study of the Song of Solomon on Sunday, July 16. One of the benefits of studying the song is that it will help us develop a godly perspective on romance. It will keep us from floating along with the world’s permissiveness, while it also keeps us from that prudish overreaction.

Let’s pray that God will use this study to strengthen marriages, to prepare young people to make godly relationship decisions, and to impart wise perspective to everyone who has an influence over the next generation.

– Bryan Craddock

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