I think this cartoon accurately shows some of the… chaos… shall we say? that is induced by the Song of Songs. For some reason, its hard for most people to believe that the Song of Songs is really about sex. Why is it so hard to take it at face value?
Both Jews and Christians have tried to make this about more than sex. Which to me seems strange. If God created everything, he created sex. He told Adam and Eve to multiply the earth. I think we all know how babies are made. (Hint: the stork is not involved). So if God created it and blessed it, why is it so hard to believe that a book of the bible talks about sex, and is completely devoted to romantic love? Obviously I think we should put our grown up pants on and be able to talk about the Song of Songs as a sexual text without blushing and giggling.
One of the great things about the Song of Songs is that it, more often than other books of the Bible, is appreciated and studied as literature, as poetry. But as any one who studies literature will tell you, there is not right or wrong way to interpret a work. I do believe that there could be more to the Song than just sex. The adaptability of the text is quite remarkable! Just like other Biblical interpretations, there can be more than one meaning to a text.
I learned some time ago that the “Western” way of thinking is very different from the “Easter” mindset that these books were written in. In Western thought, things are black and white, yes or no, either or. If you were to ask a Jewish Rabbi in Biblical times “Does the text mean A or B” He might respond “Yes”. It can be both A and B or A or B separately. It is not exclusive, but inclusive, the text has layers of meaning and multiple meanings that can work separately or together.
All that to say that I do not reject the long-standing belief that the Song of Songs might be about more than sex. As strange as it may sound to relate romantic love to God’s love for his people (be they Israelites or Christians), it would not be the only or the first place that God’s relationship with his people was talked about in such a way. Jerusalem, Israel, the Chosen People, the Christian Church are often personified in the Bible as a woman, a bride, with God and/ or Christ as the bridegroom. So its possible that Song of Songs just takes this allegory a little further romantically than we’re comfortable with.
But the purest form, or purpose, of sex is as an expression of love. So it could help us to understand God’s love for us through the metaphor of physical affection. But I also think that its ok and even good (especially considering the destructive views of sex that religion has espoused) to think about the Song of Songs as a celebration of romantic love.