Written by Norvic
Over the last few months, I’ve discovered a new favourite Bible book- the Song of Songs. It’s not one that tends to be preached or read as much as others, but as I’ve studied it, I’ve become convinced that it’s a book that deserves the attention of Christians today, especially living as we do in a world that is so confused about sexuality and identity. And as someone who struggles with gender dysphoria and crossdressing desires, I think it has a great deal to say to us especially. Over the course of three blog posts, I want to explore the themes of intimacy, beauty and delight as they are presented to us in the Song. I hope they will be helpful for us as we seek to live out our Christian discipleship day by day.
Before we look at the Song in more detail, it’s worth noting some of the background to it. Most scholars agree that the book’s author is Solomon, who became king of Israel after his father David. On the surface it is a love poem, in which a husband and wife speak of their romantic love for one another. For most modern readers, it is this celebration of human marriage and sexuality that is most prominent. The Song is certainly about human relationships, but to focus on this aspect alone is to risk missing what in my view is the most precious insight of the Song- the picture it gives us of Christ as the Lover and His people as His beloved. We are made for Him, and He for us. And His invitation to all of us is to go deeper with Him and experience that communion for which we long.
You may know an old hymn by Charles Wesley, the great hymn writer of the eighteenth century Revival. It begins, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly”.. If the first line doesn’t you feel uncomfortable, then the second one almost certainly will! For men especially, the idea of addressing Jesus as a romantic partner is strange. And yet it is a metaphor that the Bible returns to constantly, and gives special prominence to in the Song.
One of the distinctives that marks out lovers is their intimacy, or closeness. There is a special connection between a husband and wife in sexual union that nothing else can rival.
The Song opens with a picture of intimacy. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” exclaims the woman (1v2). It is passionate and unrestrained. And in chapter 2 we hear the Lover’s reply: “My dove in the clefts of the rock..show me your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely” (2v14). The beloved desires the Lover, but it is the Lover’s longing that speaks loudest of all.
Those of us who have experienced the thrill of romantic relationships will relate to this. Perhaps we can recall a time when we were in the first flush of love, and all we wanted was to see our beloved’s face and hear their voice. But if it’s true that these are the words of Jesus to His church, then these words take on a special significance. Jesus longs to experience intimacy and closeness with us. He says to us “Show Me your face, let Me hear your voice, for your face is sweet and your voice is lovely.”
In conversation with many of us who struggle with crossdressing desires, a common theme seems to be a fear of intimacy, often borne out of previous experiences of rejection or distancing. We are caught between a longing to know and be known, yet also a fear of what that might involve. Creating a female persona who is in fact ourselves can be one way we try to overcome it. Yet instead of leading to intimacy, all it does is drive us further away from our human lovers, and ultimately the great Lover we are made to know.
Any intimacy in this life, however strong and good, will at some level disappoint. But spiritual intimacy with Jesus will never leave us unsatisfied. He is waiting for us to encounter Him in the pages of His Word and the prayers of our hearts. He wants to hear our voices, and see our face, warts and all. And as we show Him our faces, He promises to show us His, and to transform our faces into His likeness with ever increasing glory.