By Jimmy Siyasa
If, ever, any Bible scriptures, conceivably held God guilty- in the eyes of many Christians and heathens-for ‘sexual perversion’ and/or a sheer lack of “Christian euphemism”, none testify better than the Song of Songs.
The Canticles of Solomon, as the book is sometimes called, uses such “graphic imagery” of romantic love and sexuality, as to trigger a measure of embarrassment or shyness, even among the clergy, let alone Christians, who read the Bible.
It is only until a few decades ago that Bible scholars began to render keen focus “on the themes of human sexuality and marriage,” as noted by the author, Rev. Emmanuel Mukeshimana, Ph.D., whose publication offers some answers…
The paper entitled “Love and Sex: Applying the Song of Songs in a Global Cultural Context” makes for a good and deeply insightful read for all; scholars, clergy and the most simple-minded of “sheep”, who often run the risk of erotically interpreting the Song of Songs. The chapter appeared in the first issue of the 2022 Volume of The Global Anglican.
In this publication, the author sets the stage for a healthy interpretation of the scriptures in question by noting that “The Song of Songs teaches that Love and Sex are to be seen as the Foundations of marriage.” He recognizes love and sex as complimentary gifts from God, which are indispensable ingredients for a functional marriage.
He argues that scripture does not teach that the spirit is good and the body is bad; rather, both the physical and spiritual are part of the Lord’s good creation
In a similar vein, he juxtaposes contemporary and conventional courtship, while appreciating the uniqueness of each. Mukeshimana asserts that “the progression of their [Love and sex] relationship is a model for courtship and marriage today, by contrast with the traditional practices in many African communities, and with contemporary secular ways of doing things.
He calls for the recovery of “this model” urging that doing so will be relevant to the church and to theological educators for marriage preparation.
The controversy of Song of Songs
The scholar attempts to clear the moral mustiness associated with popular Christian and secular interpretations of the Song of songs by offering a background of its carnal interpretation that is linked to ancient Greek teachings:
“Historically, many interpreters have been embarrassed by the sensual imagery from the Song, largely due to the assumptions left over by the Greek philosopher, who viewed the body and physical pleasures as evils, things to be avoided or escaped for the good of the soul,” he writes.
On the contrary- away from secular interpretation- Mukeshimana, presents the purpose of the Canticles… as follows: “Song of songs was written as an affirmation of the goodness of love and sex within marriage,” he notes, arguing that “the church must not shy away from addressing and teaching every generation about love and sex because they are such important experiences in everyday life.”
In sum, the publication, [available here] justifies God as the author of love, marriage, and the gift of human sexuality, just as much as it exposes the erotic, distorted human view of sex and romantic love: It goes ahead to offer a healthy, truth-orientated, well-elucidated interpretation of the Songs of Solomon.
- God made a world that was originally “very good, commanding human beings to procreate and fill it (Gen. 1: 26-31)
- Sex within the context of marriage is good and holy, and a gift for spousal enjoyment, the furthering of; physical, spiritual, and emotional intimacy between husband and wife.
- Recovering this biblical model will be relevant to the church and theological educators for marriage preparation.
- Young people seeking guidance on love, sex, and marriage would find it useful, and it will also be valuable for individuals who are in a rush to make decisions about whom and how to love.
The author, Rev. Dr. Mukeshimana is a Lecturer at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology.