Song of Solomon and its Impact on Young Adults
“Many of my friends are engaged and planning their weddings, already married, or even married with kids. You could say I was getting a little impatient with God. I know that he has a plan for me, but I kept coming back to thoughts of ‘everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?’”
If you’re a young adult, chances are you can identify with the sentiment expressed by Calvary Church 20-something Maria Sturmfels. God. Sex. Marriage. Those three words alone have sparked enough dialogue and debate to fill the world’s largest library and then some. So it’s no surprise that sifting through what the Bible has to say about these realities presents some unique challenges in our modern age.
Enter Song of Solomon. Written by King Solomon, this poetic book exhibits some of the most candid language found in Scripture when it comes to God’s design for romance and relationships. It chronicles the story of Solomon, his lover, and their journey through relational desire. Some of us bristle at the thought of reading it in public, let alone by ourselves. That anxiety tells us something, though. It suggests that our view of sex has been shaped by culture, both Christian and secular, in a way that’s created some negative connotations. You don’t have to dig that deep to realize that discovering God’s design for love requires a lot more than Google searches and casual dating.
One theme of the book in particular shows up multiple times throughout the story. On three occasions, Solomon’s lover gives us this imperative:
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (2:7, 3:5, 8:4)
What does this mean for us today? In an effort to reclaim a more biblical understanding of love, Pastor Lionel Young unpacked Song of Solomon over a five-week mini-series entitled “Love Song”. From married couples, to singles, and everyone in between, he faithfully challenged people to adopt a biblical understanding of romantic love. “I believe with all my heart that God wrote a book,” Young says. “And in this book he talked about everything. He created sex and romance and he told us what to do with these wonderful gifts. But it’s clear to me that we are becoming increasingly confused when it comes to topic of sex and romance.” His words have not fallen on deaf ears.
Jessica Lewis, another young adult at Calvary, expresses how the sermons and Life Group conversations have helped encourage her in some tangible ways. “Through the Love Song series, I learned that being single is okay. In fact, it’s good. Yeah, everyone says that, but I didn’t really believe it. So I made a vow to God and to myself that I would concentrate on Him, and it’s made a difference in how I think.”
She isn’t the only one who’s been impacted by the Love Song series. Fellow Life Group member Aubrey Baker has experienced encouragement as well. “For me, the constant thought of how I can be content with where I am right now and where God will take me has been the most important thing I’ve learned. When I am seeking him first for everything, I will be rewarded in ways I cannot even begin to imagine.”
When it comes to relationships, the weight of societal expectations can be crushing. Many of us feel defined by what our relational life is or isn’t. But the freedom that comes from an identity anchored in Christ liberates us from all of that. It’s why Jesus calls us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Where that order is reversed is where we find discontentment and frustration. In the words of Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis, “Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in. Aim at earth, and you’ll get nothing.”
These young women are giving voice to the tension felt by a lot of young singles in the church today. They know that romantic love is inherently good and that God has created it for their enjoyment. But in a culture that equates relationship status with relational maturity, trusting God with that part of the future can be hard. Love Song has opened up a new perspective for people, though. And it’s an unmistakable sign of God’s Spirit at work in their hearts. “I’m not wondering if the guy I walked passed in the library is the one I’m going to marry anymore,” Jessica Lewis shares. “I need to be in a relationship with God before I’m in a relationship with a man.”
Prior to Love Song, Sturmfels wrestled with the residual pressure of having friends that were engaged or married. And while the circumstances haven’t changed, her perspective on them has. “Once the Love Song series began, it was like God was giving me a sign. Listening to Pastor Lionel each week and our discussions in Life Group really made me realize that God does have plan for me, and that plan will happen in his time. I’ve turned over a new leaf and started to live my life without all of my worries and fears weighing me down.”
God has placed good desires in all of us. First and foremost for himself, but also for his gifts. So when Solomon’s lover implores us to not awaken love until the right time, it isn’t a calloused command designed to stifle our emotion. It is a loving reminder that our deepest desires for love can only be realized once we’ve surrendered them to the God of perfect love. And it’s a journey we embark on together. For our good and for His glory.