The Most Frightening Book in the Bible
If you spend enough time going to church you will eventually hear this exchange:
Pastor: “What book of the Bible would you like us to study next?”
Church Member: “…how about Rev-”
Pastor: “-and don’t suggest Revelation!”
When I’ve been there for this back and forth, and it’s happened a few times, the little grin I’ve been hiding usually turns into a full fledged smile.
I’ve been involved with churches and Christian groups all of my adult life. Leaders always make a big show about Revelation, because it’s all about the End Times and the Anti-Christ and all that jazz. The book that’s full of predictions about the unknown? How mysterious and spooky.
The truth is, Revelation is a fairly straightforward book to study, because there is a wealth of resource materials out there regarding it. Any half-decent pastor could present a sermon series covering the high points with a minimal amount of effort, and every single member of his or her church would attend, sitting on the edge of their pew, eating up every word. The hype is too big for them not to.
So, stop suggesting Revelation. It’s been done, and it’s not the book that actually scares your everyday church leader. Do you know which one does? I do, and I’ll tell you.
The Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon is a seldom referenced book of the Bible that you’ll find somewhere just after Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. If you’ve hit Isaiah, you’ve gone too far. At only eight brief chapters it’s easy to overlook, but every word is worth reading. Twice.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
– Song of Solomon 1:2-4a
If you’ve never read Song of Solomon, you need to, especially if you’re a Christian. If you have previously read it but were following some study that claimed its an allegory to the mutual love of Christ and his church, then you need to read it again without any of that horse crap. There is nothing illustrative or allegorical here. This is a book about sex. A man and a woman excited about having sex with each other. Any other interpretation is a stretch that would make Mr. Fantastic jealous.
While the king was on his couch,
my nard gave forth its fragrance.
My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
that lies between my breasts.
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
in the vineyards of Engedi.
– Song of Solomon 1:12-14
There is no possible way to read that verse aloud and not have it sound dirty. Ben Stein could read it in his best monotone and almost everyone listening would be giggling and snickering at the imagery. And most of the listeners would know nothing about the cultural references. If you know a little more about that then it turns decidedly soft-core. There is no denying the book is about two lovers’ desire to
get busy consummate their nuptials.
As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
– Song of Solomon 2:3
Close your eyes and imagine a pastor – your pastor – standing up front in the pulpit reading that verse aloud, with all of it’s obvious implications, to his congregation. The row of gray haired widows who have known him since he was the fresh-faced youth pastor. The Elders who he discussed funding the Children’s Christmas Play with a few days before. The men and women who look to him as a source of moral and spiritual guidance every week.
Preaching on the Anti-Christ is suddenly not quite such the big deal, now is it?
An entire sermon around these verses would at least raise a few eyebrows, and it would probably keep the church secretary busy fielding phone calls for the next couple of weeks. An entire series on this book might get some pastors fired. The joy of sexual intimacy is not a topic you discuss in church.
That’s why the Song of Solomon is the most frightening book in the Bible. Few pastors have the courage to preach it for what it is, and that’s too bad. God created sex, and He inspired these verses. Obviously it is important enough that His followers should not shy away from discussing it freely, respectfully, and with joy. So, stop being so blasted cowardly about it.
I am a follower of Christ and my wife of fourteen years and I enjoy having sex together as often as we can.
There, now you’re not the first. Stand up and join us.
For any pastors who happen to come across this, you’re not the first either. The first series preached at Revolution Church when it launched in September of 2008? Pure Sex. A complete examination of every word in the Song of Solomon, with Q&A sessions. You can hunt it down here to listen. Just click on Filter by Series and choose Pure Sex (Song of Solomon). Pardon the audio quality, we were just starting out.
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