“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed” (Song 4:12). There are so many wonderful realities and mysteries included in this one Bible verse. In an age where everything is so cut and dried, and people from every field give the false impression they have all the answers, this leaves room for something much needed in our lives: mystery and wonder.
The first wondrous thing is right in the middle of the Bible, this small book on sex. Yes. You heard me, sex. Plus, it is not the gratuitous television kind of sex. Instead, it is sex as the beautiful and wonderful thing God created and intended it to be. You may not be a fan of poetry or imagery, but to really do it justice, God employs these images to give us insight into the deeper mysteries of married love. The Song of Solomon is not talking about casual, hook-up sex. It is the description of the emotions and understanding of the “first love” experience between King Solomon and the Shulamite woman. Yes, it is pretty intense stuff. It also carries with it, though, a depth and richness. Thousands of years later, people still long for this kind of love life.
“A garden enclosed” is the image I want to capture your thinking. OK. Let’s go ahead and talk about sex. Wait a minute. When God wants to talk to us about sex, He wants us to see a garden, something beautiful with a purpose. What do you think of concerning a garden? It’s something beautiful in what can be an ugly and cruel world. Close your eyes and you can smell the fragrance the garden puts forth. Ah, yes, refreshing and distinct. Then there are the wonderful things intended to grow and be produced there. This is the Bible’s picture of marital sex: “a garden enclosed.” Let that capture your thinking and understanding about sex. It will help bring change in your life and the life of your spouse.
As someone living in the desert, I can assure you that gardens don’t just mysteriously grow and prosper. A garden means there is a gardener who is at work, and who watches over something of great value. Also, a garden gives us a testimony of beauty. Look around you. I mean really look around you. One of the compelling testimonies to the reality of a God is the presence of beauty. Things could look like a garbage dump, yet there’s incredible beauty reflecting the nature of the Creator. Finally, there is the purpose behind the garden, which is all the things intended to grow and flourish in that garden. Its goal is to feed and fulfill others. Isn’t this at the center of so many marriage problems today? Yes, it is selfishness. We take something God has made for others, for our mutual benefit, and we tend to make it all about ourselves.
If we are ever going to correct this human tendency, we must visit and understand the wonders of God’s garden of sex which He has given us. There are boundaries put in place for things to grow and flourish. In the Middle Eastern culture, you are not going to find vast, fruitful farmlands which go on mile after mile like in Kansas or Iowa. Instead, their gardens were generally the families’ growing places enclosed with a rock wall. The aim was to identify what was theirs, but also to protect the crops against the malady of intruders and varmints.
You may not like the next part, but please see, it is a garden “enclosed.” Along with the good news is the bad news of the garden, which God has enclosed for the protection and flourishing of a committed marital relationship. Let’s go ahead and admit it: we don’t like any kind of walls. The societal upheaval and moral revolution going on is essentially a sexual revolution; let’s do away with any kind of walls. So, instead of the sexual wisdom that promotes human wellness, people are fulfilling what Paul says in Ephesians 4:17-19.
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT
Pretty accurate description of our world: let’s ignore God’s wisdom (the Gardener) and instead think and live in a way that is “hopelessly confused.”
Daniel Heimbach in his book True Sexual Morality has said it best: “What is flooding the culture now is indeed enormous. The moral-spiritual crisis we are facing centers on sexual morality and is strategically bent on replacing biblical moral standards with something quite different. This rising moral revolution allows people to reject Christianity while continuing to affirm that sex and life have meaning and purpose beyond the material dimension. We are living now in a post-Christian, postmodern culture in which Christianity and paganism are warring over the moral-spiritual void left by modernism. And the center of this battle, the strategic ground that will decide who wins (at least for now, before Christ comes back) is sexual morality. So, if evangelicals plan to be engaged in this conflict with any intelligence, we must try to understand what the other side is doing.”
Whoever thought Genesis 1:27-28 would be viewed as an extremist position with poisonous presuppositions? Yes, it’s one of those walls He has established.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:27-28a NKJV
Wow! In those few words, God establishes the truth that you are not God, but created in the image of God. Do you want a radical idea? You’re not God. There it is. I said it. These words answer all the gender controversy today. They also underscore the purpose of marriage when He said, “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth.” He didn’t say just move in and start living together. Out of this profound union of two people joined in marriage was the survival of the species.
Don’t let outward appearances fool you. Hmm, let’s see. If you want to write a book on sex which will help and appeal to all kinds of people, let’s find someone who is church-going, but still relatively young and hip, with a hotness factor to them as the “face” of things. Instead, here are two people in their 70s talking to us about sex.
Does anyone see the contradiction here? Larry and Geri Priest came to me with their idea of writing a book on the Song of Solomon. Nothing is tame about the subject material at all. I love empowering people and helping them help others. How? By telling them yes.
I’m glad I had the privilege of telling them yes. In their book you will find the fruit of this in the description of the garden, a book on biblical sex. This is truly a beautiful thing. What you’re going to find is a focus on the Song of Solomon itself, with the truth to help your lives. You see, there is a Gardener that wants to help you and your spouse.
Plus, I don’t think I need to remind you that Larry and Geri have lived this out together for over forty years. They have also helped many, many others.
God has a message for marriages in this day of increased divorces and sexual perversion. God want to purge His church of wrong thinking as it relates to sex. It is easy to be persuaded by the teachings of this world through the media. God describes biblical sex in the Song of Solomon.