Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Is Specific

This past Sunday was week 2 of our Pure Pleasure series through Song of Songs. We covered 1:2-2:7. If you would like, you can watch the full message below.

Pure Pleasure Week 2 from Life Bible Fellowship Church on Vimeo.

As part of the message, I emphasized that the man and the woman in the song are not simply singing about their desire for intimacy in a general way. The woman is not singing, "I want a man to hold me." The man is not singing, "I want a woman who will walk next to me." They are singing about each other. They compliment each other specifically. They are not just devoted to love in some abstract way. They are devoted to one another.
In this post, I would like to spend some time following up on this theme of love being specific. I believe that it has major implications for each one of us, whether we are married or not.

Indebted to Mark Driscoll
In preparation for this series, I listened to all ten of Mark Driscoll's messages from his "Peasant Princess" series through Song of Songs. His messages were excellent and were a great help to my preparation. Here are some phrases that Mark used to emphasize this idea of love being specific:
God didn't give Adam a type; he gave him a wife. God did not line up a group of women before Adam and say, "Which one do you like best?" God gave Adam a specific woman as his wife. If Adam would have said, "Well, I really like tall women with long legs," this would not have changed the fact that Eve was his wife.
Sometimes we can act as if we are victims of our own tastes and attractions. Many men complain that they are not attracted to their wives anymore. It is important to remember that God does not call us to be devoted to our tastes and preferences. He calls us to be devoted to our wives.
You're spouse is your standard of beauty. Because God does not place a value on our devotion of our own tastes, it is important that we don't measure our spouses against some objectified standard of our own making. This goes for both men and women. The grass can always seem greener on the other side. It is a recipe for discontent if you say to yourself, "If only she was thin like her," or "If only he was tall like him." Again, God treasures our devotion to our spouses, not to our fleeting and personal tastes.

Feed the Right Flame
Song of Songs compares love to a fire. The woman says,
   Love is as strong as death,
      its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
   It burns like blazing fire,
      like a mighty flame.
   Many waters cannot quench love;
      rivers cannot sweep it away.
          ---Song of Songs 8:6-7
Our God-given sexuality is a powerful thing. It is like a fire. Fire can be wonderful, and fire can be destructive. The key is that we must feed good fires and quench destructive fires. The good fire is the passionate love between husband and wife. The destructive fires are anything that get in the way of that passionate love. Too often we feed the fires of lust through pornography, fantasizing, and romance novels, and then we find that the fire in our marriages has died down. Many of us need to begin by starving out the destructive fires so that we can focus attention on rekindling the flame in our marriage.

Know Your Spouse
It is not a wife's job to make sure that her husband is attracted to her. But if a wife knows that her husband really likes a certain dress she wears, really likes her hair a certain way, or really likes a certain color of lipstick . . . she should use this information. God has given each wife a specific husband. While she should not feel the burden to make sure that his eye does not wander, she can love him by appealing to him in these ways.
Likewise, it is not a husband's job to make sure that his wife respects him and is attracted to him. But this should not lead husbands to become lazy, disconnected, selfish men who demand respect because "God commands it." If you know that your wife loves certain kinds of dates, or certain activities, or a certain configuration of facial hair, you can look to appeal to your specific wife in this specific way.
If you know that something is meaningful or attractive to your spouse, you can show love by giving them the gift of catering to them. This does not mean that we worship our spouse, but we also should be careful not to disregard our spouse.

Look to Attract Your Spouse
There is a danger in all of us, that we can desire to be attractive in a way that is general instead of specific. Women can desire to be beautiful to men in general. Men can look for admiration from women in general. This is very dangerous. This is often the first step to an affair. A woman begins to get compliments that she is not getting at home. A man begins to feel admired and respected, while he does not feel this from his wife. This is a recipe for infidelity.
A man should desire to be admired and respected by his wife. A wife should desire to be loved and desired by her husband. As you look to make yourself attractive, keep in mind what is attractive to your spouse.
In Song of Songs 1:12 the woman says, "While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance." In other words, she is saying that she spread the aroma of her perfume not while she was in the public square. She spread her aroma when she was in the presence of her beloved. She is not getting herself all dolled up in order to attract a man. She is beautifying herself in order to make herself attractive to her specific man.
One way to love your spouse is to value what attracts them to you.

Words Have Meaning
Finally, remember that words have the power of life and death. If you know that your wife is insecure about something specific, reassure her about that specific thing. If you know that your husband longs for admiration in a specific way, speak words of respect to him about that specific thing. Compliment the things that make your spouse unique. Generic compliments of affection and admiration are fine, but compliments that zero in on the uniqueness of your spouse carry greater power.

Love is specific. God loves each of us specifically. In marriage, we have the opportunity to mirror his love by giving specific love to our specific spouse.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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