You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7
Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies.
Song of Solomon 4:5
Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle.
Song of Solomon 7:3
2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
3Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
4Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
5I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
6Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
7Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
8If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
9I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
10Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
11We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
12While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
13A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
14My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
15Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
16Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
17The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.
My beloved put his hand through the keyhole.
My heart throbbed for him.
– Song of Solomon 5:4
My. Beloved. Put. His. Hand. Through. The. KEYHOLE. That had me like “ 😃 Ooooooooh, thank you Jesus! Please, won’t you please send me my dear Mrs. soon, so I could love her sacrificially… and um, put my hand through the keyhole, among other things?”
Despite reading the Song before, I never caught this until I began posting the book here two weeks ago, as the words “through the keyhole” seem specific to the God’s Word version and a few others. I mostly use the ESV, which states “My beloved put his hand to the latch.”
The NIV is a little more explicit:
“My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening.”
And the KJV:
“My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”
“My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and my bowels were moved at his touch.”
No matter how one looks at it, the point is clear: God is no prude, unlike many professing Christians. Boy am I glad He doesn’t shy away from being graphic, yet He does so in a way that’ll go over the heads of most kids.
Here’s the verse in context (Douay-Rheims Bible):
“3 I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?
4 My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and my bowels were moved at his touch.
5 I arose up to open to my beloved: my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers were full of the choicest myrrh.”
Married Christian men, be nice to your wives – expecting nothing in return, of course. Side effects of such wife-focused grace include putting your hand – and other things – through the keyhole tonight.
If only you were my brother,
one who nursed at my mother’s breasts.
If I saw you on the street,
I would kiss you, and no one would look down on me.
2 I would lead you.
I would bring you into my mother’s house.
(She is the one who was my teacher.)
I would give you some spiced wine to drink, some juice squeezed from my pomegranates.
3 His left hand is under my head.
His right hand caresses me.
4 Young women of Jerusalem, swear to me
that you will not awaken love
or arouse love before its proper time!
The Young Woman’s Love for Her Beloved
[The chorus of young women]
5 Who is this young woman coming from the wilderness
with her arm around her beloved?
Under the apple tree I woke you up.
There your mother went into labor with you.
There she went into labor
and gave birth to you!
6 Wear me as a signet ring on your heart,
as a ring on your hand.
Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave.
Love’s flames are flames of fire,
flames that come from the Lord.
7 Raging water cannot extinguish love,
and rivers will never wash it away.
If a man exchanged all his family’s wealth for love,
people would utterly despise him.
The Young Woman with Her Family and Her Beloved
8 We have a little sister, and she has no breasts.
What will we do for our sister on the day she becomes engaged?
9 If she is a wall, we will build a silver barrier around her.
If she is a door, we will barricade her with cedar boards.
10 I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers.
So he considers me to be one who has found peace.[a]
11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon.
He entrusted that vineyard to caretakers.
Each one was to bring 25 pounds of silver
in exchange for its fruit.
12 My own vineyard is in front of me.
That 25 pounds is yours, Solomon,
and 5 pounds go to those who take care of its fruit.
13 Young woman living in the gardens,
while your friends are listening to your voice,
let me hear. . . .
14 Come away quickly, my beloved.
Run like a gazelle or a young stag
on the mountains of spices.
Song of Solomon 8:10 In Hebrew there is a play on the words “peace” (shalom), “Solomon” (Shlomo), and “the young woman from Shulam” (Shulamith).
[The chorus of young women]
7 How beautiful are your feet in their sandals, noble daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like ornaments,
like the work of an artist’s hands.
2 Your navel is a round bowl.
May it always be filled with spiced wine.
Your waist is a bundle of wheat enclosed in lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are like pools in Heshbon, pools by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like a Lebanese tower facing Damascus.
5 You hold your head as high as Mount Carmel.
Your dangling curls are royal beauty.
Your flowing locks could hold a king captive.
Solomon Longs for the Young Woman’s Affection
6 How beautiful and charming you are, my love, with your elegance.
7 Young woman,
your figure is like a palm tree,
and your breasts are like its clusters.
8 I thought, “I will climb the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters on the vine.
May the fragrance of your breath be like apples.
9 May your mouth taste like the best wine . . .
. . . that goes down smoothly to my beloved
and glides over the lips of those about to sleep.
10 I am my beloved’s, and he longs for me.
11 Come, my beloved.
Let’s go into the field.
Let’s spend the night among the henna flowers.
12 Let’s go to the vineyards early.
Let’s see if the vines have budded,
if the grape blossoms have opened,
if the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance,
and at our door are all kinds of precious fruits.
I have saved new and old things
for you alone, my beloved.
[The chorus of young women]
Where did your beloved go, most beautiful of women?
Where did your beloved turn?
We will look for him with you.
2 My beloved went to his garden,
to the beds of spices,
to graze his flock in the gardens and gather lilies.
3 I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
He is the one who grazes his flock among the lilies.
Solomon Desires the Young Woman More Than the Rest of His Wives
4 You are beautiful, my true love, like Tirzah,
lovely like Jerusalem,
awe-inspiring like those great cities.
5 Turn your eyes away from me. They enchant me!
Your hair is like a flock of goats moving down from Gilead.
6 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep,
sheep that come up from the washing.
All of them bear twins, and not one has lost its young.
7 Your temples behind your veil are like slices of pomegranate.
8 There are 60 queens, 80 concubines, and countless virgins,
9 but she is unique, my dove, my perfect one.
Her mother thinks she is unique.
She is pure to the one who gave birth to her.
Her sisters saw her and blessed her.
Queens and concubines saw her and praised her.
The Young Woman’s Home in Shulam
[The chorus of young women]
10 Who is this young woman?
She looks like the dawn.
She is beautiful like the moon,
pure like the sun,
awe-inspiring like those heavenly bodies.
11 I went to the walnut grove
to look at the blossoms in the valley,
to see if the grapevine had budded
and if the pomegranates were in bloom.
12 I did not know that I had become
like the chariots of my noble people.
[The chorus of young women]
13 Come back! Come back, young woman from Shulam!
Come back! Come back so that we may look at you!
Why do you look at me, the young woman from Shulam,
as you look at the dance of Mahanaim?
My bride, my sister, I will come to my garden.
I will gather my myrrh with my spice.
I will eat my honeycomb with my honey.
I will drink my wine with my milk.
Eat, my friends!
Drink and become intoxicated with expressions of love!
The Young Woman Dreams of Marriage with Her Husband
2 I sleep, but my mind is awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking.
Open to me, my true love, my sister,
my dove, my perfect one.
My head is wet with dew,
my hair with the dewdrops of night.
3 I have taken off my clothes! Why should I put them on again?
I have washed my feet! Why should I get them dirty again?
4 My beloved put his hand through the keyhole.
My heart throbbed for him.
5 I got up to open for my beloved.
My hands dripped with myrrh,
and my fingers were drenched with liquid myrrh,
on the handles of the lock.
6 I opened for my beloved,
but my beloved had turned away. He was gone!
I almost died when he left.
I looked for him, but I did not find him.
I called for him, but he did not answer me.
7 The watchmen making their rounds in the city found me.
They struck me!
They wounded me!
Those watchmen on the walls took my robe from me!
8 Young women of Jerusalem, swear to me
that if you find my beloved
you will tell him I am hopelessly lovesick.
[The chorus of young women]
9 Most beautiful of women,
what makes your beloved better than any other beloved?
What makes your beloved better than any other beloved
that you make us swear this way?
10 My beloved is dazzling yet ruddy.
He stands out among 10,000 men.
11 His head is the finest gold.
His hair is wavy, black as a raven.
12 His eyes are set like doves bathing in milk.
13 His cheeks are like a garden of spices,
a garden that produces scented herbs.
His lips are lilies that drip with myrrh.
14 His hands are disks of gold set with emerald.
His chest is a block of ivory covered with sapphires.
15 His legs are columns of marble set on bases of pure gold.
His form is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars.
16 His mouth is sweet in every way.
Everything about him is desirable!
This is my beloved, and this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem.
Solomon Is Charmed by the Young Woman
Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love.
Look at you! You are so beautiful.
Your eyes behind your veil are like doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats moving down Mount Gilead.
2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep about to be sheared,
sheep that come up from the washing.
All of them bear twins, and not one has lost its young.
3 Your lips are like scarlet thread.
Your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil are like slices of pomegranate.
4 Your neck is like David’s beautifully-designed tower.
A thousand round shields belonging to soldiers
are hung on it.
5 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin gazelles grazing among the lilies.
6 When the day brings a cool breeze and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense.
7 You are beautiful in every way, my true love.
There is no blemish on you.
8 You will come with me from Lebanon,
from Lebanon as my bride.
You will travel with me
from the peak of Mount Amana,
from the mountain peaks in Senir and Hermon,
from the lairs of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.
9 My bride, my sister, you have charmed me.
You have charmed me
with a single glance from your eyes,
with a single strand of your necklace.
10 How beautiful are your expressions of love, my bride, my sister!
How much better are your expressions of love than wine
and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice.
11 Your lips drip honey, my bride.
Honey and milk are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your clothing is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 My bride, my sister is a garden that is locked,
a garden that is locked,
a spring that is sealed.
13 You are paradise that produces
pomegranates and the best fruits,
henna flowers and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus, cinnamon, and all kinds of incense,
myrrh, aloes, and all the best spices.
15 You are a spring for gardens,
a well of living water flowing from Lebanon.
16 Awake, north wind!
Come, south wind!
Blow on my garden!
Let its spices flow from it.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and let him eat his own precious fruit.
The Young Woman Dreams about Searching for Her Beloved
Night after night on my bed
I looked for the one I love.
I looked for him but did not find him.
2 I will get up now and roam around the city,
in the streets, and in the squares.
I will look for the one I love.
I looked for him but did not find him.
3 The watchmen making their rounds in the city found me.
I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?”
4 I had just left them when I found the one I love.
I held on to him and would not let him go
until I had brought him into my mother’s house,
into the bedroom of the one who conceived me.
5 Young women of Jerusalem, swear to me
by the gazelles
or by the does in the field,
that you will not awaken love
or arouse love before its proper time.
A Description of the Royal Procession
[The chorus of young women]
6 Who is this young woman coming up from the wilderness
like clouds of smoke?
She is perfumed with myrrh and incense
made from the merchants’ scented powders.
7 Look! Solomon’s sedan chair!
Sixty soldiers from the army of Israel surround it.
8 All of them are skilled in using swords,
experienced in combat.
Each one has his sword at his side
and guards against the terrors of the night.
9 King Solomon had a carriage made for himself
from the wood of Lebanon.
10 He had its posts made out of silver,
its top out of gold,
its seat out of purple fabric.
Its inside—with inlaid scenes of love—
was made by the young women of Jerusalem.
11 Young women of Zion, come out and look at King Solomon!
Look at his crown,
the crown his mother placed on him on his wedding day,
his day of joyful delight.
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily ⌊growing⌋ in the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns, so is my true love among the young women.
Like an apple tree among the trees in the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. I want to sit in his shadow. His fruit tastes sweet to me. He leads me into a banquet room and looks at me with love. Strengthen me with raisins and refresh me with apples because I am weak from love. His left hand is under my head. His right hand caresses me. Young women of Jerusalem, swear to me by the gazelles or by the does in the field that you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time.
The Young Woman Remembers One Spring Day with Her Beloved
I hear my beloved’s voice. Look! Here he comes, sprinting over the mountains, racing over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, peeking through the window, looking through the lattice. My beloved said to me, “Get up, my true love, my beautiful one, and come with me. Look! The winter is past. The rain is over and gone. Blossoms appear in the land. The time of the songbird has arrived. The cooing of the mourning dove is heard in our land. The green figs ripen. The grapevines bloom and give off a fragrance. Get up, my true love, my beautiful one, and come with me. My dove, in the hiding places of the rocky crevices, in the secret places of the cliffs, let me see your figure and hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your figure is lovely.” Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that ruin vineyards. Our vineyards are blooming. My beloved is mine, and I am his. He is the one who grazes his flock among the lilies. When the day brings a cooling breeze and the shadows flee, turn around, my beloved. Run like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains that separate us!
Song of Songs 2 GW
The most beautiful song of Solomon.
The Young Woman Arrives in Solomon’s Palace
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Your expressions of love are better than wine, better than the fragrance of cologne. (Cologne should be named after you.) No wonder the young women love you! Take me with you. Let’s run away. The king has brought me into his private rooms.
[The chorus of young women]
We will celebrate and rejoice with you. We will praise your expressions of love more than wine. How right it is that the young women love you!
Young women of Jerusalem, I am dark and lovely like Kedar’s tents, like Solomon’s curtains. Stop staring at me because I am so dark. The sun has tanned me. My brothers were angry with me. They made me the caretaker of the vineyards. I have not even taken care of my own vineyard. Please tell me, you whom I love, where do you graze your flock? Where does your flock lie down at noon? ⌊Tell me,⌋ or I will be considered a prostitute ⌊wandering⌋ among the flocks of your companions.
[The chorus of young women]
If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the flocks, and graze your young goats near the shepherds’ tents.
Solomon Searches for the Young Woman’s Love
My true love, I compare you to a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of pearls.
[The chorus of young women]
We will make gold ornaments with silver beads for you.
While the king is at his table, my perfume fills the air with its fragrance. My beloved is a pouch of myrrh that lies at night between my breasts. My beloved is a bouquet of henna flowers in the vineyards of En Gedi. Look at you!
You are beautiful, my true love! Look at you! You are so beautiful! Your eyes are like doves! Look at you!
You are handsome, my beloved, so pleasing to me! The leaf-scattered ground will be our couch. The cedars will be the walls of our house. The cypress trees will be our rafters.
Song of Songs 1 GW
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.
1 Kings 4:29-25, 27-34 ESV
When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomonʼs fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the Lord your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.” Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. (The servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon brought gold from Ophir; they also brought algumwood and precious stones. The king used the algumwood to make steps for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. Nothing like them had ever been seen in Judah.) King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for; he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country. King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt.
2 Chronicles 9:1-12, 22-23, 26 NIV
Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my Lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.
1 Kings 3:23-28 ESV
If the second wisest man that ever lived exhorts you to “let her breasts inebriate thee at all times” then let her breasts inebriate thee at all times.
If only you were my brother,
one who nursed at my mother’s breasts.
If I saw you on the street,
I would kiss you, and no one would look down on me.
2 I would lead you.
I would bring you into my mother’s house.
(She is the one who was my teacher.)
I would give you some spiced wine to drink,
some juice squeezed from my pomegranates.
3 His left hand is under my head.
His right hand caresses me.
I’m sure many believers share his sentiment, sans the you’re-free-to-live-your-life-without-regard-for-that-ancient-book-called-the-bible mindset. In fact, I agree with believers on this point. It’s wrong to thumb through God’s Word in order to justify our every sex act and bedroom fantasy. Such irreverence reduces Scripture to a sex manual.
However, I’ve said several times that Couples Nursing is no mere sex act. Since it creates such a deep bond that it has spiritual ramifications (even non-believers have lauded it for being spiritual and soul-deep), it’s well worth exploring from a Biblical perspective. I think lifestyles ought to be defended biblically, specific sex acts or our favorite positions should not.
But before we go any further, let’s dispel any notions of Couples Nursing being a fetish.
The Oxford English dictionary defines fetish as “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.”
WebMD says “A fetish is sexual excitement in response to an object or body part that’s not typically sexual, such as shoes or feet. They’re more common in men. Many people with fetishes must have the object of their attraction at hand or be fantasizing about it, alone or with a partner, in order to become sexually aroused, get an erection, and have an orgasm.”
For many with fetishes, sexual climax cannot be achieved without the particular object or act.
Is Couples Nursing a fetish for some? Undoubtedly. Is it a fetish for most? Is it intrinsically a fetish? Well, given the fact that many ANR-interested folks never experience it, yet they get married and have children, I think the answer is obvious.
I’ve learned that the majority of the ANR-desirous have no problem enjoying sex that doesn’t include nursing. Therefore, it fails to meet the definition of fetish.
Note WebMD’s inclusion of the sentence “[fetishes are] more common in men”. While there are men out there who fetishize ANRs, the fact that a roughly equal proportion of women also greatly yearn for this intimacy destroys the selfish male fantasy theory.
I admit the fact that we all have our biases. For example, I mentioned the owner of the Christian site on sexuality who said he’s not into ANR. His bias was revealed when he gave his interpretation of Proverbs 5:19 to be along the lines of “let her breasts satisfy you in a sexually exhilarating but non-milky sense.” The encouragement to nurse from one’s wife would be inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, he opined. He didn’t elaborate on this perceived inconsistency but I’m guessing he believes that Couples Nursing contradicts the biblical mandate men have to be the leader in the marriage. I could see why he would think that, but he’s making an assumption.
He doesn’t realize that vulnerability/humility and leadership aren’t mutually exclusive. He seems to have jumped to a conclusion and likely never researched or consulted any men engaged in this lifestyle, or else he would get a first hand account from real men whose masculinity is never threatened and who don’t even come close to thinking about paraphilic infantilism or pedophilia at any time during the course of their Adult Nursing Relationship. Placing yourself in a position of vulnerability doesn’t necessarily diminish your status as a strong leader. Even Christ, despite His universal preeminence, was born in a manger, had no place to lay His head and although the only innocent man that ever lived, was brutally murdered. Jesus is my Lord and Master, with all power and authority, but for my sins, He didn’t think twice about putting Himself in a vulnerable position that to the undiscerning eye, seems totally foolish and inconsistent with His position of absolute supremacy. Frankly, that the God of the universe would humble Himself to die like a criminal for His sinful subjects seems crazy. It is utterly inconsistent with most parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, so the Jews took offense and rejected it outright, sometimes violently. This ANR refuser’s claims of inconsistency supports my conjecture that people oppose Couples Nursing probably due to psychological reasons. Most of us have been so socially conditioned that we’re unable to dissociate breast milk and babies.
I haven’t come across anything in Scripture that says breast milk is only for babies. The mental block against Adult Breastfeeding is psychological, not spiritual, in the same way people back in the ’50s had a psychological block against some now widely practiced sex acts- notably oral sex, and I’m sure even against kissing some centuries ago. Christ has set us free from such unbiblical taboos.
The tendency to relate adult breastfeeding with adult bottle feeding is unfounded. While some in the ANR community belong to a sub-community that celebrates infantilism (adult babies), I know from spending time researching and viewing hundreds of ANR dating profiles that fewer than 10% also include this mother-baby role playing sub-lifestyle in their nursing relationship.
I totally disagree with the ANR skeptic’s view of it being inconsistent with God’s Word. One of the most critical reasons for having an Adult Nursing Relationship is unity. What does the Bible say about unity? Genesis 2:24-25 tells us that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed,” and we’re reminded in Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Ephesians 5:29 says a husband is to treat his wife’s body like his very own and in v. 21, we’re commanded to submit to one another. Again reminding us of the one-flesh union and its gospel implication, 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 states: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” Song 7:8 states “may your breasts be clusters of the vine,” Song 8:2 essentially reads “we’re in an intimate setting and I’m giving him the juice of my pomegranate to drink,” Romans 12:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 12 tell us we are one body with many members. Hebrews 2:11 states “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all are of one. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” and in John 17:22b-23, Jesus prayed: “that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one.” Time and again, I’ve discovered that couples in an ANR report being a lot more united.
Marriage is an analogy of the gospel. A beautiful one, I should add. But it isn’t a perfect analogy. Husbands and wives aren’t literally Christ and the Church, respectively. Christ doesn’t need the Church like husbands need their wives. While men are called to be spiritual and financial nurturers, women are to be nutritional and emotional nurturers. Ephesians 5:21-33 implicitly says God intends nurturing in marriage to be a two way street. Yes, it’s extremely biblical and beautiful for men to be nurtured by their wives.
Rather than undermining divinely established gender roles by infantilizing the strong spiritual leader of the marriage, Couples Nursing upholds these roles. It fortifies men’s existing natural sexual attraction to breasts, women’s instinct to nurture, and both parties’ desires for marital intimacy.
If one knew every detail of said ANR skeptic’s life, a case could be made for the biblical inconsistency of almost all his actions. If we choose to approach life skeptically, we can probably label everything as being inconsistent with Scripture.
The opposite is also true. We all have our biases and are prone to using any means, especially the most authoritative, to defend them. I admit my inclination towards defending ANRs due to my personal interest. But to see if I’m perverting the grace of God into a license for immorality as Jude warns against, or if I’m twisting Scripture to protect my interest and further some ANR “agenda” of mine, let’s examine the objective biblical evidence. I implore you to click the links to follow and investigate the primary sources for yourself. Unfortunately, some ANR skeptics won’t click any links to these sites in order to do any Berean investigation, for fear of being confronted with what I believe is the truth.
The interlinear Hebrew Bible is available for anyone to read online. Logos Bible Software gives a detailed explanation of interlinear Bibles here. Proverbs 5:19 in the interlinear Hebrew found at scripture4all.org literally reads “nipples-of·her they-shall-satiate·you in·every-of season”. In other words, “let her nipples satiate you in all seasons.”
Screenshot taken directly from Proverbs 5:19 of Interlinear Hebrew Bible on Scripture4all.org (PDF)
Let’s review that. “Let her nipples satiate you.” Men tend to be attracted to women’s breasts as a whole. Mentioning a wife’s nipples sounds incredibly specific.
If the verse were meant to clearly steer us away from getting any ideas about nursing, why would Scripture 4 All use the word ‘nipples’ or a term whose root is to “drench, drink, drink its fill, drink our fill, fill, filled, made me drunk, satiated, satisfy, soaked, water its abundantly, watering, waters”?
Said Christian ANR skeptic objected to concluding that the word ravah, Strong’s number H7301 in Proverbs 5:19 refers to drinking anything, and as another usage worth exploring in the debate, he quoted Proverbs 7:18: “Come, let’s drink deeply (H7301) of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love!” The same word, he countered, yet nonsensical if it’s rendered in a drinking sense in this context, since love is obviously not a fluid to drink. Good counter argument, but he’s ignoring some inconvenient evidence. Besides Proverbs 5:19, the root word ravah (H7301) appears 14 times in Scripture. In every instance except 4, it has a denotation of drinking a liquid substance. 9 of the 14 are clearly about being bathed/satisfied/drunk with a literal fluid.
Consider these examples (emphases obviously mine):
The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters H7301 will himself be watered.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering H7301 the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So we see that whenever ravah is used in Scripture, the object is often a liquid like rain, snow, blood, water or river. Proverbs 7:18 is one of the few clear exceptions to the majority rendering, because 64% of the time, the word (mis)translated “satisfy” or “fill with delight” in most of our English Bibles’ versions of Proverbs 5:19, means:
I. to be satiated or saturated, have or drink one’s fill
(Qal) to take one’s fill
to be drunk, be intoxicated
to drench, water abundantly, saturate
(Hiphil) to saturate, water, cause to drink
At 64%, I find the confidence interval slightly convincing. “But ravah is used as a figure of speech, as swords don’t literally drink blood! You’re obviously misinterpreting the Hebrew root,” some might argue. For context, if we read Proverbs 5:15-20 and consider the seven other references there that use liquid, refreshing, nourishing metaphors to describe wives, the confidence interval is augmented by another 35%. All evidence considered, I’m virtually convinced that Proverbs 5:19 originally read “let her breasts satisfy you” both in a dry sense and in a sense of drinking a liquid substance.
If I were married and wrote my wife a letter, I wouldn’t want to annoy or confuse her with dozens of possible interpretations. I certainly won’t want her guessing and questioning my intentions.
17 Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time? 18 But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. 19 For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
-2 Corinthians 1
Similarly, when He wrote the Scriptures, God had only one interpretation in mind. He doesn’t vacillate between 30 different interpretations. The duty of the believer is to be in harmony with that sole interpretation. This is precisely why “Second Timothy 2:15 commands believers to be involved in hermeneutics.” In this video, Dr. John Piper does a great job explaining the basics of hermeneutics.
(The following link is a PDF) Song 8:2-3 on Scripture 4 all’s Interlinear Hebrew literally states “I-am-giving-to-drink·you from·wine the·compound from·juice-of pomegranate-of·me left-arm-of·him under head-of·me and·right-arm-of·him she-is-embracing·me” or when translated non-literally: “I am giving you wine to drink, the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand is embracing me.“
On the topic of biblical hermeneutics, Got Questions Ministries says “Any attempt to ‘spiritualize’ the number [fed by the loaves and fish] or to deny a literal miracle is to do injustice to the text and ignore the purpose of language, which is to communicate. Some interpreters make the mistake of trying to read between the lines of Scripture to come up with esoteric meanings that are not truly in the text, as if every passage has a hidden spiritual truth that we should seek to decrypt. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing Bible verses that should be understood literally.”
GQM also says “interpreting a passage contextually involves considering the context of a verse or passage when trying to determine the meaning. The context includes the verses immediately preceding and following, the chapter, the book, and, most broadly, the entire Bible.”
Let’s apply concepts we’ve just learned on Biblical hermeneutics from Got Questions to the Song of Solomon’s chapter 8, verse 2 as follows:
1. The first rule of biblical hermeneutics, we’re told, is to read literally. If the woman wants to feed her husband literal pomegranate juice, it’s rather odd that she prefers to do so in private, to avoid being subjected to neighborhood gossip. I find it rather juvenile to say “let’s sneak into my private quarters so I can feed you some pomegranate wine I just made.” Lovebirds past the puppy love stage are often eager to consummate their relationship in ways much more x-rated than sipping pomegranate wine – all on God’s schedule, of course.
2. Since the literal approach didn’t quite click, we proceed to read grammatically and (more) contextually, and we immediately discern that the wife isn’t referring to feeding her husband wine squeezed from literal pomegranates. Moreover, pomegranate wine isn’t made by simply squeezing it out of the fruit.
Therefore, she’s referring to something other than a literal pomegranate.
3. What is she referring to? Let’s re-read the verse in context. Again, she first expresses the desire to be with her man without being despised. In a private setting. She also longs for the ability to kiss him without engendering any gossip. In the next verse, she says “his left arm is under my head. His right arm is embracing me.” So we read that their bodies are touching and she’s giving him something to drink in a very up close and personal context.
4. With his left arm under her head and right arm embracing her, the husband can comfortably reach his wife’s head, neck, breasts, and her upper torso, not much else.
Further, the only organs that resemble pomegranates on a woman’s body, are easily accessible to her husband, produce a liquid that can be consumed in the intimate context of Song 8:2 are her breasts. Nothing else reasonably fits the scene depicted in the verse.
5. At this point, I believe it’s obvious she’s referring to Couples Nursing, but for the sake of completion, let’s consider the third and final law of biblical hermeneutics, “that Scripture is always the best interpreter of Scripture.” When we “most broadly [consider] the entire Bible,” we read in Genesis 2:24 that “[the two] shall become one flesh,” and in Ephesians 5:28-33: “husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”c This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself,” we realize that the Bible as a whole takes very seriously the one-flesh union of husband and wife, because it shadows the deep, abiding, organic, visceral, indwelling, invasive union Christ has with His bride. Also, remember that placing yourself in a position of vulnerability can paradoxically be the best way to show biblical leadership (side note: the Maccabees aren’t inspired).
6. Since nothing else reasonably fits the scene described in Song 8:2, and such an intimate, invasive, indwelling union between bride and Groom is very consistent with the rest of Scripture, she has to be referring to Couples Nursing.
Above: no matter how they’re positioned, with his left arm under her head and his right arm embracing her, a man’s face would likely be around the upper third of his wife’s body.
Unfortunately, I’m not 100% certain what the original Proverbs 5:19 says, although contextual evidence brings me extremely close to 100% certainty.
I honestly don’t know how one can twist “let her nipples satiate you” into anything except “let them satiate you in a liquid, milky sense.” I also don’t know how one can miss all the words in Proverbs 5 that describe wives as “fountains,” “springs,” “cisterns” and “wells” from which a man drinks “water,” “running water” and “streams of water.”
Again, Proverbs 5:19 is not 100% conclusive. Scripture 4 all’s interlinear Hebrew Bible reads “let her nipples satiate you.” Others say something like “let her breasts satisfy you.” This is where contextual reading and turning to parallel passages come really handy. I’m now convinced that Song 8:2 offers an even stronger apologetic. It’s interesting how each time I set out to dig into what the Bible really says about Couples Nursing to engage the ANR critic, I almost always uncover another truth that I myself wasn’t aware of, a truth that only ends up buttressing my own ANR convictions.
Furthermore, considering Bible translators’ proclivity for removing erotic material, all the anecdotal evidence of ANR’s ability to strengthen, stabilize, sizzle and steam up marriages, and the Christ-like character traits in ANR-interested women, in addition to the other two Bible verses that very strongly support a Couples Nursing interpretation, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that God intentionally left Couples Nursing as an option for couples seeking to deepen their intimacy.
This message appears as a chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ and expanded in the book, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know.
A smile crossed the king’s face as he dipped his quill into the inkwell one last time. With firm, smooth strokes the final lines flowed freely onto the parchment.
Pushing back from his writing desk, he sighed with satisfaction. The project had gone very well. This was some fine work. Rising from the chair and lifting his hands to heaven, Solomon the son of David offered thanks to the Lord. Here, complete at last, was his greatest song, one of the most important pieces of writing he had ever done. With satisfaction he lowered his eyes to the finished work spread out before him. Today, we call it the Song of Solomon.
It’s about sex.
In his lifetime, Solomon would produce 3,000 proverbs and more than 1,000 songs and hymns. The son of a legendary king, and a great king himself, he would be esteemed in Scripture as the wisest man who had yet lived. And his “Song of Songs” is nothing less than an explicit and unblushing celebration of sex within marriage.
To Solomon, this may have been simply a deeply personal reflection on love. But really it was much more than that. Because one day, as we know, it would be counted among the perfect and infallible words of Scripture, inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit, and intended God as a primary source of guidance for mankind until the return of the Son.
That’s right, gentlemen. Solomon’s Song of Songs is an entire book of the Bible devoted to the promotion of sexual intimacy within the covenant of marriage. It’s an eight-chapter feast of unbridled, uninhibited, joyous immersion in verbal and physical expressions of passion between a man and a woman.
Not a couple of verses. Not a chapter or two. God didn’t consider that enough. He decided to give us a whole book!
But can the Song of Solomon really be about sex? Isn’t the Bible about, well, spiritual stuff? It sure is. And as we’ll see, sexual intimacy within marriage has profound spiritual significance.
Let’s put ourselves back in King Solomon’s study for a moment. As husbands called to lovingly lead our wives, we need to try to understand this book of the Bible. And when you want to understand what a section of Scripture really means, you have to start with what the original writer actually meant. So let’s briefly consider this book through Solomon’s eyes.
When Solomon was writing his Song, what do you think he had in mind? The question is important because some Christians see Solomon’s Song as a book of symbolism. Men more godly than I, and a lot smarter, have believed that this book of the Bible, if it’s about marriage at all, is only about marriage in a secondary way. They see all its talk of love and longing as primarily symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the church, or Christ and the soul of the individual believer.
Maybe that’s how you see Solomon’s Song. If so, please understand: While I don’t share that view, I’m not attacking or ridiculing you or anyone else. But I am going to try to persuade you otherwise!
Marriage does, of course, point to a greater reality: the unique relationship that will exist forever between Christ and the church. But there are five reasons why I think the primary purpose of the Song of Solomon is exactly what it appears to be: to celebrate and promote intimacy and the gift of sex between a man and woman in the context of marriage.
Just look at all the sensual and erotic language in this book! It certainly looks like it’s about physical and emotional passions between a real man and a real woman. When Solomon was at his desk writing the Song, do you think he had in mind some symbolic, spiritualized relationship between God and his chosen ones? I don’t.
No New Testament writer (or Old Testament writer) suggests that this book ought to be understood primarily as an illustration of spiritual realities. This compels me to read Solomon’s Song according to the plain meaning of the words.
The Song is full of erotic phrases, yet our relationship with God is never portrayed in the Bible as erotic. The church certainly is the Bride of Christ. But although the marriage between Christ and his Bride will be many unimaginably wonderful things, it will not involve sexuality. Will it be extraordinarily and supernaturally intimate? Yes. Infinitely rewarding and fulfilling? Absolutely. But not physically erotic.
When describing our relationship with God, or when communicating our passion for him in prayer or worship, it’s right to use a vocabulary of love. But this language should never include anything erotic. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
When many of the passages from Solomon’s Song are viewed as symbolic statements, the results can get very strange.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine” (1:2). Now that sounds an awful lot like a particular woman saying she wants to be kissed by a particular man. But some commentators say that this verse is actually about a spiritual yearning for the Word of God.
“My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh that lies between my breasts” (1:13). There are commentators who somehow find in this passage a reference to Christ appearing between the Old and New Testaments. Guys, I’m no scholar, but I don’t think so!
“Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters” (7:7). Again, one commentator — a godly and sincere person, I have no doubt — suggests that “breasts” here refers to the nurturing effect that sound biblical teaching has upon the church. You know, that idea never occurred to me. When the man says to the woman that her breasts are like fruit on a palm tree, seems to me he’s talking about . . . her breasts!
Spiritualizing the Song of Solomon just doesn’t make sense. What’s worse, it denies to us the powerful impact that God intends for it to have on our marriages.
If marriage is immensely important to God (and it is), and if sex is a marvelous gift from God to married couples (which it is), it’s entirely appropriate for God to tell us in Scripture how to understand and enjoy it.
Would God leave us, his most beloved creatures, on our own when it comes to something as powerful and universal as sexuality? Would he give us such a gift without also giving guidance? Where is a Christian couple supposed to look for a model of God-glorifying sexuality? If not to Scripture, where? To Hollywood? Pop culture? Pornography?
We must not — cannot — take our sexual cues from the sinful impulses of ourselves or others. And we don’t have to. God has not left us in the dark. Scripture illuminates the path of marital intimacy. The Song of Solomon shines brightly, showing us the way to the best sex we can possibly experience.
So I trust my point is clear. I don’t believe the Song of Solomon is allegory, or typology, or drama, or an elaborate diary entry. I agree with the biblical commentator Lloyd Carr: “The lover and the beloved are just ordinary people” (Carr, The Song of Solomon[InterVarsity Press, 1984], 49).
“The Song of Solomon is about sex.”
Tom Gledhill, in his commentary, puts it this way: “The two lovers are Everyman and Everywoman” (Gledhill, The Message of the Song of Songs [InterVarsity Press, 1994], 23). That’s encouraging. The Song’s about your marriage and mine. These eight chapters of Scripture can speak to us, and in doing so, make a dramatic difference in our lives, for the glory of God.
There is a clear lesson at the heart of Solomon’s Song, a truth that threads through the entire book. I have sought to weave that same thread into this chapter. It is a truth that should be emblazoned on the heart of every husband. If you remember nothing else from these pages, remember this:
In order for romance to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body.
This, gentlemen, is a truth that can change your marriage. Nothing kindles erotic romance in a marriage like a husband who knows how to touch the heart and mind of his wife before he touches her body.
Too often we reverse the order. We touch her body prematurely and expect that she will respond immediately and passionately. Normally that’s not how it works.
Let’s begin now to examine Solomon’s Song in greater detail, studying specifically how these lovers model the use of communication to first touch one another’s heart and mind. After that, as we seek to apply the lessons of the Song, we will explore how, through study and planning, we can develop the creativity to lead our wives well in this area. Through this combination of communication and creativity we can unlock the passion already present in our wives and cultivate a fresh and growing passion for the rest of our life together.
They call it “intercourse.” But the word doesn’t refer just to sexual union. In fact, the first couple of definitions in my dictionary don’t refer to sex at all. They basically involve human communication and interaction of every kind, especially the exchange of thoughts or feelings. It’s only when you get to about the third definition of the word that any direct reference to sexuality appears.
On this point, the dictionary echoes the authoritative teaching of Scripture. A clear lesson from Solomon’s Song is that speech and sex are intimately connected. Duane Garrett writes of the lovers in the Song:
They relish their pleasure in each other not only with physical action, but with carefully composed words. Love is, above all, a matter of the mind and heart and should be declared.
The lesson for the reader is that he or she needs to speak often and openly of his or her joy in the beloved, the spouse. This is, for many lovers, a far more embarrassing revelation of the self than anything that is done with the body. But it is precisely here that the biblical ideal of love is present — in the uniting of the bodies and hearts of the husband and wife in a bond that is as strong as death. Many homes would be happier if men and women would simply speak of their love for one another a little more often. (Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, The New American Commentary [Broadman & Holman, 1993], 379)
I believe genuine romance, such as we find modeled in the Song, is meant to be a growing reality within every Christian marriage, not a dimming memory. And I am convinced that a key to consistent growth in romance is found in the regular use of “carefully composed words.”
You communicate with words every day, don’t you? For many of us, our days revolve around giving and receiving short bursts of information, whether in person or through some form of technology. Often the success of our careers depends on how good we are at coming up with words that communicate clearly, creatively, and with purpose.
So why do so many of us go home at the end of the work day — home to our wife, the most important person in the world to us — and suddenly stop communicating clearly, creatively, and with purpose? It’s no mystery. We can all be selfish and lazy. So let us heed Duane Garrett’s words: We could have a happier home if we would simply speak of our love for our wives . . . even a little more often.
Husbands, it is our privilege, joy, and God-given responsibility to romance our wives . . .really romance our wives. As we look to the Song for guidance in romance, we are immediately struck by the obvious, central role played by language.
Let’s look at one of the most remarkable features of the Song of Solomon — how the lovers speak to one another. Solomon’s Song contains the finest examples of carefully composed, romantic words I know of:
(He) How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. (She) How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant. (1:15-16, NIV) (He) You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! . . . You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits. . . . You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. (4:9-10, 12-13, 15, NIV) (She). . . at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover. (7:13, NIV)
This is miles away from simple chit-chat, or practicalities like kids, carpools, and church meetings. This is a category of communication set apart from the stuff of daily life, reserved for a unique and wonderful purpose. It is highly intentional, creative, provocative, erotic language. Its purpose is to arouse romantic passion — to inflame, slowly and intentionally, all the while honoring and delighting one’s spouse.
The whole book resonates with this sort of exotic, extravagant verbal foreplay between the lovers. Long before they begin to enjoy one another’s bodies, they excite one another’s minds with tender, creative speech. They model for us what it means to feelsexual passion and to articulate that passion.
The best sex begins with romance, and the best romance begins with the kind of speech we read in the Song of Solomon. It begins with “carefully composed words.”
In the language of these lovers is a variety of expressions that you just don’t hear too much anymore. Not only is it poetic. It’s a kind of poetry rooted in Hebrew culture one thousand years before Christ. To learn and properly apply the lessons of Solomon’s Song, we need to examine what these odd-sounding phrases really mean. Here’s an ideal example.
Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus. (7:4, NIV)
In Solomon’s day these were, without question, tender and heartfelt expressions of deep admiration for a woman’s physical beauty. And that is how they would have been received. A woman hearing those lines would have understood them to mean something like, “Your nose is lovely, a feature perfectly suited to the rest of your face. It adorns your face the way a tower gives breadth and character to the horizon. It transforms and compliments you wonderfully.”
So let’s not make the big mistake of simply parroting such phrases. If you try telling your wife that her nose is kind of like a big stone tower, it probably won’t arouse the specific passions you had in mind.
Here’s another passage. The man speaks to his beloved, saying,
I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh. (1:9, NIV)
The phrase, “My darling,” establishes a tone of tenderness and admiration right from the start. He then uses an analogy that we can thoroughly misinterpret. In commenting on the use of the word “mare,” one writer suggests the woman must have had very large hips, suitable for childbearing. Another indicates she is no doubt a fast runner! But more accomplished scholarship reveals the beauty and the vibrant sexual overtones of this high compliment.
It seems that in Solomon’s day mares were never used to pull the king’s chariot, but only stallions were so used, and always hitched in pairs. Yet in this picture, a mare has been harnessed to the chariot alongside a stallion. This puts the stallion into a frenzy of galloping desire. So this analogy has nothing to do with comparing her to a horse. Instead, it declares the overwhelming sensual impact she makes upon him. Her very presence drives him wild!
Here is a magnificent passage, packed with carefully composed words carrying a potently erotic intent:
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (4:1-7, NIV)
These verses begin with a declaration of the beauty of his beloved. But generalities are not enough for him, nor should they be for us. In this passage alone he praises seven different parts of her body, using clear and complimentary analogies. This is some serious creativity!
“Your eyes behind your veil are doves” speaks of her gentleness and tenderness. You see, he has studied her eyes. He has thought about what he sees in them. And he has made an effort to express that to her in terms that will bring her joy.
In describing her hair as “a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead,” he evokes the image of a distant hill, completely covered with black-wooled goats moving toward its base, so the entire hill seems alive. In Solomon’s day, this was a reference to thrilling, state-of-the-art special effects!
Her teeth are white and fresh, like newly shorn and bathed sheep that glisten in the sun. Best of all, “each has its twin” — no missing teeth! Three thousand years ago, that was a big deal.
He goes on to praise in specific, compelling, poetic terms, her lips, mouth, and temples. The word he uses for her mouth suggests that he finds her very speech a thing of beauty. One’s words reveal one’s heart. So here he is seizing an opportunity to honor her for godly character.
Gazing lower, he speaks in tender and radiant language of her neck and breasts, declaring with breathtaking delicacy and understatement his unmistakably erotic intentions. He then ends this love poem where he began, assuring her that, in his eyes, she is “all beautiful . . . no flaw.” Perfection itself.
And note this well, gentlemen. Throughout the passages in which one lover describes the body of the other — for the woman in Solomon’s Song also compliments her man — there are both beauty and brilliance. In these phrases, the most private emotions about the most intimate parts of the lover’s body are expressed appropriately, romantically, erotically, and tastefully. There is no medical language, no crudeness, and no profanity anywhere in the book. Every word is tender and sensual, and carefully composed to produce appropriate and passionate arousal.
In the man’s description of his beloved, notice that we have very few clear statements of fact. We know she had no missing teeth — a real plus — but there’s little else we can really nail down. The overall description we have of this woman is filtered almost exclusively through the man’s impressions of her. He even goes so far as to call her flawless.
Now, is he lying? Is he flattering her? Does he need glasses? Not at all. He is not describing so much what she looks like, but how he feels about her. There is a huge difference.
“You must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body.”
So many Christian husbands and wives have been deeply influenced by the fashion and advertising industries that we may have a challenge really understanding these descriptions. To a certain extent we have been conformed to this world, and it is compromising our ability to understand truth clearly. When we read these statements, we make the error of applying them culturally, not biblically. But as romance is biblically cultivated, these really can be very apt and accurate descriptions.
When the man says, “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (4:7, NIV), and when he calls her “my perfect one” (6:9), what’s going on is very clear. He is lavishing high praises upon his beloved in an effort to communicate her effect on him. These are expressions of his heartfelt evaluation of her. They are not based on cultural criteria. Others may not share his assessment of her beauty. But he doesn’t care. This is how he sees her, and together they rejoice in that assessment.
The same is true of the woman’s view of her man (see 5:10-16). She describes him in a way that few men could ever hope to deserve. Yet these are statements of integrity because they represent her personal assessment of him, an assessment informed by her exclusive, passionate love for him.
What we see in these compliments is simply a purified and well articulated form of something universally common to lovers: They view their beloved as uniquely special. You should be special in her eyes, just as she should be special to you — uniquely set apart, outrageously exceptional, with a value far above that of any other person, a value that others might even see as “inaccurate.”
There is, and should be, a marked difference between an emotional description of one’s beloved and an objective, factual description. A man may say to his wife, “My darling, you are five-feet seven-and-one-half inches tall, of medium build, with a birthmark on your left shoulder blade, and you are mildly allergic to shellfish.” In this, he may be entirely accurate, but he will not be telling her how much she means to him. And he certainly won’t be adding any fuel to the fires of romance.
Now, a lot of us think we’re doing pretty well if once in a while we say, “That dress looks nice on you, dear,” or “Hey, are those new earrings?” But I trust we’re seeing from Scripture that the standard is far, far higher. By all means, tell her when you think she looks nice, but recognize the world of difference between a simple compliment (however sincere) and phrases describing your appreciation and passion for her.
But I can hear you now: “C.J., if I can’t quote Solomon, how do I generate my own carefully composed words? I’m not a poet. I don’t even like poetry. And I’m definitely not Shakespeare.”
Well, neither am I. Where I grew up, if a guy revealed that he was interested in anything vaguely poetic, he would have been beaten up. Poetry was, by definition, effeminate and revolting. Real guys played sports. We talked about sports. And we read sports. Not poetry, and definitely not Shakespeare.
Just a few years ago, in fact, out of arrogance and deep ignorance, I said in passing from the pulpit, “Shakespeare was a bum.” One horrified literature teacher in our church very kindly offered to help me. A little while later, I spent an evening with a group of friends, including this teacher, watching a video of Henry V. As I watched, I came to understand something: it was really me who was the bum. Here was highly poetic speech, which I had once scorned, but it was incredibly powerful stuff, and not feminine in the least.
Solomon, too, was definitely masculine. Far from scorning carefully composed words, I should accept the lesson of Solomon’s Song and learn how to use them. Poetic language is a gift from God that can help me promote godly romance with my wife!
So let’s try to bring this home a little. How many times in the past week or month have you spoken to your wife in ways that she found to be romantically and perhaps erotically arousing?
Now, what are the things that would hold you back from doing this on a regular basis? What are the issues in your own heart that would prevent you?
Let’s try a few on for size. Maybe one of them will fit you.
“I’m not sure it really matters to her.”
Wrong. Remember: thanks be to God, our wives aren’t wired like men. The spoken word can be as alluring, provocative, and enticing to your wife as any visual stimulation you experience with her.
“I don’t think I can come up with anything creative.”
It might not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done. But if you will humble yourself and seek him for it, God is eager to give you that simple but effective phrase to say to your wife. The first such phrase will begin to break down the barriers of pride and self-absorption that hinder you. The second phrase will be easier. Then you’re on your way.
“It just seems silly.”
But it doesn’t have to. Find what’s genuine and works for you and your wife. Again, don’t let the poetry aspect turn you off. What sort of language appeals to both of you and comes naturally?
After I taught this material in our church, one man showed me a line he had written: “Honey, to me, you are like freshly shucked corn in a trough surrounded by hungry hogs.” Now, this didn’t quite fit my cultural background, but I was immediately able to encourage him. “If your wife is romanced by this, fantastic! If this speaks her language, and encourages her, and helps her understand your passion for her, then Solomon would be very pleased with you.”
The point is, guys, you don’t need to be a Shakespeare or a Solomon. You don’t need to imitate some specific style. But you should definitely follow the example given to us in the Song — by carefully composing words of a romantic and erotically suggestive nature that will express your love for her. As you do this, you and your wife will be drawn into a deeper and more satisfying relationship.
What changes, even something small, can you make this week to begin cultivating and expressing your passion for your wife?
Now, some of you may be more comfortable, creative, and effective when you communicate in written form. By all means, do so! But however you do it, I think you’ll find that after a little practice with carefully composed words, they will begin to come more easily. As you build the habit of delighting your wife with your words, the phrases can become more spontaneous.
Recently, Carolyn and I were in a mall while on vacation. We intentionally separated for a while, and as the time drew near for us to meet up again, I began searching the crowds for her. Finally, I caught sight of her. She approached and I embraced her. I said, “Love, I just want you to know that whenever I’m searching for you in a crowd, you are the only one who appears in color. The rest of the world is black and white to me.”
These spontaneous words didn’t come from any unique gifting in me. I think they were inspired by my study of the Song of Solomon. Words like these are far more effective than, “Hey, uh . . . you look nice.” So believe me, God is eager to help you grow in this area. That’s why there’s hope for every husband. Even those who call Shakespeare a bum.
Communication, as we’ve seen from the Song, is vital to the promotion of romance. We’ve also noted how, in order for your words to ring true — to be true — they can’t be patched together from convenient, onesize-fits-all phrases. All true romance is custom-designed. To produce phrases and actions designed especially for your wife, you must study her and then creatively apply what you have learned.
In this section, we’re going to get very practical about how to touch the heart and mind of our wives by creating and carrying out tailor-made plans for romance. But before we can creatively plan, we must first learn to study our wives.
Now, after that Shakespeare story, it will come as no surprise that when I was growing up, I hated school and studying. Well, I hated most studying. But I loved two local sports teams: the University of Maryland Terps — specifically, the basketball team — and my beloved Washington Redskins. Somehow I acquired an impressive body of knowledge about these teams, even as I continued to get lousy grades in school.
Why was that kind of learning so easy for me, when formal education was so hard? What made the difference?
No secret there. What we love, we want to learn about. And what we love to study, we come to love even more. That’s just the way God has wired us. I loved the Terps and Skins, so learning about them and growing in my zeal for them was a totally natural process.
I still enjoy following those teams, but my strongest passions now lie elsewhere.
The best sex begins with romance, and the best romance begins with “carefully composed words.”
My highest and greatest love will always be reserved for God, for when I was his enemy and worthy of his righteous wrath, in his great mercy he sent his only Son to live a perfect life and die a perfect death in my place. But after my love for God, nothing compares to the passion I hold for Carolyn, my wife.
It has been my privilege to be a student of Carolyn since before our engagement. As I have studied her — seeking to learn what pleases, excites, honors, encourages, refreshes, and helps her — my love for her has only increased.
And as I study her, I love to find new ways to please her. So I constantly keep my eyes and ears open for ideas to record. I’ve been known not to hear my name called at a doctor’s office because I was furiously scribbling information from a magazine article.
In my PDA I keep track of good getaway spots, ideas for dates, and many other bits of useful information. I know what to record because I have studied Carolyn — her life, her preferences, and her responsibilities — and have learned what makes her tick, romantically speaking. And I learned a long time ago that, no matter how amazed or impressed I am by an idea or thought, I almost certainly will forget it if I don’t write it down. These notes are my building blocks for creating and cultivating a more romantic marriage.
To learn how to touch your wife’s heart and mind, you must study her. Here are two lists that may be helpful. You can probably add to them.
Do you know how to surprise and delight your wife in specific ways in each of the following areas? Sex
Do you know how your wife is faring in each of these areas?
How much of this information do you have readily available to you, preferably in written form? How much do you really know about your wife in each of these areas?
Studying our wives and gathering information, of course, is only step one. We must not confuse being informed with being transformed. Transformation doesn’t just happen automatically or effortlessly. It is the fruit of application and action.
This is precisely where most men fail, including me. And it should be no mystery why, gentlemen. We have a tendency to be lazy and selfish. Genuine growth involves grace-motivated work, even extended effort. Our information gathering must be followed by detailed planning and follow-through. Romance is what you know about your wife specifically applied.
Here is a practice I’ve been observing for years and have found immensely helpful. You might want to consider trying it . . . or create your own practice. The important thing is that you have some pattern you observe on a frequent, regular basis. Otherwise, all your efforts to learn about your wife will have little actual effect.
Every week, on Sunday evening or Monday morning, I get away to the local Starbucks. The heart of this time is when I define what is most important for me to accomplish during the next seven days. (I do this with respect to all my roles, but here we’ll just focus on my marriage.)
With respect to Carolyn, I identify no more than three important goals I can accomplishthat week, and I plan them into my schedule. These may be a date night, a surprise I can bring her, a scheduled time to discuss an issue I know is important to her, or something else.
Outwardly, it appears there’s nothing special going on. I’m just another bald guy in a coffee shop communing with a piece of technology, a wrinkled sports page by my side. But I assure you, great fruitfulness flows from these times, regularly and faithfully invested. This is how the things that are most important in my life are defined and protected. This is how mere information leads to actual transformation.
This is where hope and desire begin to become reality. Without some practice like this, I simply would not be able to touch my wife’s heart and mind before I touch her body.
Time and energy, lovingly invested, will increase romance, which will increase marital intimacy. But what, exactly, should you plan for?
Ultimately, any detailed answer to that question must come from you. But in general terms, there are specific things that for most marriages, most of the time, can bring about genuine romance. Here are seven practical ways that I hope you will find helpful in touching her heart and mind before you touch her body.
Time away from the routine busyness of life is essential for the cultivation of romance in any marriage. A regular date night provides a couple with a reliable, peaceful oasis in the middle of a busy world.
At this point, three of our four children are married. But I’ve been practicing the priority of a weekly date night since before any of them were born. (That’s right. I said weekly.) If you have small children, I recognize that challenges can exist. Certainly there is the matter of child care, an area in which you should bear the burden of finding a solution if one is not readily available. But also, the maternal instincts of many mothers of small children can kick in hard, leading a mother to think that it’s more important for her to be with her children than to take a regular date night to grow closer to her husband.
If that is your situation, let me encourage you to lead with love. These are critical years for you to invest in your marriage relationship. If you have small children, your wife is even more in need of your care and attention during this season.
If you do not have a consistent date night now, my first recommendation is . . . do it! Do whatever it takes to establish a regular date with your beloved. And let me suggest that you take the plunge. Unless it’s simply impossible, go ahead and make your date night a weekly event, starting right now!
Now guys, date night is not about running errands or visiting the local mega-hardware store together. A date night is intentional. It has a goal and a purpose. The main goal is not so much to relax with each other, as to relate to each other.
Sure, there’s a place for the relaxation-oriented approach to dates once in a while. But don’t let that become your standard fare on these critical evenings. Over a period of months, you ought to be able to look back and see that your date nights have been drawing you together as a couple, not simply giving you an opportunity to get out of your home and relax at the same time.
And date nights don’t have to be expensive. A date can simply be a few hours together — walking in a park, looking into one another’s eyes while sitting in a coffee shop — and talking about anything and everything, from the boringly practical to the strikingly romantic.
One more important point, gentlemen. Our date night is my joy, privilege, and responsibility to plan. When Carolyn and I get in the car I don’t want to have to turn to her and say, “So, uh, where’d you like to eat?” I want to show her that she is important enough to me that I have planned ahead.
I try to speak with Carolyn from the office at least once a day. These don’t have to be long conversations. I’ll pick up the phone in a spare moment and call her just to say, “Hi, love. I just wanted to hear your voice. Is there anything I can do for you?” (Be sure to listen to her answer, guys.) And when our conversation is over, I may wrap it up with something like, “I love you with all my heart and I can’t wait to see you in a few hours. Bye.”
Calls like this can have a transforming effect on Carolyn. They allow me, in a matter of just a few moments, to touch her heart and mind.
The written word can be even more powerful than the phone call. How many times have you driven to the store, looked through perhaps dozens of greeting cards, and ended up with either no card or one that was less than ideal? Wouldn’t that time and energy be better spent in a quiet place crafting your own words? Let’s depend less on greeting cards and more on God’s grace to help us express ourselves romantically.
Romance can be communicated quite effectively through small gifts. They don’t have to be expensive, but they shouldn’t be exclusively practical, either. Giving your wife a dust buster or a waffle iron might serve her or make her life a little easier, but it does not qualify as romancing her.
Too many men try to make up for a lack of daily romance with the occasional extravagant gift, as if to apologize for the past and offer an excuse for the future. I would argue against the large, occasional, and expensive gift in favor of the small, frequent, and thoughtful (although, if possible, both are recommended!).
Buying perfume and clothing for Carolyn has been a joy for me over the years, as well as an adventure. When I present these gifts to her, I am always careful to remind her that she need feel no obligation to keep or wear them, and she knows I mean this (yes, I give her the receipt, too). I am thankful that romancing my wife has little to do with my fashion sense, and everything to do with the effort I make to express my feelings for her.
By the way, don’t rule out flowers. At one point, I thought that for Carolyn flowers had run their course. I don’t understand this at all, but flowers still have an impact on her. A dozen roses, or a large bouquet, are not necessary. A single flower speaks volumes.
If you are gifted musically, what a difference that can make. Play for your wife. Sing her a love song. Write her a love song!
But gentlemen, please exercise sober judgment about where you are gifted and where you aren’t. If, like me, you are not gifted musically, please don’t even try. In fact, if you decide to delight your wife with your nonexistent musical gifts — you didn’t read it here!
I’ll make this point again: time is absolutely necessary to the cultivation of romance and God-glorifying sex. Much time. Unhurried time. Undistracted time. While a date night creates an oasis in the middle of a busy week or month, a getaway creates an oasis in the middle of a year. When was the last time you took your wife away for at least two nights?
When Carolyn and I go away, we usually like to get out and do lots of things. We try new restaurants and search out interesting, off-beat locales to explore. But however much we see, and whatever activities we get involved in, I’m always careful to keep our focus primarily on one another. The heart of each of these events is our time alone together: talking, reading, making love, and taking long walks.
Is there a place your wife has been wanting to visit? What activities do you enjoy together? What’s keeping you from making those plans? What’s keeping you from saving the money for this very worthy investment?
Here’s a question to ponder during your weekly planning. “At this point in our life together, what would my wife define as a welcome surprise?” I ask myself that question all the time. I’ll start writing some ideas, and maybe not come up with very much, but somehow it gets the gears turning. Then the next day in the shower I get an idea, then another one three days later while driving. Or I might overhear a conversation in a store and it triggers a thought.
Every time I get an idea, I write it down. And it all begins with a simple commitment to try to surprise my wife. As a result, Carolyn lives with the constant and delightful tension that I am always planning some sort of surprise for her.
Study your wife.
Surprises make a huge and very romantic statement of your care. You can surprise her with any of the things I’ve mentioned — a phone call, a letter, a song, a gift, a getaway, or a date — or get creative and make up a whole new category!
But here’s a recommendation. Don’t “surprise” her on Valentine’s Day, or her birthday, or an anniversary. Sure, plan something for February 14. But a true surprise is unexpected.
So, in calling my wife each day — in writing her notes or buying her gifts or taking her on dates — I’m not just blindly following some recipe for a happy marriage topped off with good sex. Rather, I’ve studied what the Bible says, especially in Ephesians 5, about what it means to be a husband and a godly leader in the home, and I’ve tried to come up with practical ways to make my marriage actually be what the Bible says it should be. The result is the seven recommendations you have just read. For me, and quite often for others, these things work.
If they work for you, great. But if not — and you certainly don’t have to emulate them — create your own! What matters is that you are learning, leading, and loving your wife with creativity and intentionality. Because if you are not intentional in planning for creative romance, it just won’t happen.
Think back with me for a moment. There was a time when it was obvious to everyone that you were uniquely passionate about your wife. You couldn’t stop thinking about her. You constantly talked about her and to her. You were always eager to spend time with her, going out of your way to delight and surprise her, and you regularly spent serious money on her.
Is your passion for your wife still obvious to everyone? Is it obvious to her?
Here’s a way to find out. If you have children living in the home, ask your beloved this one simple question:
Do you feel more like a mother or a wife?
The answer may well speak volumes. In my book (of the same name as this chapter) I’m able to elaborate further on this and the other points made here. But suffice it to say that she certainly can feel more like a wife than a mother (or homemaker, employee, or professional). Whether she does, however, is primarily up to you.
Yes, the Bible calls us to a high, godly standard, guys. But it’s one we definitely can reach by God’s grace. We must touch the hearts and minds of our wives before we touch their bodies. As our words and actions touch their hearts and minds, much will be transformed — our wives will be transformed, our marriages will be transformed, and you will discover a marvelous and growing sexual passion, all for the glory of God.
How will you begin this glorious process? How will you touch your wife’s heart and mind?
Here it is, gentlemen. Time to talk about sex. For there comes a point when we have studied and planned . . . when we have spoken our tender and provocative words of love . . . when we’re ready to move beyond verbal foreplay. So let us prepare once again to learn from Scripture — where, beyond such foreplay, the lovers in Solomon’s Song definitely do move.
As this man and woman enter into lovemaking, they do not hold back, nor does Scripture refrain from recording intimate details of their mutually delightful encounter. Far from a mechanical recitation of “who touched who where,” we read of the extravagant indulgence of all five senses. Touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing are put to full use. Solomon’s Song teaches us that lovemaking is intended by God to be an elaborate and pleasurable feast of the senses — a holy immersion in erotic joy.
So let’s be inspired by this powerful piece of poetry — by the romantic, the sensual, the erotic, and the tasteful but specific descriptions of the physical relationship enjoyed by these two lovers. Solomon has given us the divine perspective on the gift of sex. Let’s explore that perspective, that with our wives we might experience its transforming effect.
There are numerous references in Solomon’s song to kissing. At one point the man declares, “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue” (4:10-11).
There was clearly some serious kissing going on here. The man delights in the kisses of his beloved — deep, long, passionate kisses. The “honey and milk” mentioned in this verse are symbols of fruitfulness, satisfaction, and pleasure. He’s a skillful kisser, too, so the enjoyment is mutual. His bride says of him, “His mouth is most sweet” (5:16).
These two are obviously very familiar with each other’s lips and mouths. They revel in the touch, tastes, and scents associated with their kissing. Their kissing is erotic, sensual, enjoyed, and apparently prolonged. In many marriages today, however, kissing is often neglected and can all too easily become routine. If your kisses rarely get much more passionate than a handshake, there is huge room for improvement.
So I suggest you take inventory. How often do you kiss? How long do you kiss? How passionate is your kissing? Ask your wife what she thinks of your kissing. What does she like or dislike about it? How does it compare with what is described here? How does it compare with your past kissing? How can you improve?
Don’t assume that kissing is a thrill that belonged mainly to some earlier point in your marriage. Kissing between a husband and wife is a unique expression of their passion for one another, and a unique means of cultivating fresh passion. In light of the divine encouragement found in the Song, let’s purpose to explore this rich gift of kissing.
Sexual touching and caressing of many kinds are found throughout the Song. “Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine” (7:7-8).
Touching and caressing are to be an ongoing part of the marriage relationship. How I touch Carolyn will certainly depend on where we are and what we’re doing. But if she’s near me, I’ll almost certainly be touching her in some way, even if it’s simply holding her hand.
A few years ago, after returning from a busy overseas trip that was full of meetings and responsibilities for both of us, Carolyn and I took an overnight together near our home. As we were checking out of the hotel, the man at the registration desk commented, “I noticed you two yesterday, and I’ve watched you today. You remind me of a couple of high school sweethearts.”
Now it wasn’t as if Carolyn and I had been doing anything inappropriate. We actually get those “sweetheart” comments with some regularity. When we respond that we’ve been married since 1975, it can open the door to a more meaningful conversation. What a great opportunity it gives us to testify to the grace of God in our lives!
Gentlemen, I want to encourage your frequent, imaginative touching of your wives (as appropriate given your level of privacy). Touching your wife in a variety of creative ways is not just a warm-up to your next sexual encounter. When practiced regularly as a genuine expression of affection, love, and passion it contributes to a closeness and intimacy that can help fuel your romance and sex life well into the future.
So talk to your wife about what she thinks makes for appropriate and pleasurable touching, in public and in private. In this process you may need to lead diligently, graciously, and with love. Do whatever is necessary to get beyond any embarrassment arising from pride that might be associated with such a subject. The two of you need to be able to discuss these topics openly and honestly. The better you learn how to touch her heart and mind, the better the two of you will be able to communicate freely and really learn how to love one another more and more.
In chapters 4 and 5 of the Song, Solomon gives us a glimpse of ultimate physical passion as this couple prepares to come together for sexual intercourse. The restraint that has characterized the book to this point no longer applies. The time has come for sexual union.
Their encounter begins with the woman inviting the man to come and enjoy her love. “Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits” (4:16).
In the next verse, the man eagerly responds. Even here, the poetry is discreet and restrained, bursting with passion yet completely devoid of vulgarity. “I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk” (5:1).
Myrrh, spice, honeycomb, honey, wine, milk — he likens her sensual delights to the most extraordinary luxuries available in that culture. Nine times he employs the word “my,” as one by one he claims her “choice fruits” as his own possessions. She is his, fully, completely, and without reservation.
Then, at the end of verse 1, we find this ringing affirmation of sexual indulgence within marriage: “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” Here, as elsewhere in the Song, Solomon employs a “chorus,” which stands outside the narrative as a witness and commentator. The chorus encourages the couple to enjoy lovemaking to the fullest, to be intoxicated with one another in their love. With God as Author of Scripture, can there be a clearer expression of the divine approval and encouragement of sexuality within marriage?
Let this chorus remind you that, when you make love to your wife, the two of you are not alone. God is present, and he is pleased when you and your wife find erotic satisfaction in one another. Indeed, he encourages you with the same unqualified approval with which they were encouraged: “Be drunk with love.”
Many passages of Scripture liken the experience of sexual intimacy to intoxication. (No hangover, either!) When was the last time you and your wife drank deeply enough of one another’s sensual joys to come to that place of sweet, godly drunkenness?
Because this is a chapter for men, we need to talk briefly about how selfishness can show up during lovemaking in a way that’s unique to us. Unless you just got married last week, you’re surely aware that effective lovemaking — the kind that really serves your wife — is not instinctive.
I’m talking, obviously, about that extremely common tendency for husbands to find satisfaction in lovemaking sooner than their wives. Does the Bible have anything to say about that? You bet.
If I am living in obedience to 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, I will take my thoughts captive during lovemaking, disciplining my body in order to focus primarily on giving to my wife sexually, rather than only receiving from her. (“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”) Indeed, any married person who rightly sees these verses as commands from God will bring to the marriage bed a servant’s mind-set that places primary emphasis on the sexual satisfaction of his or her spouse.
“Effective lovemaking — the kind that really serves your wife — is not instinctive.”
Are you a skillful and unselfish lover? Don’t assume you know what your wife likes, or what arouses her. She is aroused differently than you are. You must discover what arouses her — and what does not — by engaging her in extended conversation.
Making love is not simply a technique. It’s a key part of the marriage relationship. A couple that enjoys great sex, as biblically defined, is a couple that has good, open, honest communication about lots of things, including sex.
You need to lead your wife into conversations where you can ask very intimate, personal questions. Any reluctance we may have in this area, guys, is simply due to our pride, and the solution is simply to humble ourselves — before God and our wives. We need to approach our wives with an attitude of genuine interest, an attitude that says, “I want to be an unselfish lover. How can I serve you through this gift from God?” “What can I do, or what do I do, that arouses you prior to and during the sex act?” “Is there anything I sometimes do that you’d rather I not do?”
As lovers, many of us have plateaued, but none have arrived. We can all improve. To really find out what brings pleasure to your wife, you have to ask her.
Now, just to set the record straight, I’m not promising that this chapter will turn your every sexual encounter with your wife into a sweating, shouting frenzy. I am confident that a consistently God-glorifying approach to marital intimacy can improve any couple’s sex life significantly. But let’s keep in mind that we’re human, with human limitations. Moreover, eventually all of us will find that age is more of an issue than it used to be.
On the subject of sexual expectations, Douglas Wilson has pointed out that while some meals are steaks, and some are macaroni and cheese, both are enjoyable (Wilson,Reforming Marriage [Canon, 1995], 83). That’s wise counsel. So let your expectations be realistic, and enjoy.
Enjoy the humorous moments, too. More than once I’ve found myself in a situation where all I want to do for the next minute or so is stay very, very focused on what my wife and I are doing right now. But then this leg cramp shows up out of nowhere. Now, a cramp has a way of demanding your full and complete attention. So in about five seconds I go from the heights of sexual enjoyment to incapacitating agony. I want to keep my attention on Carolyn, but suddenly all my attention is on my leg. I want to keep my hands on her, but they have to go to my leg, too. What do we do? We laugh like crazy. And hope the kids don’t hear.
So you see, ultimately, sex is not a matter of performance. We’ve talked a lot about getting better at sex, but I’m not suggesting for a moment that your marriage should become a multi-decade quest for the ideal set of orgasms. While I do want to please my wife whenever we make love, sex is not primarily a goal-oriented activity. It’s an event, an experience. It’s about expressing passion to my wife, and receiving her expressions of passion for me. If a couple is living with a biblical understanding of and attitude toward sex, then every experience can be enjoyable and glorifying to God.
We close where we began, learning once more from the Song of Solomon. It’s remarkable how Solomon’s language, while obvious in its intent, is never biologically specific in a way that is either vulgar or clinical. As a result, while we can clearly say that the Song features some pretty provocative stuff, and that sexual intercourse is definitely included in the subject matter, we cannot point to a specific phrase and say, “Yes, look, right here, in thisverse the language clearly indicates that they are engaged in sexual intercourse.”
But that fact is itself full of meaning. Although sexual intercourse is certainly an ultimate expression of a married couple’s erotic encounter, it is not the outstanding central feature of the Song. The book is not about the act of sexual intercourse. Rather, it is about the remarkable nature of the couple’s overall relationship — in all its romance, yearning, desire, sensuality, passion, and eroticism.
These two desperately desire to be together, but not simply so they can experience sexual gratification. They want to be together because they are in love, and the sex they enjoy with one another is an expression of that love. Their mutual attraction is not primarily hormonal. It is primarily relational.
Five times in Solomon’s Song, the man calls his beloved “my sister, my bride,” or “my sister, my love.” She refers to him as “my beloved” and “my friend.” Their love is comprehensive and complete; they love one another on multiple levels. As a married couple, they have great sex because they love one another so completely, not the other way around. In a strong Christian marriage that glorifies God, a couple’s enjoyment of one another takes place on a long continuum of romantic affection and expression. Toward one end are things like “companionship” and “fellowship.” Toward the other end of the continuum are things like “playful intimacy” and “really serious sex.” But exactly where one category begins and the other ends isn’t always clear. That’s because solid Christian marriages are not primarily about one category or the other.
They’re about the entire continuum: the relationship itself.
This chapter has focused on the romance-and-sex end of the continuum — but without disconnecting it from any other aspect of the marital relationship. That’s what Solomon did in the Song. That’s what you should be doing, too, by God’s grace. Because it’s all about touching her heart and mind before you touch her body.
ABF, Adult Nursing Relationships, ANR, ANR apologetics, Bible, Biblical defense, Book of Proverbs, breast milk, Central argument, Doula, Doulos, Erotic lactation, Geneva Bible, Husband breastfeeding, Jesus Christ, Scripture, Sexual apologetics, Song of Solomon
One word changes everything
Centuries ago, English translators perpetrated a fraud in the New Testament, and it’s been purposely hidden and covered up ever since … the Greek word for slave (doulos) had been mistranslated in almost every English version- going back to both the King James Version and the Geneva Bible that predated it … translators … had obscured a precious, powerful, and clarifying revelation by the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly, the cover-up was not intentional – at least not initially. Yet its results have been dramatically serious … I have no doubt that this perpetual hiding of an essential element of New Testament revelation has contributed to much of the confusion in evangelical teaching and practice.
– Excerpts from Slave: the hidden truth about your identity in Christ by John MacArthur.
The mistranslation of one word completely changes how we see ourselves in relation to Christ. Doulos, the Greek word for slave is often mistranslated ‘servant’ or ‘bondservant’ in our English Bibles. This has a profound undermining effect on how we view Christ and our salvation.
Some compelling biblical evidence for Adult Nursing Relationships is found in Proverbs 5:19, which in the original Hebrew reads “Let her breasts satiate you at all times.” According to Strong’s Hebrew, the word translated ‘satisfy’ in v. 19 of many English versions is yə-raw-wu-ḵā, whose root is ravah, Strong’s number 7301, which according to his Exhaustive Concordance and other concordances, means to bathe, make drunk, take the fill, satiate, abundantly satisfy, soak, water abundantly, slake the thirst (occasionally of other appetites), drench, drink, drink its fill and fill.
Don’t just skip to the next paragraph. Actually click on the three links above, especially the third one, and read the evidence for yourself.
Just like the mistranslation of the word doulos might be a reason some people now think Jesus is their “homeboy”, one mistranslated Old Testament word has undermined the marriage relationship through the centuries.
To prevent heresy, it is of utmost importance that the Bible be read in context, so if we look at the fifth chapter of the Book of Proverbs in its entirety, with words and phrases like fountains, wells, springs, streams of water and drinking from one’s own cisterns, we observe that it speaks volumes of the fact that God has ordained wives to be wellsprings of refreshment to their husbands. Verses 18-20 read
18 “Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satiate you at all times;
be led astray always in her love.
20 Why should you be led astray, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of a foreign woman?”
The biblical evidence for Adult Nursing Relationships hardly gets any clearer than the preceding.
I think the preceding verses and Strong’s definition constitute sufficient evidence in any case for ANRs, but there’s even more biblical and extra-biblical evidence that strongly suggests God had a specific purpose when He created breasts and the institution of marriage.
Though his sexual greed was certainly not divinely endorsed, King Solomon, with his thousand wives and concubines might have known a thing or two about how to maintain passion in the bedroom. ABF appears to have been a common practice in his day, but translators most likely obscured the nursing reference, likely to make the verse more palatable to readers.
Song of Solomon 7:8 likens breasts to clusters of the vine. What’s the resemblance of breasts to clusters of grapes? None. Except they both produce a sweet liquid. In my opinion, this most likely refers to Adult Breastfeeding. (I personally prefer the term Couples Nursing, as it sounds far more biblical than the two commonly used terms, and I’d love it if we Christians could popularize it).
In Song 8:2, the bride says “I would lead you into my mother’s house, to the room of she who taught me. I would give you spiced wine squeezed from my pomegranate”, an obvious reference to Couples Nursing, since a pomegranate resembles nothing on a woman’s body except her breasts.
The PRIMARY reason God gave women breasts is to breastfeed. Not to feel sexy when stepping out showing cleavage, or to sell Victoria’s Secret bras. Simply to produce breast milk. Now, many would agree with this but assert that the milk is strictly for babies, which is why milk production starts during pregnancy. If breast milk were meant for husbands, they might add, God would cause wives to start lactating immediately couples become intimate. On the surface, this seems like a valid argument, but let’s remember that men are involved in the childbirth process. Without men, it would be 99.999% impossible for women to lactate naturally.
A biblically knowledgeable woman on ANRSpace said if breastfeeding were for babies alone, breasts won’t develop until pregnancy, then they’ll quickly shrivel up after the child is weaned. Women who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding would be as flat as an ironing board. I couldn’t agree more.
What if God wants husbands to continue long after babies are finished, or even induce before they’re born? Another ANR-loving woman opined “to have breasts almost all your life only to use for less than two years on each child is a waste.”
It’s also important to note that humans are the only creatures whose mammary glands permanently remain in a protruding state once developed. Even secular Wikipedia says “the constantly protruding breasts of the adult human female, unusually large relative to body size, are a unique evolutionary development whose purpose is not yet fully known… other mammals tend to have less conspicuous mammary glands that protrude only while actually filling with milk.” As an ANR-loving Christian, I felt vindicated reading that. Could it be the evolutionary purpose will never be known because there isn’t any? God’s sovereign plan is to confound human intellectual arrogance.
Verses like Proverbs 5:19, Ezekiel 23:3, 8 and 21 tell us that breasts also serve a secondary sexual purpose. So the only functions of breasts are to nurture and provide sexual pleasure, and the only way to combine both functions is to nurse one’s husband. As we’ll read further down, there’s no logical reason to keep the two separate.
I came across a believer online who reminds us that God could easily have created women to lactate only after giving birth. But the fact that lactation can be induced hints at some additional purpose for lactation, and the long time it takes to successfully induce and produce enough milk (sometimes up to 6+ months) weakens the counter argument that induction is only for feeding adopted babies, since these babies would likely starve to death or grow out of their need for milk by then.
In Matthew 21, Jesus Christ cursed the fig tree that didn’t bear fruit, and in the parable of the talents, the worthless servant who failed to multiply the only talent he was handed eventually got cast into the outer darkness, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth. God is extremely serious about His creation multiplying His gifts and bearing fruit. In His economy, nothing goes to waste. Not even our body parts.
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus prioritizing people’s physical needs over the foolish legalism of the Pharisees, as He healed the sick on the Sabbath. Contrary to what some modern-day Pharisees assert, verses that tell us to flee sexual immorality don’t command us to suppress our beautiful, God-given desire for physical intimacy. God, the author of the Law and Creator of our bodies, cares about the Spirit of the Law just as much as the letter.
1 Corinthians 1 tells us God frustrates the wisdom of the “wise”. He uses things that seem foolish and simple to judge them but save His people. ANR definitely seems foolish to most. Men doing something associated with babies, and women feeding men in the most intimate way possible flies in the face of all we’re told to believe in our ultra-modern world. God, however, cherishes child-like simplicity and submissiveness. Verses 27-29 inform us that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; He chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” The Reformation Study Bible has the following to say about verse 21: “This passage is filled with intense irony. Those who are wise according to the standards of the world think the gospel is foolish. But even the most ‘foolish’ thing about God is wiser than human wisdom (vv. 25, 27). God can use the simplicity of the gospel to demonstrate that real foolishness belongs to those who oppose Him (v. 27). The arrogance of human wisdom blinds unbelievers to the truth. Jesus thanked the Father for His good pleasure in hiding these things from the wise and learned but revealing them to little children (Matt. 11:25, 26).”
This “foolish” act brings unparalleled stability and unity to marriages, and non-Christians also make this claim. One woman noted how it’s the single most stabilizing force in her marriage.
More women would participate in ANRs if not for the submissiveness they imagine it requires from them. One Christian woman actually admitted to this being the deterrent for her. Initially shocked to learn about a sister in Christ nonchalantly admitting her aversion to submission, the very thing God requires of wives, I later saw this as a watershed moment. Perhaps the heart of the matter is that some women are in rebellion against God’s mandate to voluntarily submit to their husbands’ loving leadership. Another Christian woman listed one of her reasons as not wanting the commitment an ANR requires to interfere with her corporate career. So we have an unsubmissive spirit and selfish ambition. At the root of excuses made to avoid an ANR usually lies sin. These two refusers only strengthened my resolve to marry an ANR-desiring woman.
From their objections, it’s clear many Christian women are heavily influenced by our 21st century culture, rather God’s unchanging Word.
My experiences mostly relate to women who reject ANRs but I know millions of men are also turned off by the idea, and in their case, the two things responsible, I think, are pride and insecurity. Women aren’t the problem. Men aren’t either. The real problem is that we’ve all been systematically deceived ever since Adam fell.
Though the saying “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” isn’t found verbatim in the Bible, its origins lie in it. In the case of ANRs, we can say idle breasts are the devil’s workshop, and society confirms God’s take on idleness as we use breasts for all the wrong purposes, everything except their natural function. It’s actually quite troubling how society is desensitized to this inconsistency and cries foul when breasts are used for their God-given purpose, as illustrated in the picture below.
So if we agree that
then it follows logically that every married woman should be lactating or actively trying to lactate, which is logically equivalent to saying that after a woman’s first pregnancy, it makes more biblical sense to continue to use her breasts to serve her nearest and dearest, namely her babies and husband, rather than the false productivity of having them serve as dry, self-image boosting tools or advertising props. While reading an apologetics book, I learned about intrinsic versus instrumental worth. Human beings have intrinsic worth because we were made in the image and likeness of God. A screwdriver, on the other hand, only has instrumental worth. A lady who uses her breasts to nurture while strengthening her bond with the object of her nurturing realizes her breasts’ intrinsic worth while one who uses them to get attention, increase her self-esteem, or manipulate male co-workers is deceived into viewing her breasts as instruments, as means to an end. Sadly, many ladies have believed the enemy’s lies. Thank God for His Truth that sets them free.
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, roughly 90% of women on ANR dating sites are well-endowed. This strongly suggests that the more aware we are of our blessedness in any given area, the greater our craving to make use of those gifts with which we’ve been blessed. It’s simply how God has designed His creatures, to bring to Himself the maximum glory.
It is my belief that the longing to nurse her husband lies buried deep within every woman. Well-endowed women are leading the CN revolution because this yearning tends to be strongest in them.
I’ve come across a few ANR women who are birth doulas. ‘Doula’ happens to be the female form of the Greek term for slave discussed in the opening paragraph. This finding is extremely biblical, because the words doulos or doula appear throughout the original Greek New Testament. As John MacArthur reminds us in the aforementioned Slave, Christians by identity are slaves of Christ. We are also called to be servant-hearted towards our fellow human beings. I realized this ANR-doula discovery was no coincidence and was pleased with it, as I was to find out many women with ANR interests are involved in the nursing profession. It’s also no coincidence that these two biblical terms that seem suspiciously mistranslated are somehow connected.
There are several health reasons for engaging in an ANR. If female participants maintain their normal diet, they lose hundreds of calories daily. Since many women struggle with their weight and men burn calories faster, the idea is heaven-sent: transfer excess calories to your husband and he’ll burn them for you. To me, it appears to be a particularly efficient system, and there’s even more symbiosis occurring than that. God loves interdependence among believers.
Additionally, breastfeeding women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, and ANRs mean women are more mindful of everything they ingest, as they’re eating for two. What unspeakable intimacy and consideration. Even a nonbeliever remarked “the bond is so deep, it’s spiritual.” There are monetary benefits as well, because an ANR couple can save up to $100 a month on food. I know that’s a very different way to look at it, but the savings really do add up.
There is a personal health benefit for me. Among many health-promoting ingredients, breast milk contains something that directly helps in my healing. What’s more interesting, the health problem I have makes it more difficult to prepare meals. 🙂
That I never heard of any couple who tried an ANR for a significant amount of time and had negative reviews, but have only witnessed the opposite, is evidence that there’s something uniquely special about this bond. It appears that for the most part, there’s only a one-way flow of traffic into the ANR lifestyle.
I have noticed the plethora of biblical qualities in ANR women: they tend to be traditional, very comfortable with their femininity, homemakers, very family-oriented, warm, dearly love their husbands and include them in everything, generous, humble, honest, simple, self-giving (not takers), down to earth, nurturers, comforters, caring, sweet, positive-minded, voluntarily submissive, sexual, bold, and the list goes on. In short, I’m convinced that godly women who love ABF are extraordinarily well-rounded and make the best wives, bar none. They exude much inner and outer beauty. They’re the truly beautiful women of old that our society wants us to forget.
Speaking of being comfortable with their femininity, I came across two ANR bloggers that although well-endowed, hate wearing bras and only wear them when in public. I pondered that for a little while and eventually came to the conclusion that it’s a praiseworthy lifestyle choice. I’ve also noticed that some ANR women include their men even in areas that most people deem off-limits to husbands, such as assisting with childbirth. These women realize that the majority of men aren’t jerks and reject our culture’s insistence that all men are insensitive perverts.
Simply knowing she’s providing her husband something good, knowing she has a man who looks forward to literally and figuratively drawing the sweetness out of her, boosts a woman’s self-image in a very meaningful, non-superficial way.
Also, ANR wives preach the gospel without words. Breastfeeding isn’t always smooth sailing, but as Christ “took one” for His spouse on the cross, they also make sacrifices for the good of their marriage.
God loves the unity that ensues from an ANR. Genesis 2:24 says the two become one flesh. One couple said their ANR makes them more in tune to each other’s needs. Each time a CN wife’s heart beats, it goes to work for her husband, as it pumps nutrients throughout her bloodstream, some of which eventually wind up in his.
ANR fans tend to be very passionate people who desire the deepest intimacy. I think these qualities point to God because He is the ultimate exemplar of passion and intimacy. He doesn’t mildly hate sin or slightly love His redeemed. A Christian husband and wife should similarly model this passion, and I believe the Bible teaches that Christian couples should be as intimate as humanly possible in every sense: spiritually, physically, emotionally, sexually, psychologically, and in every other way because Ephesians 5 tells us this reflects the intimacy Christ has with the church, plus the perfect intimacy in the Trinity isn’t a bad thing to emulate. Dr. RC Sproul again comments on Ephesians 5:28-32: “A person’s union with his or her own body is intimate and permanent, and marriage creates a similar union (Gen. 2:24). Christ has joined the church to Himself through the bonds of the covenant He fulfilled, and this intimate union forms an analogy for Christian marriage.”
People just can’t seem to get over the hang up that breastfeeding is supposedly for babies alone. Babies are adorable, but bear with me for a second. Imagine for a moment that they don’t exist. Let’s further imagine that all women lactate all the time. In this scenario, we quickly see that ANRs would be inevitable, we also see that there’s nothing wrong with a man enjoying a sweet, nutritious fluid from his wife. Again, lactation can be induced, which means no pregnancy or babies necessary for milk to flow. Besides, real life ABF sessions are nothing like most people imagine them: a horny husband – who some picture wearing diapers – moving a hungry baby aside in order to help himself. In the majority of real ANRs, there’s no baby at all in the picture. No diapers either, just two married, consenting adults bonding on a level that can’t be matched by anything except the spiritual disciplines.
I’ll venture to say people who can’t leave babies out of the ABF picture are really the ones with difficulty suppressing intrusive thoughts. Those who insist on mentally inviting children into the ANR bedroom are the real pedophiles, the ones with some psychological attachment issues, not us. Please forgive my bluntness but I also really think ANR bashers are being prudes. I don’t think milk from a breast has ever killed anyone, or caused any psychological damage.
Sexual attitudes change over time. I haven’t done my research but I’m willing to bet there was a time in antiquity when kissing was seen as taboo and the mouth as being only meant for its basic functions such as talking and eating. More recently, as recently as the ’50s, oral sex was widely viewed as part of the domain of prostitutes, far beneath the moral standards of “righteous” folks. Times have really changed because it is now ubiquitous and is often referenced on TV shows and in song lyrics.
There is evidence ABF is gradually coming out of the margins of society. I think in fifty to a hundred years, it will be mainstream, like other formerly taboo forms of intimacy that are now commonly practiced.
It will finally be the norm again, as it most likely was in biblical times.
Although the Bible contains an abundance of references to breastfeeding, even multiple hints at Couples Nursing, to the best of my knowledge, Song 8:2 is the only explicit, incontrovertible, unassailable Scripture reference that encourages it. Proverbs 5, especially verse 19, and Song 7:8 are also extremely strongly suggestive. The marital stability, deeper bond, loving comfort, better sex and increased mutual empathy that ANR-practicing couples of all faiths often report provide extra-biblical evidence of the divine gift of Couples Nursing. Further, if we consider the whole counsel of God, His character, His perfectly harmonious triune intimacy, His just desire to be glorified, His command that His creation be productive, the great love He has for His children, how much He values loving-kindness and warmth among Christians, how much He values good sex among married Christians, and weigh all those in light of the positive reviews ANR-practicing couples always give their relationship, we see that an Adult Nursing Relationship is nothing if not biblical and Christ-honoring.
P.S.: This blog as a whole aims to defend ANRs from a biblical standpoint, although this specific post you just read and this one have that exclusive goal. Throughout the blog are more biblically compelling reasons to engage in an Adult Nursing Relationship only within the bonds of marriage. I invite you to read all posts on Christ-centered ANR for more ANR evidence from Scripture.