ImageWhen I arrived at my first church, fresh out of seminary and still single, I was welcomed, loved and well-fed by a group of retired, yet highly active, ladies in the church.  About two-thirds of them were widows and they surprised me by asking what I thought about the new novel entitled The Thorn Birds.  I think that I blushed more in telling them my opinion than they did in hearing it. Once a week they would come to church, work on different projects and then have lunch and a Bible Study. When it came time to choose a Bible book for their studies they asked me if I would like to do the Bible book known as The Song of Songs. This is the book that many scholars regard as the courtship songs/poems between Solomon and his Shulammite wife (Song of Songs 6:13).

There are biblical scholars who believe that King David never got over his love – Michal the daughter of King Saul (1 Samuel 18:20-30). One can also say that their relationship is a tragic one because first Saul used the daughter to achieve his political purposes and than Michal found that the charismatic behavior of her husband reminded her of his lower class peasant birth (2 Samuel 6:21-23).

In the first book of the Bible, during the time of the patriarchs, it is interesting to read a description of the relationship between the patriarchs and their wives. Isaac was the child of promise to Abraham and Sarah. We are told that he loved his wife Rebecca from the moment that she arrived. Moreover, we find out that once the Egyptian king Abimelech was looking from his palace he saw Isaac caressing his wife.  Later on, we find out that Jacob is in love with Rachel, and his future father-in-law is asking him to work for seven years to win her hand in marriage. The biblical comment is "So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her." (Genesis 29:20).

However, for most of the people, like for my wonderful friends from the first church where I served, the most romantic book is the Song of Songs.  I think that most of the young people avoid it because its context is ancient and its metaphors are so strange to us. Yet, when we pass beyond these difficulties we find out how rich this book is in expressing the love of people both in courtship and in their marriage Some examples include verses1:2, 1:4, 4:7, and 4:9-10. Verse 5:16 says "His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." Verse 7:6-7 says, "How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm and your breasts like clusters of fruit."

Recently, I heard a counselor say that the best romantic or courtship story is between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.  Paul writes in Ephesians that Jesus Christ loved the church so much that He gave his life for her so that she will be presented without spot or blemish at the wedding day (Ephesians 5:25-27, 32). For over 2,000 years, Jesus is courting the Bride.  In the book of Revelation there is the greatest wedding that the world has ever seen.  The apostle John writes these words, "Halleluiah, for our Lord Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him the glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready" (Revelations 19:6B-7) Later we read: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9).

Our time is a one of redefining things. One of the major things that is being redefined is the concept of love. There are two foundational aspects according to Scripture. The first is that God is love and second is that He has created human beings to love one another. Courtship, or romantic love, is something that is given to us by God within defined contexts and parameters. Blessed are those who love as God intends us to do.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...