• In a climate of overwhelming questions about sexuality and gender, it’s important to know that the Bible has an entire book devoted to healthy desire and sex.  This was my FaithMatters column on March 23, 2024.


It’s the most important issue we never talk about. Even though porn consumption is mind-boggling and hook-up culture is normalized, churches have not kept up with modern sexuality. Why? Because the Bible has not given us sufficient guidance.

Except for condemnations of adultery and divorce, there are only a few positive passages about sex in the New Testament. Christianity is not equipped to speak confidently about sex because we lack Biblical support.

Or do we? Did you know there is an entire book of the Bible singularly devoted to sex, desire and intimacy? Unfortunately, this book has been poorly interpreted or simply ignored. But I have studied the Song of Solomon and discovered a powerful Biblical resource that should be the authoritative, sexy voice we need.

My theory of the Song of Solomon might be odd. I believe it is a choral anthology sung by Jewish teenagers at annual festivals that taught them how to have healthy marriage and sexuality. Imagine it as a cross between High School Musical, the erotic poems of Rumi and a Sunday School lesson. The potency of this approach is lost if the Song of Solomon is interpreted as a divine allegory or blushingly neglected.

Keep in mind that these songs, perhaps sung at weddings or festivals, were celebrated within a close-knit theocracy. Sex, family, marriage, faith and community were all part of life together. Pornography did not exist and pre-marital hookups would have scandalized entire communities. But sex and desire were not swept under the rug. Romance and passion were a vital part of life and marriage.

So what have I learned from my deep-dive into this ancient songbook of love and sex? I found 30 principles of desire that became integral to Biblical marriage and romance. Here are a few of them:

Expressions of love and desire were normalized for engaged teenagers. But while being alone together was unlikely, learning PG-rated expressions of attraction was essential. But notice the genius of this: God was clever enough to leverage teenage desire into crucial communication skills. If you can’t sneak off behind a grain pile, you learn to express your passion with words. And years later, when parents are sick or money is scarce, these couples already know how to communicate.

Women were expected to express their love and desire for their beloved. The protagonist of the Song of Solomon pursues her lover, without shame. She has sexual agency. The expressions of love and desire are mutual and valued. You will not find patriarchal “slut-shaming” in the Song of Solomon.

Family members and friends were openly supportive of the sexual desire these young couples had for one another. Expressions of attraction and anticipation were discussed and celebrated. Upon reading the Song of Solomon it is not hard to imagine families sitting around the table together laughing and talking positively (but not graphically) about sexual passion. Sex was good because YHWH created it to be good.