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Taking the lead

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!

For your love is more delightful than wine.

Songs of Songs 1.2

In considering the role of women in the New Testament, a reference to the Song of Songs in the Old Testament may be relevant... For a surprising aspect of this unusual gem is that it is the woman who initiates much of the action. Her lover responds willingly and others play their part in this most comprehensive of love poems, yet it is driven by the lover's desire for her beloved. Nor should its ascription to Solomon fool us. This may be a device to identify it with other examples of wisdom literature which belong to his reign, or it may be that he has inspired its composition in some way or another. His own life was at such variance with the exclusive bond between the protagonists in this lyrical oratorio as to deny his authorship however.

More squeamish scholars have tried to pass it off as pure allegory, yet the Song of Songs is unashamedly amorous, defying all such attempts to sanitise its meaning. At the same time, as human marriage is elevated to reflect Christ's love for the Church, so this middle eastern romance may inspire our delight in the source of all that is beautiful and lovely, namely God. The visceral nature of its expression reminds us that God made us spiritually in his image and with physical senses like the rest of his creatures. It is fitting and natural, therefore, that we should yearn for - and praise - him in every aspect of our being and in all our relationships.



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