Those pesky interlopers
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Songs 2.15
The way this warning is expressed makes the perpetrators sound cute, like naughty little rascals! And what harm is a fox likely to cause in a vineyard: attack the grapes? If it was a hen-coop that would be a different story. The truth is that this is an allusion to the seemingly harmless intrusions which can kill a marriage, whether between a man and a woman or Christ and the Church. Indifference, temptation, busyness, ambition...
These seemingly trivial distractions, if ignored, can lead to unfaithfulness, rejection, abuse and, eventually, divorce. In church this morning we shall be considering the threat in its context amidst the enthusiasm, hesitancy, insecurity and power of love. It is important to maintain a sense of perspective because paranoia is as corrosive as complacency and can create suspicion.
Rooting out the foxes from our vineyards is more about keeping our own house in order than policing the responsibilities of others. Are we pure in our thoughts as well as in our behaviour towards our spouses, God, family, church, community? God alone is judge so we should not hasten towards finding fault other than with our own conduct. And then not to wallow in guilt but to catch those pesky interlopers!