Our culture constantly bombards us with unrealistic expectations of romance and sexual intimacy. However, Sharon Jaynes doesn’t think the problem is that the culture focuses on sex too much, but that it values sex too little. Sex is meant to be so much more than a physical act of carnal urges. It was created to be a sacred union between a husband and wife, designed by a holy, ingenious, and immensely generous God. Join us here as Sharon takes a deep breath and shares about intimacy as God intended, even though she admits to blushing all the way through. It’s a grace to welcome Sharon to the farm’s front porch today…
It was time to clean out my attic, at least some of it.
I pulled out several pieces of furniture to take to a consignment store, three lamps to take to a non-profit thrift shop, and many items that went straight to the trash.
In one corner sat memorabilia we’d saved from Steve’s parents’ attic years ago. That’s when I saw it.
Tucked under a dusty old wing chair hid a tattered box. I pulled back the musty flaps and slid out what appeared to be a letter.
I lifted the frail envelope and unfolded sacred words from my husband’s dad, Bruce, to his then girlfriend, Mary Ellen.
More than 500 letters written over two and a half years stowed away in a cardboard box …until now. I pulled out the fragile treasures one by one and read intimate words of sacred love from a man head-over-heels with his high school sweetheart.
The letters began as a soldier writing to the girl back home who had stolen his heart—one that he pursued with pen and ink. And then about a third of the way through, the letters changed. The envelopes were no longer addressed to Mary Ellen Boone, but to Mary Ellen Jaynes.
And for 65 years they were an inseparable matched set.
I held the letters in my hands and wondered, how did Steve’s parents do it? How did they keep the passion of their early years strong during the waxing and waning of emotions for over half a century? How did their grip of arthritics hands seem just as intimately strong as the kid’s sixty-five years before?
Why does the monotony of the matrimony cause what we thought was our soulmate to become more of a roommate? That certainly isn’t God’s intention.
God didn’t fashion the intricacies of man and woman for intimacy and then leave them to figure it all out on their own.
He painted a picture in the words of story—The Song of Solomon. And when we have the kind of passion that makes a marriage sing, I believe God cheers.
The Song of Solomon is much like those letters I found stowed away in my attic. It starts out with a bang as the Shulammite woman declares, “Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine!” (1:2 NLT).
Throughout their story we see growing desire, passionate lovemaking, a waning of excitement, and the stirring of it up again. As with my in-laws, there’s the intertwining of souls that only comes with the passing of time and shared experience. Reading it is as if we’re on tiptoes, peering into their windows and privy to some of their most intimate moments, even their honeymoon…and its beautiful.
And even though some of the words in the Song leave me slack-jawed and blushing like leaves in fall, I realize that God made sure the explicit picture of romance and sexual intimacy is in the Bible for a reason.
Yes, passion will ebb and flow, but it’s up to us to recognize when the low tides of intimacy threaten to ground the boat on the sandbar of apathy.
It’s as if He’s saying, this is how it’s done.
The Shulammite was a wise woman who took deliberate action to make her marriage sing with intimacy that was purposeful and playful. I envision her sauntering up to her husband as he’s overseeing the fields. She whispers in his ear, and her warm breath teases his neck. Tempting him. Flirting with him still.
Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages….
there I will give you my love.
The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved. (Song of Solomon 7:11-13 NIV)
And God whispers to us through her words, this is one of the secrets to lifelong love. Pull away. Be intentional. Leave nothing to chance.
Ten years ago, my mother-in-law’s beloved left this earth, and she was devastated. Like a candlestick made to be part of a pair whose mate had gone missing, her light was exponentially dimmer without her Bruce.
In the following months, Mary Ellen walked with the limp of a woman missing half of herself.
Her forced smile looked pained. It was difficult to watch as two intertwined souls became a single strand.
Four grown children and their spouses, plus a slew of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, took extra care to let her know that she was loved and needed, but it was never enough.
Six months after Bruce took his last breath, Mary Ellen joined him. I could almost hear her whispers as he came for her…
Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills…
My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Solomon 2:10 NIV)
And she did.
I think of Mom Jaynes when I hear a sister tell me her marriage is on the brink of divorce.
I think of how she would have loved to pick Bruce’s dirty socks off the bedroom floor one more time.
How she would have given anything to hear him blowing his nose too loud in front of company.
How she would have happily ironed his shirts yet again.
How she would have loved to hear his snoring rather than the silence of the night.
How she would much rather cook a meal for two than heat up a bowl of soup for one.
What would she say to those women who teeter on the brink of divorce, who huff in frustration, who turn their backs to their husband’s reaching hand in the night?
I think she would hold their gaze with a knowing look. Grasp their hands with an urgent plea.
I think she would tell them that marriage is worth fighting for.
It’s worth the hurt and the healing. The ups and the downs. The irritations and the celebrations.
I think she’d tell them that the big picture of marriage is created with the brush strokes of tiny moments—that both the dark and the vibrant hues are necessary for depth and beauty to emerge.
That the marriage of two imperfect people is the perfect recipe for God’s glory to manifest itself to a longing world.
That the legacy of a lifetime is too precious to toss away. Work at it. Give it all you’ve got. Start over as many times as you have to, as long as it’s with the same man. The best marriage you will ever have is the one you have right now.
She would remind us that marriage isn’t all about you and me. It’s about glorifying God. It’s about sacrifice.
It is about caring for the needs of someone else above your own.
It is about believing in the impossible when your hope is all but gone.
It’s about asking God to give you wisdom and then having the courage to change when He reveals the problem is you.
It’s about a covenant with the God who intertwines two souls with the thread of His presence.
I think she would say to forgive quickly and completely.
Don’t waste one day on bitterness or resentment.
Because time is precious and fleeting, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. All you have is today.
Sharon Jaynes is an international speaker, Bible teacher, and author of twenty-four books. She is the past radio co-host and Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and current writes for their daily devotions. Sharon is also the co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a ministry that seeks to cross generational, denomination, and racial boundaries for Christ. S
Lovestruck takes a daring look at God’s design for romance, marriage, and sexual intimacy based on the Song of Solomon. It takes us back to the Bible’s beautiful picture of romantic love in the Song of Solomon—a picture that is explicit but no illicit, sensual but not sordid, daring but not dirty.
It is as if reader gets to stand on tiptoes and peer into the lives of a bedazzled couple’s most intimate moments…and its beautiful. Sharon shows that true sexual intimacy as God intended it, is so much more than a physical act, it is the intertwining of two souls through sharing and time.
Women in every stage of a relationship will discover the secrets to pursuing and maintaining intimacy that makes God cheer! When we see the sacred blessings of sexual intimacy in marriage and understand God’s original intent, we find the freedom to enjoy and explore one of the Father’s most magnificent gifts.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]