Song of Songs, Gay Sex and Passionate Me.

A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

I was at a spiritual retreat recently. I went along scared but pretty soon I found that I  had settled into terrified. Things did get better and I’m glad I went.

One of the things we did was a personality assessment called the Enneagram. I know, I know. Personality assessments have been done to death and they are not the answer to everything. BUT. Sometimes they can be the means by which great insights are gained. They can prove to be an unexpectedly delightful window into the soul.

In the Enneagram scale I am an 8. Someone who only knows me from my writing who has also been on the same retreat said to me after the weekend, “I bet you are an 8”. Lucky guess! See, 8’s are very passionate people. On the positive side , they can make inspiring leaders, and they are very concerned about justice issues, they are resourceful, straight talking and decisive. They are quick to defend and protect. On the negative side 8’s can be confrontational, ego centric domineering and controlling. They can easily bulldoze people who are in the way of what they want. At the extreme edge of the scale, 8’s can have murderous intent.

(HOW DARE she call me an 8! Man am i gonna give HER a blast next time I email.  What right has SHE to pidgeon hole ME like that! AN 8! INDEED! )

Sigh…..ok…..I’m an 8.  :(

This is an Enneagram diagram. Im only new at this…and I’m not sure what the lines mean…but it think it means that if i spent too much time with a 5 I  will probably kill them and then run to a 2 for an alibi. But I may be wrong.

Anyway,  the thing that gave me the unexpectedly delightful window into my soul was the aspect of passion. As I said, 8’s are passionate people. Passion in relationships is important to them. And there, dear reader is one of my big spiritual problems. Passionate Neil doesn’t always allows his passions to run free in healthy ways. He may stifle his passions. He may even, at times,  feel guilty about his passionate side. More importantly, passionate Neil has never really included his need for passionate love and genuine intimacy into his relationship with Jesus.

So, where in the Bible do we find the book of intimacy and passionate love? It is, of course, the Song of Songs. The book that has the M rating, the book that young Hebrew boys are not supposed to read until they are “of age”. So, I was sent into the wilderness (the garden out the back of the retreat centre) with a Bible and some instructions to find what God was saying to me in this love story.

Ive read the Song before…a few times actually. Different things have struck me each time. It is certainly an erotic story. The sensuality is always just below the surface in ways that, at times, are barely veiled at all. Ive heard lots of people talk about the “Breasts” verse in chapter 4 as if this were a bit naughty…but, man, if they stop there, they miss the best bits. Umm…reader…Are you ready to be just a little bit shocked?

From Youngs Literal translation…(sometimes the extra words that other translations put into the texts hides rather than aids the simple and beautiful imagery). The woman speaks…

Chapter 2:3As a citron among trees of the forest, So [is] my beloved among the sons, In his shade I delighted, and sat down, And his fruit [is] sweet to my palate.

4He hath brought me in unto a house of wine, And his banner over me [is] love,

5Sustain me with grape-cakes, Support me with citrons, for I [am] sick with love.

6His left hand [is] under my head, And his right doth embrace me.

7I have adjured you, daughters of Jerusalem, By the roes or by the hinds of the field, Stir not up nor wake the love till she please!

Note verse 2 and 6. She sits before him and tastes his fruit in her mouth…he holds her and  touches her, arousing her. All of the verses are “ripe” with all the imagery of Hebrew love making and fruitfulness.

And then at the end of Chapter 4. The woman speaks again…

16Awake, O north wind, and come, O south, Cause my garden to breathe forth, its spices let flow, Let my beloved come to his garden, And eat its pleasant fruits!

This time, on her invitation, the lover tastes the fruit of his beloved. How wonderful that the Bible speaks so plainly and simply and beautifully of oral sex, both male and female, and intimate caresses.

But the verse that pleases me most is Chapter 2:7 (above). In an age when women were chattels who could be used for sex as long as they were not in their “unclean” time of the month, in which case they weren’t even touched…in a time when women were routinely abused by men as spoils of war…here is a description of how 2 people in love express their passion. The woman, the beloved, has experienced love making as it should be. It was on HER terms. It was when SHE was ready. And she tells all the women of Jerusalem. THIS is how things are when you are truly loved.

And then there is Chapter 5. There are various ways of understanding this chapter. I have always taken it to be a dream sequence relayed by the woman. The door alludes to another opening she longs for him to enter. The drops that fill his head…on his (literally) thick course locks…what head is this? what drops in and on the head? As she dreams of him coming for her… wanting her… ready for her and her ready for him…she opens for him and then….(she awakes?). He is not there and she is left with a longing heart and fingers flowing “myrrh”.

Chapter 5:2I am sleeping, but my heart waketh: The sound of my beloved knocking! `Open to me, my sister, my friend, My dove, my perfect one, For my head is filled [with] dew, My locks [with] drops of the night.’

3I have put off my coat, how do I put it on? I have washed my feet, how do I defile them?

4My beloved sent his hand from the net-work, And my bowels were moved for him.

5I rose to open to my beloved, And my hands dropped myrrh, Yea, my fingers flowing myrrh, On the handles of the lock.

6I opened to my beloved, But my beloved withdrew — he passed on

Longing and desire and masturbation,  beautifully and poetically portrayed.

Wedged right between this passage and the previous one, where the woman invites her lover to taste her fruit, is this beautiful refrain, spoken by their friends.

Eat, friends, and drink;  drink your fill of love.

The love between these two, far from being a shameful and hidden thing, is celebrated and encouraged and even cheered on by their friends. This is how love should be…erotic and beautiful and respectful of the needs of the other, celebrated by the community and…PASSIONATE!

And there, dear reader, was God’s word to me.

Neil, I love you passionately. As this couple love each other, as they long to fill each other, drench each other in their love, so I long for you. That same intimacy…that same passion.

“Ahhh…wait on a bit”…says Neil…feeling more than a little uncomfortable “…Ummm…Jesus…you know that…ummm… you’re a bloke, right? and ..well, Im a bloke too…and…”

This isn’t about maleness and femaleness Neil. This is about the source of all love and passion and intimacy…this is about your relationship with the source of life and your desire for passion and intimacy in that relationship.

I started to imagine myself as a woman that Jesus is coming to take home as his bride…but that didnt work for me. Then I thought of Jesus as the woman. That was better. After all, God is all woman and all man. Then I thought about my gay friend and realised that he might have far fewer hangups than me in accepting this message. And then I thanked my gay friend because I realised that even 6 months ago I could never have received this message. My work on this blog and my growing understanding of the LGBT community has put me in a place where I was ready to hear something radical and wonderful and new.

In the end I really had to get over myself and my narrow views of sexuality and my homophobic impulses. Since when has genuine love…passionate, intimate love… ever been about where our genitalia should or shouldn’t go.  Genuine love is always about the other and every part of the other, inside and out…never demanding…always respectful…sometimes waiting…always giving and, in the giving of pleasure comes the reward of pleasure received and pleasure multiplied.

The retreat leader asked me to write something. From the passages that I had read he asked me to write a statement from God to me…

Here is the beginnings of what I wrote.

Neil. You are beautiful and wonderful and I ache for you. I long for you. But I will not force you. I am patient. I will wait until you are ready. But know for sure that I long to give you your hearts desire…

and the rest, dear reader, is private. But, in that statement, my passions were redeemed.