Each Sunday this fall, our congregation is sitting with the Song of Songs (or Solomon) and listening for the ways this racy, erotic, playful love poem seeks to awaken our love for God and to arouse love within marriage and dating. We're calling the series of sermons, "Romancing God: The Art of Prayer and Love." It's a daring enterprise, trying to hold together the summons to spiritual and relational love, but in the history of spirituality, it's just these two that must go together if we're to experience the health and vibrancy we seek. Here's a link to a recent sermon on the second chapter of the Song of Songs. And below is a little sample of the message that focused on flirting and fantasy (with God and your beloved):
First, here's a little about the flirting commended by the text. Note the playfulness. 2.1: she speaks, minimizing her beauty, fishing for a compliment. 2.2: he’s not too dull to notice and artfully (and wisely) replies. 2.3-4: she reciprocates, returning and magnifying the compliment and is aroused by the interchange. (In this we see that love requires a game, playfulness, flirting takes tact). 2.5: she becomes faint and asks her friends to give her nourishment; passion burns energy. 2.6: she yearns in her heart for him, and then warns her jealous girlfriends against pushing for love prematurely; wait, ladies, it’ll come to you (2.7).
In these days of seriousness, rocky marriages and romances need to recover the playfulness of flirting. Flirting keeps you in the game, and when you’re playing the game, the relationship is interesting. Here flirting is different from being a “tease.” A tease seeks to arouse in order to hold power over the other. Teasers make bad lovers; they are unwilling to give themselves away for love. They only want attention. But flirting is a genuine invitation to dance, a gesture of openness, a willingness to give-in to love. In romantic flirting, there’s a tenderness, a warmth, a humor, a vulnerability. This kind of flirting is a blessing extended to the other.
So, why has honest flirting within marriage virtually disappeared? Why does marriage often seem like the end of courtship rather than the beginning of a lifetime of play? How does this biblical text and the thousands of years of lovers who’ve read and cherished it invite us to renew the game, learn to flirt again, and awaken love?
Continued in the online sermon.