Song of Solomon

I have been so disgusted with the lack of intellectual integrity in this modern era. From liberals and sexual libertines, the corporatists and their CNBC shills and lackeys, the halls of academia and science, the judicial sophists, prejudicial journalists and media to the theologians and the theologically minded; all are proving more dishonest than the proverbial used car salesman, (whom I actually trust more nowadays). For several years now, I have self-declared that I would rather share a beer with an honest homosexual scholar (i.e. John Addington Symonds (1840–1893)1) than a disingenuous Evangelical. This echoes my late grandfather’s sentiments, of which I have only been made recently aware, who declared his preference for the [conversational] company of a prostitute than a liar.

How can any person give the benefit of the doubt to Evangelical Jesuits on any theological matter, who, in partial and self-serving disingenuity and deception, do not go where the evidence leads; do not go where the Scriptures leads? Such exalt their subjective faculties, with faithless exegetical rendering, over the authority of God and His Scriptures, “nullify[ing] the word of God for the sake of your tradition (or instruction)2. There is a difference between mere hermeneutical error and deliberate sophistry and deceit; between Augustine and Jerome. And if a theologian deliberately misconstrues the Scriptures on one matter, ought not red flags to be flapping on his treatment of all other?

Whether indeed the Song of Solomon speaks of oral congress upon the genitalia, at least of the husband upon the wife, it cannot be discounted as an illegitimate interpretation of the text.

You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon. Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden; that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.3

To faith traditions (Evangelicalism and even more so Fundamentalism), who pride themselves for taking a literal stance of Scriptures and castigate their theological foes for allegorizing the Genesis Creation and Flood; they display significant hypocrisy and selectivity in their literalness. If these preachers or theological pundits are not straining to suggest that this love poem is an esoteric, amorphous and unfathomable allegory of the Christ-Church relationship, they would seek to effectually prevent its meaning from being translated into the vernacular; to keep “in secret terms about that which should be kept secret4. It is because of such ashamed secrecy about the riches of conjugal physical Eros that many younger Christians, including myself, had faced their tumults alone and isolated, without a proper and glorious vision to strengthen their resolve. I cannot express the extent of my contempt and rage at the folly of such theologues!

It is simply untrue that the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, veils sexual references. Even English translations of the none-too-infrequent references demonstrate a matter-of-fact bluntness, though not vulgarity, about sexuality and human genitalia. And many a commentator note that the original Hebrew is even more unambiguous and explicit. Indeed, if the Song of Solomon was so veiled, why would Jews seek to prevent their youngsters from reading Song of Solomon until they were married or at least 30 years of age?

In this passage, the bride is, without doubt, speaking of her vulva area, when she speaks of Blow on my garden; that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. She is not merely speaking of herself but of something she possesses; indeed is now the possession of her lover.A11 Attempts to relocate the referred body part to the navel by past commentators are simply laughable expressions of the great lengths that the prudish, inhibitive religious mind is willing to obfuscate and obscure.

References of the female nether regions as a field or garden are a universal motif. The Sumerian epic poem “The Marriage of Inanna & Dumuzi” speaks “Who will plow my vulva! Who will plow my high field! Who will plow my wet ground!” The Greeks and Romans often spoke of coitus in terms of ploughing the field or adultery as “the business of ploughing other people’s fields and leaving his own uncultivated”6. Even cross-referencing with other parts of the Scriptures squarely places this description with the female body part. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.7

Whether the phrase taste its choice fruits is a literal advocacy of oral congress or merely that of a figurative partaking and consummation, is fair question for debate; to which neither side has definitive answer; to which neither side has right to insist; to which neither side has right condemn the other. What is not doubtful is that the emblem of femininity is being explicitly described; in terms poetic; not to protect the tender sensitivities of modern effeminate Evangelicals; but to associate a body part and emblem with beauty and significance. Theologians, who wish to shield their eyes or the eyes of their flock from that which God unabashedly portrays, have no business in the pulpit.

That the heart of the bride is herself, a garden locked up, a spring enclosed and sealed fountain, there is no dispute. And there are more choice fruits and spices hidden in the heart of woman to satisfy the deep yearning within a man’s breast than to be found in the bodily emblem of her femininity. However, in order to understand that which is being signified, we must appropriate in detail and ruminate upon the allusion which signifies it.

(From upcoming book - In Defense of Christian Marriage)

Footnotes:

  1. Though a homosexual, in his “A Problem with Greek Ethics”, he discounted the ancient and modern interpretation of Achilles as the lover of Patroclus, as a self-serving understanding of later pederast and gay societies. Homer and his contemporaries did not understand deep friendship as necessarily involving physical intimacy. And to the extent that I have read of William Armstrong Percy, III (1933 – ), I would say the same. Also, a gay activist, he discredits and discounts all the ‘scientific’ genetic theories and studies concerning homosexuality as defying credulity.
  2. Matthew 15:6. Traditions are instructions passed on down through the generations.
  3.  Song of Solomon 4:12-16
  4. John MacArthur, “The Rape of Solomon’s Song (Part 2)”, April 15, 2009
  5. John MacArthur. Ibid. Contrary to his belief “In Driscoll’s mind, it’s not the bride herself who is a garden, but a     specific part of her anatomy.
  6. Plautus (255 – 184 B.C.), ”Asinaria (The Comedy of Asses)”, (c. 204 – 184 B.C.), Transl. by Paul Nixon, Act 5, Scene 2, “fundum alienum arat, incultum familiarem deserit
  7. Proverbs 5:15
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