Last week we discussed what strong love looks like. Solomon and Shulammite had a strong love between them, and now as Solomon closes, he is sharing His God-given wisdom with us in regards to the source of their strong love they have together (this is not the only way to strong love, but it is the best!).
Solomon goes back to the beginning, when Shulammite was a little girl, at home where her family deeply impacted her character development. This passage takes us back to her childhood when she was approaching puberty. And he zeros in on a conversation that her brothers had regarding their role in Shulammite’s life.
Apparently we are to see in this conversation something crucial and central to the development of intense and unconditional love. The basis of this understanding is the flashback in 8:10 where Shulammite clearly speaks of her being “a wall” referring to her inaccessibility sexually during that time.
(Others/Brothers) 8 We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? 9 If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver, but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar. (Shulammite) 10 I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace. 11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; each one was to bring for its fruit a thousand pieces of silver. 12 My vineyard, my very own, is before me; you, O Solomon, may have the thousand, and the keepers of the fruit two hundred. (Solomon) 13 O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening for your voice; let me hear it. (Shulammite) 14 Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.
It is clear from vv. 8-9 that her brothers are concerned for their sisters future marriage and husband by protecting her sexuality. Their strategy is simple and wise: 9 If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver, but if she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
Their strategy depends and is focused on her character.
If she’s a wall–withstands the little boys’ advances–then they will simply encourage and praise her for her virtuous and courageous stand! To place a battlement of silver on a wall was to decorate it to make it more beautiful.
But, if she became a door–open to the little boys’ advances and is easily seduced–they will barricade her with boards and fight for her and speak on her behalf. They will basically take responsibility for her chastity.
Encouragement and discipline seemed to be the characteristics of this caring home that produced a strong and pure love as a wife. But there is something else here. The family unit is responsible to help shepherd and protect, but one must also make responsible choices regarding their sexuality that represents their own values, not simply those of their parents.
And Shulammite informs us that she did take responsibility for her own choices and she began to own the values she learned for her self in verse 10: I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace. QUESTION: When was she in his eyes one who found peace? ANSWER: After deciding to be a wall and taking responsibility for her own virtue.
We need to take responsibility for our own purity as well as having good, healthy family and friends around us to teach, shepherd, and protect us, especially for the women, because of the sexual aggressiveness that is common in men. If you have no sisters and you are a brother in the Lord, you have many sisters and they are considered family to you.
Listen to the radical statement that Jesus makes in Mark 10:29-30: 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
In Christ, we are family, our houses are one another’s. and our responsibility is to love. serve and protect one another, especially our sexuality. So what I want to do with the rest of our time together as we close out this series, is to talk more in depth about raising children to make their faith their own and not have them try to own your faith. This is huge for all of us to do. And then give us some practical steps for each age group of children as to what to talk to them about to prepare them for adulthood.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9: 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This is job can seem overwhelming and many of us have no idea where to begin, so we’re gonna walk through this together to lay a foundation as to where to begin talking to your kids about God. Then we will close with age appropriate conversations and information to your kids regarding sex, sexuality, their bodies, etc… The following has been taken from the books Gospel Coach by Scott Thomas and You Can Change by Tim Chester:
1) Teach your kids that God is GRACIOUS: Because God sent Jesus to die for us, forgive our sin, and make us right with God through faith in Him; He is infinitely gracious. And since He is indeed gracious, we don’t have to prove ourselves to be acceptable. We are acceptable because of Jesus.
Opposite indicators of us not believing God is gracious:
-we take criticism and failures badly
-we find it hard to relax (not be anxious)
-we are proud or are envious of others
-we make people feel left out or guilty for leaving us out
-we will do anything for approval/acceptance (we fear man or love man too much)
2) Teach your kids that God is GOOD: Because God sent Jesus to die for us, forgive our sin, and make us right with God through faith in Him; He is infinitely good. And since He is good, we don’t have to look anywhere else for love, joy, peace, comfort, etc… We find the only lasting love, joy, peace, and comfort in the person of Jesus, who is God.
Opposite indicators of us not believing God is good:
-we feel that our responsibilities are a burden
-we often complain
-we make people feel burdened to live up to our standard
-we lack joy
-we are uncontrollably moody
-we fear man or love man too much
3) Teach your kids that God is GREAT: Because God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, and He holds everything together and keeps it going, and He knows all things that have been, that are, at that will be; He is infinitely great. And since He is great, we don’t have to try to be in control. Everything that happens in life is in the hands of this “gracious” and “good” God who loves us through His Son Jesus.
Opposite indicators of us not believing God is great:
-we are overbearing
-we are easily angered
-we are inflexible
-we are impatient
-we are irresponsible
-we hide our weaknesses
-we are overly anxious
Overview: 1) God is gracious, so we don’t have to prove ourselves to be acceptable or loved; 2) God is good, so we don’t have to look anywhere else for love, joy, peace, and comfort; 3) God is great, so we don’t have to try to be in control.
If you spent the rest of your days as a parent believing and teaching these three things, you and your kids will be equipped to love God and people in a more excellent way and will drastically increase their odds of being a healthy, functional adult in this world.
Now we will close with age appropriate stages of teaching your kids about sexuality. The following has been taken from the book The Secrets of Eve:
Preface: Be positive whenever you talk about sexuality and use every opportunity to reinforce to your kids that 1) “God made you and your body parts”, 2) “Sex is good and it’s a gift from God”, and 3) “God designed this good gift for marriage.”
1) Ages birth to three: It all starts with the everyday talk about their body parts while bathing and dressing, while you model respect of their body and yours.
It is important to teach your children the proper name of all the body parts, especially their genitals. This is important for you as the parent to be comfortable using the proper names and showing your children that each part is respectable and good.
If you give genitals pet names without teaching them the actual name, you are communicating to the child that certain parts of our body are hard to talk about so we give them nicknames. There could be shame attached to this because we never give nicknames to eyes, ears, noses, or fingers; but we do for penis and vagina.
Finally, spend this time stressing to your children that each part of their body has dignity and special functions made by God.
2) Ages three to five: As you build on the basics of body parts and physical boundaries.
Also, you can now introduce your children to the simple basics of human reproduction such as the growth of a baby inside mommy (or other mother’s) and the birth process.
Be sure tress the importance of genitals being private with special (non-shaming) function and no one is supposed to touch them. Children are naturally curious and will begin exploring themselves and their body and ask lots of questions such as the difference between boys and girls. Remember the preface.
Many children at this age will become curious with other kids or your bottom, genitals, or nipples, or perhaps they will fondle their own. If this occurs, respond as calmly as possible and do not write your own sexuality into their understanding of what they’re doing. Every situation like this is an opportunity to teach them the basics and re-instill values. Teach them that their genitals are private, they are not to show their genitals to someone else, they are not to fondle their genitals in front of someone else, or ask to see or fondle someone’s else’s genitals.
Finally, it is very important that you take this season of life to lay a foundation for your child’s understanding of being a boy or a girl, created by God’s design. Let them k now that God chose to create them a boy or a girl and that they are a special gift from God.
3) Ages six to eight: A child can now be introduced to the changes the body goes through to become a man or a woman.
Explain to them in simple terms the basic nature of sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife (i.e. Mommy and daddy come together to make babies and enjoy each others bodies, or if they ask, tell them more specifics such as the man’s penis goes inside of the woman’s vagina; remember, this is the way God made it and we don’t want to create shame or dirtiness to tis act).
It is huge for you to be the first to introduce the facts about sexual intercourse from a biblical perspective, before they hear it from other kids at school, because they will. Curiosity will continue, to do your own work with your pain and wounds so you can make the most of every opportunity and conversation about sexuality.
Finally, it is very important to lay a foundation of biblical morality for your children. Cover all the essentials such as: God’s design for family through a husband and a wife (don’t jump over this because your situation is different or it’s hard for you to talk about; this is not about you, but your kids). Also continue to reinforce the fact of the sanctity of the sex act and their bodies being reserved for marriage.
4) Ages nine to eleven: Now you must explain the sex act in more detail. Remember, sex is good, it is a gift from God, and it is reserved for marriage.
Also, begin (or continue the talk) about their responsibility of making their own choice to remain pure (emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually). In girls, puberty most likely will begin during this stage. You need to provide details about all the changes they will go through and remember to use real names for their genitals and do not be shameful about their bodies.
Again, you should be expanding on the details of sex being good, being a gift from God to be enjoyed in marriage, Their will be many messages they hear by now that sex is either gross or a god to be worshipped, so this will be a huge season of you reinforcing God’s design and goodness with sex. You should also address teenage pregnancy at this stage and STD’s (introductory info).
5) Ages twelve to fourteen: Prepare your child for the variety of feelings, emotions, frustrations, and social pressures of adolescence.
By now menstruation has begun in girls and boys’ and girls’ bodies will drastically change and hair will begin to grow around their genitals. Bw honest with your children about sexual arousal, encouraging them to talk about what they are experiencing in their minds and bodies, as well as other beliefs and attitudes they are experiencing.
If you have openly talked about sex and their bodies up until this point, this won’t be as hard, but it is vital that you and them can communicate and they can feel safe talking to you about these changes. You may also want to read books with them about puberty and sex education and talk through with them the difference with the world’s view of sexuality and God’s design and purposes.
Finally, do not stop building on God’s beautiful intentions of His created order for men and women, how they are to respect their own body and other’s bodies, and that their gender is important to the Lord and He designed them specifically with gifts as a boy/man or a girl/woman.
6) Ages fifteen to nineteen: This is where all that you have taught them will come to surface in the way they live, as you continue to reinforce: God is gracious, good and great; and He created sex to be good, and only received as a git in marriage.
Your response to their moral failures will be crucial; do not add shame or condemnation to their sexual faults, but consequences need to be in tact. The dilemma we face in our culture is that while our children are now physically capable of sex at younger ages (because the ages of puberty has dropped over the years; up to 4-5 years; 17-12 years of age), they are definitely not emotionally mature to handle the responsibility of sex.
This is why you need to continue to talk and tech your children about God’s good plan and that they were created to save themselves for the one He calls them to marry. The only approach that will physically, emotionally, and spiritually protect our children is abstinence, not from shame and guilt, but from a heart that believes God at His word. You cannot guilt or fear your kids into abstinence.
Dating: The time between first dates and sexual intercourse has dramatically declined for those who have sex before marriage. The average time between someone’s first date with someone and their first time having sex is 3 years.
So if your kids begin dating and kissing and acting married at age 16, unless they get married at age 19, the statistics show that they will most likely become sexually active before marriage.
Parents: Be involved in your children’s lives. Don’t miss out on their development and expect church and school to teach them. You are responsible for them being walls for God’s glory and their good. Redeem the word “virgin” in your house. Be willing to learn the information and model the attitudes your kids need to learn.
Heal from your junk and don’t project your own views and pain onto them and their experiences. Let Jesus meet you and heal you at those places so your kids can be given better opportunities than you!