Alexa graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in May of 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. She is currently attending Southeastern to receive her Masters in Ministry to Women. She has a deep desire to love broken and insecure women, and to come alongside of them to help them seek or restore their identity in Christ. When she isn’t doing all things seminary, you can find her with her nose in a book, chasing a sunset, or adventuring with her friends.
Song of Solomon is probably a book that you have skipped over before. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this. The book is so saturated with sensual descriptions and praises that it is no wonder we squirm while reading it or avoid the book all together. It is a common misconception that Song of Solomon is reserved just for those that are married or dating, but we don’t realize the merit that it has for those who are single.
In the book, one of the main characters is an unnamed woman who is awaiting her union with her betrothed. Over the course of the text, she implores the daughters of Jerusalem three times to “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” Other translations replace “pleases” with “the proper time” or “until the time is right.”
In context, the woman is talking about remaining pure until marriage. She longs to be intimate with her lover but recognizes the importance of her waiting. Her deep longings cause her to warn other women to be careful with their own sexual desires and to not act on such desires before marriage.
As single women, it’s easy to succumb to sexual desires before marriage. When we turn on the TV our eyes are met with images that make sex tempting and seem inconsequential. When we turn on the radio our ears are met with lyrics that condone one night stands and promiscuity. It is all around us. The loneliness we feel for a relationship and the desire to feel loved can cause us to fall prey to instant sexual gratification.
However, stirring up love doesn’t have to be sexual. It can be anything that causes you to awaken feelings and desires of love before God’s appointed time.
Believe me, this is hard not to do when you’re single. We want to know someone and be known in return so badly that it causes our heart to ache. Our cravings for intimacy can cause us to give our hearts away to someone that has no intention of taking care of it.
Simply put: giving your heart away before the proper time can be just as destructive as giving your virginity away
Why? Because both reap consequences.
In her article about Song of Solomon, Vivian Padilla-Chapman explains how romantic awakenings lead to thoughts that lead to actions. She writes: “If these awakenings happen during a season when they can’t be righteously fulfilled, they often lead down a path of hurt and regret, not only a loss of virginity.”
These awakening of love can be anything such as allowing or responding to flirtations because you admire the attention, sharing intimate details and feelings with someone you have no intention of pursuing, or settling for a relationship with someone simply because you are lonely.
Physical and emotional intimacy too soon and too fast can lead to a broken heart and a misconstrued idea of what true intimacy looks like. While emotional intimacy doesn’t necessarily have to wait until marriage, if you find yourself engaging in any of the examples above, you are trading the intimacy that God wants you to save for the person he has for you for a substitute that only partially fulfills.
So how do we avoid awakening love before its proper time?
1) Guard your heart
Yes, I know this phrase has been overused and misinterpreted before but there is truth in it. This does not mean to avoid any contact with guys all together or build walls with them, but to act wisely and carefully when you do engage with them. Don’t hand over your heart to the first guy that gives you attention and don’t disclose the deepest parts of your heart to someone who isn’t pursuing you romantically.
2) Avoid temptation
Setting boundaries is huge. If you know that a particular person is only interested in you because of your body, stay far away. If you know that a guy is only texting you because he wants to be flirtatious and nothing more, don’t give him your attention. If being alone with someone causes you to want to act on feelings that you know you shouldn’t, avoid situations that leave you two alone. It might sound silly, but surrounding yourself with romance can also create temptation. Avoid watching movies or reading books that stirs up feelings of bitterness or heartache. In her article on singleness, Calley Sivils writes, “Doing this can easily irritate wounds and give a foothold for envy and comparison to wreak havoc on your emotions.”
3) Seek God’s will in your relationships
Like I mentioned earlier, emotional intimacy doesn’t necessarily need to wait until you’re married, but it’s important that you wait to awaken it with the right person. In a season of singleness, you can guard your heart, avoid temptation, and be praying that God will lead you to the right relationship. Stirring up love before its appointed time results when we take matters in our own hands and refuse to listen to what it is that God wants for us. If a relationship isn’t on your horizon yet, spend time asking God to show you the qualities of a godly man that you should be looking out for. This doesn’t mean to hold every man you meet to an impossible standard, but to look out for the qualities of a man that will take care of your heart well and bring you closer to Christ. If a relationship is on your horizon, spend time in earnest prayer that it is God’s will for that relationship to occur, and ask for wisdom and discernment about whether he is the right man to pursue.
4) Remember your first love
No, not Jeremy from high school. I’m talking about Jesus. In a season of longing for a relationship, don’t forget or neglect your relationship with Him. We are reminded how to act wisely and righteously when we are in God’s Word and continue to come before him in prayer. Temptation is fought effectively by a woman who fears the Lord. Spend time in His Word, bring your struggles and lay them at His feet, ask Him for his help and direction. Remember that God’s love is vastly more important than any love we have here on earth.
So sisters, just as the woman charged the daughters of Jerusalem, I give you the same charge. Don’t stir up or awaken love until it pleases, and continue to walk in wisdom as you journey down the path God has laid for you.
(P.S. to read previous posts in this series, click here)