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For many of us, dating is more confusing and stressful than it has ever been, but the longing for an intimate relationship is still there. How can we navigate the risks of dating in a healthy way? Ben Stuart continues in our new series by examining the relationship displayed in Song of Solomon and showing us how to date in a way that honors the other person and gives glory to God.

Key Takeaway

The way we speak and initiate conversation in dating is critical to the success of the relationship. When all the steps are taken in the proper order, you can fully give yourself to a trusted person who will honor you as your community celebrates.

Dating is confusing! It's much harder than it used to be. There is little trust and so much fear. The question is not how to date; it's how to get a lasting relationship. The longing for love is stronger than ever, but the complexities of dating are more confusing than ever. Song of Solomon shows us how to navigate the space between attraction and marriage. They deepen their evaluation, communication, and their commitment.

Song of Solomon 2:8-9

The woman is excited when he comes around. The man is excited to see her! Neither are trying to play it cool. They enjoy each other. That's how you know you can think about marriage. If they annoy you and frustrate you all the time, that's a pretty good indicator that they may not be the one. You are just addicted to the sex. Hold the physical parts back so you can figure out if you even like being around them. Time and distance or two great tools for evaluation.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

He's saying that being around each other is life-giving. Not only are they excited to see each other and miss each other when they are gone, but when they are together, they flourish. They're better people, and they challenge each other in a good way.

As they evaluate, they start to communicate. As He communicates, it's with clarity and intention. Look at the verbs associated with him, "he comes," "stands," and "speaks." He initiates. He is described as a gazelle and a stag. That is a mixture of strength and skill. He's confident enough to say what he wants and skillful enough to do it in a kind way.

In today's society, men are not as skillful in asking women out and initiating. Don't shame them. A lot of this is made confusing by our culture and what they've been taught. In this book, the man communicates with intention. If men are texting regularly and going on multiple dates, they need to let the woman know what the intentions are and where they stand and give them an out. Clarity is a kindness.

In "Rethinking Sex," Christine Emba says that putting sex on the front end of a relationship makes dating unclear. What does "getting coffee" mean? Do you want to go to a movie, or do you want their body? So when it's put early in the evaluation process, it makes us confused and scared of the process itself. Our "liberation" has cost us.

The man is also vulnerable in his communication. He risks being rejected. He climbs the lattice, the barrier between friendship and maybe something more, but he is willing to cross it and asks her to do the same.

Song of Solomon 2:14

He also asks with empathy. He knows what he is asking her to do and that it can be scary. He changes the metaphor. He's not a gazelle bounding anymore. She's a vulnerable dove in the rock. He's asking her to step forth from a place of safety and share more with him. He understands there is a risk.

His order of progression: He initiates with intention. He speaks with clarity. He goes first with vulnerability: he shares what he sees, compliments her, and shares how he feels. Then he invites her and waits until she is ready.

He pictures her like a dove, which is a tender animal. There's a delicacy to it. To a dove, there's nothing more frightening than a man's hands. So, he speaks gently to her with clarity, vulnerability, and empathy. He's not going to use her or take advantage of her.

Eventually, you end up sharing more. At some point in dating, you share with them your history, who you were, who you are now. Some people recoil at that, but in relationships, people long for complete vulnerability and complete safety, to be fully known and fully loved. You want someone who will cry and laugh with you. They're confess, you'll forgive. You'll mourn what was lost. You'll celebrate who they are now and all that God has done. And it will create a very strong bond.

If you share deep, vulnerable things and the other person can't forgive, Thank God you found that out before you were married and good riddance. Jesus Christ knows everything about you and still chose you. You want to marry someone who will love you like Jesus. If they can't forgive your past, what are they going to do when you hurt them in the future?

Song of Solomon 2:15

Pronouns shift to "us" and "our." They're committed. As you get closer, you become more aware of threats. They realize they have a love that's blossoming, and some things are going to try and ruin that, so they call out to their community for help.

Foxes were pests in the ancient world. They would eat the blossoms and buds before anything had a chance to fully mature and bear fruit. Some threats are conflict and sex. What will they do when they disagree? How are they going to set up accountability and manage restraint?

Song of Solomon 2:16-17

She loves him, but it's beyond love. It's possession of all of her. They don't just want to use each other's bodies. They want a unified whole. Mind, heart, and body. As this pursuit is done well, her desire for him grows.

Song of Solomon 3:1-2

Often referred to as the "Bride's Dream" or "Bride's Anxiety". They're not married yet, she is in her own bed, but she's searching for him. It's a picture of her realizing that she's lying alone in her bed and she loves that man. She longs for him. She gets up to go find him. This is thought to be a dream, but it's the poetry of longing. It was just as dangerous for a woman to run out alone into the night then as it is now. Yet, she's willing and risks it.

Song of Solomon 3:3-4

Some scholars say that in the dream, the watchmen represent her chastity or purity. They check in with her on whether or not she truly wants to pursue him...she says yes. She finds him and takes him to her mom. Why does she take him to her mother's house? Because mom's were seen as a safe place and she wants her mom to speak into whether this guy checks all the boxes.

Song of Solomon 3:5

She warns the young woman again. True love, lasting love, has a lot of communication, evaluation of character, chemistry, a resolve from a community to work through conflict. He is her friend. They have made plans to retrain from the natural sexual pull. He is worthy of all of her, and she is willing to give him all of her. She is telling the younger women...wait for that! That is what you want.


"Dating is a dance of risk and response."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Song of Solomon 2:8-17
  • Song of Solomon 3:1-5
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.