In Song of Songs chapter 2 the woman affirms her own beauty as a Rose of Sharon and as a lily of the valley. This shows how a healthy self-image is what God desires for his people. It is an essential component for sexual intimacy. A woman who is insistent on seeing herself as bloated, overweight, ugly, imperfect, unlovely makes a poor lover. A woman who may be judged by some in these previous categories, but sees herself as beautifully formed by God can exhibit the confidence that will make her an excellent sexual lover no-matter the broader perception of herself. She can not blame a man for making her feel ugly – the feeling is not based in reality. The feelings may be real and all feelings need to be acknowledged. However, a woman is beautiful to Christ. If a woman’s identity is in Christ she knows that she is loved unconditionally as Christ loves her. Unfortunately we do not connect an inner, spiritual beauty with an external beauty. We continue to think that sex is a physical act and it is more importantly a meeting of sexual partners soul to soul. A woman who allows her confidence in God to shine through and allows herself to enhance her beauty for her lover will be attractive to her lover.
Positive, true, self-talk can be a start. We can breathe a prayer throughout the day, “I am beautiful in the eyes of God.” This is a total beauty and it is unconditional. It is beauty in the eyes of a faithfully loving beholder. God defines reality. When we call ourselves ugly, we denigrate what God has called beautiful. Of course, sin has affected us all. Where there is good and beauty, evil is there also. However, to only acknowledge the effects of fallen living is to deny the beauty that is still in all of us because we are created in the image of God. It is a god-like beauty, then, that resides in each of us. To just limit that to the soul or spirit of man is to ignore the implications of the incarnation. Jesus became flesh. He wasn’t a stand-out hunk – but he was beautiful. Humans are more beautiful than the birds of the air or the flowers in the fields. If you are a woman you must bring this to mind. You must meditate and pray and not allow the false beauty of the world to take away your true beauty which is fully exposed in sexual intimacy. In many of our churches we focused on the depraved side of humanity – if you are uncomfortable naked in legitimate circumstances you might pray that God would give you the confidence to see yourself from the other point of view. When you can say that you are as beautiful as a rose or a lily – you speak truly of yourself.
In the second verse the man affirms the woman and even takes it further. It has to be stated that the woman can not depend on the man’s affirmation – but it does help. The exclusive nature of their relationship says that not only is she beautiful, but all other women seem like brambles and thorn bushes in comparison. This is because of the exclusive decision of the lover to see his beloved as distinct. Also a truly open relationship, where secrets and fear and joys are shared enhances the physical beauty of a woman. No-one has shared with the man as she has shared with him and so no-one can appear as she does to him. If she were scarred by flames or deformed by injury the beauty that he sees through her body could not be changed.
Sonnet 116 from Shakespeare shows this same point:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
So – love is not love that alters when it alteration finds. Physical intimacy and sexual enjoyment should not change because of a change in circumstances or physical form.
Song of Songs 2:1,2
1 I am a rose[b] of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the young women.
- If a rose is truly implied in verse one, they were rare in Israel. How does this enhance the reading?
- The woman calls herself a lily and at other times refers to the body as a lily. How would you describe her self-image?
- How can a woman maintain a healthy self-image that enhances sexual image despite aging, weight gain, or the adverse effects that child-bearing can have on the body?
- How can a man encourage a woman to see herself as beautiful?
- What stops men from continuously telling their wives how beautiful they are and enhancing their sexual confidence through the years?