Friday, December 05, 2008

Love your wife as she is

After seeing Terry's comment about "real women have curves," I got to thinking a bit about how I appreciate my own wife, and that got me to thinking about the disdain for the imagery used in the Song of Songs that is too often prevalent in Christian circles today--along the lines of "what man would ever compare his wife's nose to a tower?!".

Now the usual explanation for this is that people just don't understand the Hebrew imagery. I'm not convinced that this is the case; I rather think that Solomon and his contemporaries had learned something that we've forgotten today; that a husband's job (or wife's) is to appreciate the wife (husband) he's (she's) got. In other words, we've understood the image, but have rejected it.

For example, take a look at verse 7:2; the husband compares his wife's belly to a mound of wheat. Evidently Solomon's wife didn't do enough crunches, right?

Yes and no. Yes, she probably wasn't doing a lot of crunches, but no, Solomon doesn't view it as a fault. He simply knew that this was what a real woman looks like, and that "belly bump" is evidence of her fertility.

In the same way, let's pick on the men in verse 5:14; the wife compares her husband's hands to gold rings inlaid with beryl, but his body is carved ivory. In other words, he's got a farmer's tan and somewhat wrinkled hands. Obviously, not enough sunscreen, and he needs to get some rays to the rest of his body, right?

As surely as he didn't use much "Hawaiian Tropic," I don't know that his wife was worried about her man's non-model-like looks. Rather, they represented how her husband provided for and protected her.

And so I think we might arrive at a very sound inference; that the reason many don't appreciate the Song is not that we don't get the images. All too often, we do, and we fail to appreciate that precisely this may be the beauty that God commends.


Anonymous said...

It's some of both. Your point is extremely well taken, but it's also a matter no so much of not getting "Hebrew imagery," because there's something exotically mysterious about it, but of not knowing how to read poetry, period. For example, when people see a nose compared to a strong tower, their reaction is, "Calling someone's nose rocky and pointy is not nice, and noses aren't a thing like towers unless they're really weird noses." They don't think, "How COULD a nose be like a tower? What aspect of a tower is the speaker comparing to what aspect of a nose?" They don't get how to do the simple task you did of showing how a body CAN be like ivory in one way and like rings in another, so they just think, "Weird imagery, ergo I don't get it, ergo not romantic."

While as I say your point is well taken, I think the other half of the equation goes back to the problem we've both often lamented -- that people, yes even well-meaning Christians, don't know how to think and how to read.

Elspeth said...

Thanks for the link, bikebubba. Glad I spark a thought in you. You've sparked a few in me as well.

Gino said...

good posting.

Anonymous said...

I like Song of Solomon, but in terms of my wife I also refer to Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in "Pat & Mike" where Tracy says of Hepburn, "There's not a lot of meat on her bones, but what's there is cherce (choice)."