Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Song of Solomon, Day 22

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says we need to be reminded of one obvious conclusion from the Song of Solomon.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Physical intimacy is good. It’s beautiful. It’s holy. It’s wonderful. It’s created by God. It is a great gift.

Leslie: Today, we’ll talk about how to protect this good gift.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

In a world that doesn’t value purity, how do you make pure choices? Nancy will give you several practical principles today.

We’ve been in the series, “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” It’s been an enlightening study in the Song of Songs. Primarily, the series has been about our relationship with Christ, but we’re taking a few days on how Song of Solomon relates to marriage.

Nancy: Here’s a principle I see in the Song of Solomon, and that is exclusiveness. We’re going to see more about this as a real emphasis in the last section of the Song of Solomon, which we’re going to get to starting in the next broadcast. But the concept that marriage is a covenant of companionship between one man and one woman. It's not a contract that can be broken, but a covenant, and it’s between a man and a woman and nobody else. Now, between the Lord, obviously, but nobody else can enter into that marriage appropriately and rightly.

So, it’s a pledge. Marriage is a pledge to reserve the deepest and most precious parts of a couple’s body and soul and spirit for each other alone, to keep you and you only and nobody else till death shall us part, that exclusiveness. Other friendships don’t have to be exclusive, probably shouldn’t be exclusive. But there’s an aspect of marriage that has to be exclusive.

Marriage is a pledge to reserve the deepest and most precious parts of a couple’s body and soul and spirit for each other alone.

Now, there are aspects where you include others. You have other friends, other couples that you relate to, people in your church that you relate to. But there are aspects for your marriage, the deepest parts of body, soul, and spirit have to be reserved for each other.

You see this in the Song of Solomon, where the bride and the groom give themselves wholly and only to each other in the most intimate possible ways. To be frank about it, they don’t allow outsiders in their bedroom and into the deepest parts of their souls. They don’t allow outsiders into the bedroom of their minds.

Now, all these things can be tempting in a broken world, but if you want to preserve intimacy in your marriage, there’s got to be an exclusivity. And let me go so far as to say this: To have a more intimate physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual relationship with any other man than what you enjoy with your husband is to commit adultery.

Now, probably there could be some qualifiers to that statement, but I want you to get the essence of that statement. It may not be physical adultery that’s being committed by being emotionally or mentally or spiritually more intimate with another man than with your husband, but emotional and mental and even spiritual adultery can often lead to physical adultery. It’s a breach in the oneness. It’s letting somebody else in to the inner-most sanctum, the holiest place of your marriage. There needs to be an exclusivity. And you read this all through Scripture.  

Proverbs 5, you’re familiar with that passage perhaps. It says,

Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth (vv. 15–18).

There is a fullness and an enjoyment to be had and springs and streams and joy and blessing, but it is to be between you and your wife. That intimate, most sacred part of your lives and marriage is reserved for each other, an exclusiveness.

But that relates to another ingredient I see in intimacy, and that’s purity. You see this throughout the Song of Solomon. This purity in the marriage relationship is a reflection of the purity of God’s love for us. What is God’s love if not pure?

Now, let me remind you that purity in marriage begins before you get married. And for single women listening, unmarried women, especially younger women, as you are living your life, be thinking about your future mate as it relates to this issue of purity.

There are ways that, as a single woman—if God ever intends for you to be married—that you can love and respect your mate, your future mate, now even though you don’t know who he is by how you conduct yourself as a single woman. Protect your future relationship even if you don’t have any idea who that might involve. Guard your heart. Keep yourself for him.

Part of the message of Song of Solomon is don’t awaken love until it’s time. Don’t be spilling out parts of yourself that ought to be reserved to give to your husband after you’re married. The things that you put into your head, into your mind, into your experience. . . there are certain lines that after you step over them, it’s very difficult to gain that ground back.

I know so many single women or married women who, when they were single, made choices that now have images and experiences that it’s very hard for them to have a wholesome and pure and sacred marriage because of choices they made when they were single women.

Now, not only does purity have to be cultivated prior to marriage, but protected in marriage. That’s where there’s such a need for us to remember how important it is to be vigilant to protect your own marriage and the marriages of others as it relates to purity.

(Maybe we should do a whole series on this page in front of me.) I was just thinking the other day, in an impure world, in a highly sexualized world, in a world that does nothing to promote purity and everything to promote impurity, how can somebody be pure?

We got a plate of email on our “Lies Young Women Believe” blog the other day. I don’t have it in front of me, but this young woman says, “I’m trying so hard to be pure. I haven’t been in the past, but now I’ve said I’m going to be. I’ve been celibate for forty-nine days, but it’s so hard. How can I stay pure in this world?”

I read that, and I thought, That’s where people are living. It is really, really hard, especially when you have opened doors in the past to impurity. So I’ve just been pondering: What’s a strategy for victory? I believe there can be victory through Christ. If the gospel can’t give victory in the moral area of our lives, then it can’t give victory anywhere.

I want to just run off for you ten points of a strategy for victory. I’m just going to give them to you real quickly.

Number one: Resolve in your heart . . . these all start with “R”. . . Resolve in your heart to honor the sacredness of your and others’ marriage vows—resolve it in your heart.

How seriously do you take the sanctity and the sacredness of your own marriage vows and of the marriage vows of the men you work with? the men you communicate with on Facebook and other means of social media? How seriously do you take the sacredness of those vows?

Now, men have to give account to God for keeping their vows, but we’re accountable to God as well for our influence and for anything that we may do that would put a hindrance in the way of somebody keeping their marriage vows. We become at least partially responsible for that. So, resolve in your heart to honor the sacredness of your own marriage vows and the marriage vows of others.

Number two: Remember the picture that marriage is supposed to be illustrating and that purity is supposed to be illustrating—a picture of God’s covenant-keeping love.  Keep that in mind, and remember who you belong to. Your life is not your own. Just remember those things when you’re tempted.

Number three: If you’re married, rejoice in the mate that God has given you. And for some of you, perhaps, it’s easy to do that. But for others, that may be more difficult. But ask God to help you enjoy and rejoice in the mate that He has given you.

You may not have been a Christian when you got married. You may have married somebody when you were out from under your parents' authority, you were rebellious, or you had an immoral relationship and didn’t seek God’s will. Maybe you married the wrong person, or at least you’re convinced of it now. The fact is, if you’re married now, that person is God’s will for you now. You’re in that marriage, and that’s God’s will for you, so decide that you’re going to rejoice in the mate that God has given you.

Number four: Rely on the grace of God and the power of His Spirit to meet needs that your mate cannot meet. Your mate cannot meet all of your needs, and the sooner you release him or her from those expectations, the happier your marriage will probably be. So, rely on God’s grace and His Spirit to meet the deepest needs of your heart and to deliver you from temptation. Rely . . . lean hard on His power.

If you’re married, number five, ask God to rekindle your love for your own mate. You may be feeling that you are much more drawn to somebody else’s mate right now . . . some old high school fling that resurfaced on Facebook . . . and there’s a lot more powerful attraction right now. Probably the reason is that you’ve been fueling that attraction, and you haven’t been fueling the attraction in your marriage. Regardless of the reasons, ask God to rekindle your love for your own mate. I want to promise you, God can do that, and He will if you let Him. Regardless of whether your mate changes or not, God can give you a supernatural love for your mate.

Number six: Run from potentially compromising situations. Social networking, Facebook, some of these things have become a huge catalyst in divorces today. I just read some mind-boggling reports recently of the percentage of divorced cases where Facebook is listed as one of the causes of this marriage breaking up. Now, the issue isn’t Facebook. The issue is what you do on Facebook.

But if you’re in a potentially compromising situation, run! Don’t pass go! Don’t collect $200! Don’t hang around to see if you can survive it. Don’t tell yourself you can deal with it. You can’t! You can’t play with fire and not get burned. Run from compromising situations.

Workplace relationships is such a breeding ground for immorality. Don’t become a listening ear to some man’s marriage woes. I don’t care how sad it is . . . I mean, I do care, but you’re not the one to be caring in that situation. Don’t lend your ear, and don’t share your marriage woes with a man who’s not your husband. If you’re going to talk to a pastor or a counselor, have another mature woman in the room . . . his wife or the wife of the man you’re talking to about the situation. If you’re getting godly counsel, get his wife or another godly woman in the room so that in the process of trying to deal with the issues in your marriage, you’re not potentially creating issues in somebody else’s marriage. Run!

Number seven: Reject anything that could fuel impure desires. What goes into our minds is so important. The potential for impurity is so enormous today through movies, DVDs, magazines, romance novels. I’m just saying, reject anything, influences that could fuel impure desires. As 1 Corinthians 6 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” Run from it.

Number eight: Resist temptation to isolate yourself. When you’re being tempted, when you’re in a difficult marriage or compromising situation, sin’s power is strengthened by secrecy. That’s why we need other believers that we’re honest with, people who will be in our face, in our life, people who can ask us the tough questions, people we’ll be honest with. They can provide encouragement. They can provide help. They can provide accountability. Resist the temptation, no matter how much you may feel like it, to isolate yourself.

Then number nine: Rehearse the consequences of sexual sin.

  • It eats away at the soul. 
  • It defiles the marriage. 
  • It defiles the picture of redemption. 
  • It’s destructive. 
  • It’s deadly. 

Make a list of some of the potential consequences of sexual sin. Keep that list near you and rehearse that list often if you’re tempted in that area.

And number ten: Rehearse the blessings of faithful love, of being a covenant keeper, the blessings in your marriage, in your children, in your conscience, in your future. You can list out what some of those are.

Which leads me to spend just these last few minutes of this session on the whole issue of physical intimacy in the Song of Solomon. Others have written and taught on this more effectively than I can, but I just want to draw a few principles here. The big take-away to me from the Song of Solomon, and certainly the most obvious one, is that physical intimacy is good. It’s beautiful. It’s holy. It’s wonderful.

And this is, I think, a helpful reminder for those of you who have daughters, or you may be involved in discipling younger women or younger believers who are not familiar with the ways of God, that physical intimacy is holy. It’s created by God. It is a great gift, and it’s to be richly enjoyed within the covenant bond of marriage.

We hear so much today about boundaries and prohibitions relating to sex in our Christian circles. Sometimes it’s easy to become fixated on that—what’s wrong with it—instead of what’s good with it. It’s like Satan in the Garden of Eden, what did he do? He focused on the one “keep off” sign, but God had created a whole amazing garden for them to enjoy. I think our younger women need to know that sex is wonderful. It’s good. It’s holy.

And, by the way, the language used in the Song of Solomon to speak of physical intimacy is beautiful and appropriate and not coarse. We have so coarsened and cheapened sex in our culture by the way it’s talked about and the context in which it’s talked about. We have women sitting around talking, guys sitting around talking, saying things, like . . . well, I don’t know what guys say when they sit around and talk. But I know it’s not appropriate to discuss intimate details of your marriage over coffee with a group of girlfriends. It’s not appropriate. Don’t cheapen or profane this beautiful gift.

Now, when I say that physical intimacy is wonderful, I know that for some, they don’t quite think that way. For some, this is a really difficult area because today we’re so far from God’s ideal of sex. It’s been so perverted and abused that, for many, it’s no longer a beautiful thing.

Some, as they’re listening to me talk about this, are wrestling with feelings of guilt because you made choices that misused and abused this good gift through illicit sexual relationships. And can I say, the message of the gospel for you is that God has grace for you. There is forgiveness, cleansing, restored purity through repentance. That’s the good news for you.

Some when I talk about this feel not guilt but pain. A friend was telling me the other day about a woman who said to her, “I can’t read the Song of Solomon. It conjures up destructive, painful images of things that I’ve experienced in my past.” And can I say, if you’re in that situation, the message of the gospel for you is that God has grace for you. It’s grace that you need, either way. God has grace to bring healing and restoration of emotions that may have been greatly damaged, perhaps in ways that you were treated as a child. You just think you can’t hear one more horrific story. I heard another one last week and thought, Oh my, how do they live with some of the mistreatment that happens?

I can’t explain all that, but I do know that God has grace to bring healing, forgiveness, restoration. Whatever you need to help you think right about this whole area of physical intimacy, God’s grace can give you.

Physical intimacy is a gift of God intended to be opened and enjoyed. There’s the one boundary—only within the marriage covenant. This means it’s so important to be careful about not defrauding others by creating expectations and desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. Until you are married, until there’s that marriage covenant, not just living together, but a marriage covenant; this is God’s way—then sex, physical intimacy will not be, cannot be the good gift that God intended for it to be. Within marriage it can be everything you imagine and more, and we see that in the Song of Solomon.

As I say that, I know this whole thing of defrauding is so important. Things that are being said, the way this is talked about, the way people say on Facebook, they’re just all out there. There’s such a lack of discretion and a lack of restraint. I’m trying to be discrete and restrained even as I speak here. Keep certain kinds of conversation and experiences just between you and your mate. That’s what makes it holy and good.

Remember that the purpose of physical intimacy is not first and foremost for self-gratification, but first for the purpose of giving pleasure to the other. As you keep that in mind, I think it will be helpful. We see this in the Song of Solomon.

Let me remind you that physical intimacy in marriage is not likely to be greater than the degree of oneness in other areas of your relationshipIf there are problems in the physical area (unless there is a physiological or organic issue that needs to be addressed there), chances are that there are other areas of your intimacy that needs to be addressed in terms of your relationship.

I want to encourage you that you may need godly counsel or help to deal with some of those issues. Don’t be afraid to ask a mature woman, “Can you help me think through this?” Not in a way that bashes your husband, but in a way that says, “I want our marriage to be all God created it to be.”

I just want to acknowledge again that you may be in a very difficult marriage. Let me just remind you that marriage is temporary. It is only in this life. It’s a gift. It’s a calling. It’s a mission. It’s a means of sanctification. There’s so many great things we could say about the purpose of marriage, but it is temporary, remember the big picture. Don’t forfeit eternal blessing for momentary pleasure or temporary relief of your pain.

The enemy will tempt you to step out of your marriage because the marriage is so painful, it’s so difficult. You’re thinking, There is no hope for this to be any different. And I’m saying, “You know what? If the worst is true, that it never will be any better, then remember that it’s temporary. You have all of eternity before you.”

And I’m not saying it is hopeless, but if you feel like it’s hopeless, and if nothing ever changes to make it better, remember that life is short. This marriage is temporary. So don’t give in to the lie of the enemy that says, “Oh, you can get relief for your pain in this set of romance novels, in this kind of movie, in this sympathetic man in your work place or this . . .” Don’t forfeit eternal blessing for momentary or temporary relief from the pain.

Look for the story that God is writing, even through the difficulties in your marriage. Look for the ways that He wants to use your life to put His covenant-keeping love on display. God loves an awful lot of people who are not faithful, who are not covenant-keepers, who are not holy . . . like all of us. As you love somebody who’s maybe not deserving or worthy of that love, as you let God love them through you and let God give you perseverance in that difficult situation, you’ll be putting the love of God on display, and you will have all of eternity to enjoy the fruit of that faithfulness that maybe you’re not experiencing through it now.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has given us two main ideas today. First: Intimacy in marriage is very good. It’s a gift from God. Second: It’s so good that it needs to be protected. It needs to be reserved for only marriage.

How do you make pure choices in a world that doesn’t encourage purity? Nancy provided ten helpful ideas today. You can re-read all ten by visiting our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can get read a copy of today’s message, listen to the message, or order it on CD.

We’ve heard from many women who say they “just happened” to find ReviveOurHearts.com. And God has used the biblical teaching on the site to transform women’s lives. This kind of ministry is possible because our listeners believe in how God is using it and they want to invest in what they see the Lord doing.

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Well, when difficulty comes into your life, who do you lean on? The answer tells you a lot about your heart. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shows you how to lean on the Lord in every situation tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV. Song of Songs references are from the NKJV.

Making It Personal

Day 22 – Cultivating Intimacy in Marriage 3: A Strategy for Victory

  1. In this session, Nancy emphasized the importance of purity in marriage and shared a strategy for victory in this area. Is the Lord speaking to you about any area(s) of moral impurity (whether you are married or single)?
  2. Is there anything in your life that needs to be eliminated in order to have an “exclusive” relationship with your mate? With the Lord?
  3. If you are married, what are some fresh ways you could express your affection for your mate?
  4. Whether married or single, what are some fresh ways you could express your affection for your heavenly Bridegroom?
  5. Do you see physical intimacy as good, beautiful, and holy in the context of a covenantal marriage relationship? If not, what has contributed to your view?
  6. How should the truth that physical intimacy is a gift from God to be enjoyed in marriage shape your perspective on sex?
  7. Whether you are married or single, what are some implications of the concept that marriage is a temporary gift (for this life only)?

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