Sexuality and Spiritual Discernment
How beautiful your sandaled feet,Song of Songs 7:1-10 NIV
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle.
Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.
How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
my love, with your delights!
Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
and your mouth like the best wine.
May the wine go straight to my beloved,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.
This passage depicts sexual oneness between spouses – we can surmise from the rest of Scripture that the intention is exclusivity between spouses. Sex is a wonderful gift from God, but like all of God’s gifts, it requires stewarding. As sexual beings, by nature we long for sexual expression with others. But as Christians we are given guidelines to experience sexuality in a loving and committed marriage relationship.
How are we to steward this beautiful gift that our culture so often sullies through commercialization, exploitation and misuse? Emeritus university president Rex M. Rogers discusses spiritual discernment, a quality that allows the believer in an ever-changing culture to apply the enduring principles and moral values of Scripture:
“For Christians to respond to and reform culture, we must understand the patterns of this world. Then we must avoid conforming to its ungodly elements through the transformation that comes in the renewing of our minds. This transformation produces discernment, giving us the ability to know what is ungodly. God says, ‘Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil’ (Eph 5:15-16). The key to effectiveness in this divine-human endeavor of reforming culture is spiritual discernment, an essential part of our Christian worldview.”
Discernment is a special type of spiritual insight, something God expects every Christian to develop with the help of the Holy Spirit. God commands us to ‘preserve your sight’ (Pr 3:21). Discernment is a spiritual capacity, the ability to see life for what it really is. It is Christian critical thinking!
Spiritual discernment might be considered the Christian missing link. It’s missing in that all too often people seem not to use it in their decision making. Spiritual discernment is the link between knowledge of the Word of God and the application of this knowledge to our cultural experience. On the one hand Christians read and interact with Scripture, and on the other hand they confront culture; yet too often these two activities never connect!
The story of Lot in the Book of Genesis (19:1-38) is a lesson in the dangers of cultural captivity, something that can happen to a life that is lacking spiritual discernment. Lot chose to live in Sodom. He became a successful business leader in the city, and he allowed himself to become immersed in a non-Christian culture, even to the point of thinking and, later, acting immorally. Because he did not exercise spiritual discernment, he made a series of wrong choices that led to the loss of his character, his sons-in-law, his possessions, his wife, and his daughters’ morality and spiritual commitment. Lot never learned spiritual discernment.