I’m in a church that ascribes to the brand of complementarianism your book is troubled by and I am a woman so I don’t get a lot of weight when it comes to how my church discusses these questions. What does seeking a sexual reformation look like for me?
This one of the questions submitted for tonight’s Sexual Reformation Conversation Series live Q&A. There are so many ways to answer it, right? I didn’t realize it then, but I wrote my first book Housewife Theologian because of the need for sexual reformation in the church. I wrote it because in many ways I felt uninitiated as a disciple in the church. The answer to the question seems to be in the question itself: I am a woman so I don’t get a lot of weight when it comes to how my church discusses these questions.
There it is. Weight. Value. Contribution. Reciprocity. Dignity. Personhood. It looks like being seen, having a voice, and being asked to use it because it is gift.
“My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”Song of Songs 2:14
That’s what it is to look like in the church. Invitation.
But that’s not what it looks like.
Reformation doesn’t come like that in this world. Not even in the church.
“Catch the foxes for us — the little foxes that ruin the vineyards — for our vineyards are in bloom.”Song 2:15
That’s what the woman says when her voice is beckoned. She’s in the clefts of the rock. She sees the foxes in their vineyard. Yes, it’s theirs. And in his gospel/nuptial invitation, the man says that the turtledove is heard cooing in “our land” (Song 2:12). She is a coheir of the promised land, a full member. And she calls him to sacrifice—catch the foxes. She’s watched him leap over mountains and bound over hills (2:8) to get to her, making his way to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense (4:6), the language of the temple which her very body represents.
Here is the ache of the already and the not yet. Do we stay in the cleft and raise our young there like the dove, or do we answer the call, come out, pick up our cross and join as a coheir in catching the foxes?
The Song gives us a vision and a taste of what is to come. It takes us behind the veil to the most intimate encounter with Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom. It is known as the holy of holies of Scripture. And the Song has proven this to me over and over.
And so I know that the bride wavers too. She stays in bed (Song 5:3). Passion is costly. Sometimes we want to dull ourselves of the drama of it all. The intensity of love. But as he gives her wish, his absence is unbearable. She’d much rather face the foxes than miss the beauty. She rises.
The guards who go about the city found me. They beat and wounded me; they took my cloak from me—the guardians of the walls.Song 5:7
This is what sexual reformation looks like for a lot of us right now.
Instead of a helping hand, this lovesick woman is taunted by the daughters of Jerusalem. But she stands on her own now, as she remembers the invitation. She’s seen behind the veil. And so she sets her eyes on the true consecrated one, who is brighter than snow, whiter than milk…more ruddy than coral, [his] appearance like lapis lazuli (Lam. 4:7; Song 5:10, 12, 14; Rev. 1:14).
Look, he is coming!Song 2:8; Rev. 1:7
Reformation looks like looking for Jesus. There’s some hiding, wavering, and getting clobbered. The foxes are everywhere. Even in our own hearts. But spring is coming. The blossoms are appearing, singing is breaking forth, and the vines are giving off their fragrance as our love is ripening.
Reformation looks like looking for Jesus, testifying to him, and looking beside us to see who’s with us.
The previous things will pass away. But the foxes don’t get in. (Rev. 21:4, 8)