[Welcome to week 1 of our new series Love, Sex and Dating or LSD for short. We’ll be exploring Pastor Tim’s message and how we can apply it to our own lives.]
Ice Breaker Question:
[If you’ve never heard this song feel free to play it for your group as a way to set the mood for your time. It’s a fun vintage song from Paul McCartney.]
Years ago, Paul McCartney and Wings sang, “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. I look around me and I see it isn’t so.” Why is that? Why do we never get tired of love songs?
In Pastor Tim’s message, what did you find challenging, helpful or even confusing? Share with the group.
Pastor Tim talked about looking for a man or a woman of good character. What are some the challenges you’ve had? Or if you are married, what are the character qualities you love about your spouse?
Do you have a spiritual silhouette that you have in mind?
Apply the Bible
In the opening verses of the Song of Songs, we learn that love brings us pleasure. The song begins with the bride saying, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” Right from the get-go, the writer leaves no doubt as to what this book is about. We jump right into the timeless, universal, physical expression of love—the kiss. “Kiss me, you fool!” the bride is saying. “Lay one on me!”
The song is telling us that one of the reasons love is so wonderful is that it is a source of great pleasure and delight. A passionate kiss from the one you love is like nothing else in life. It’s better than wine, the singer says. She wants that experience—she wants to be kissed passionately and tenderly by the person she loves. And so do we. Do you remember, as a kid, sitting in class, daydreaming about some boy or girl you liked and writing their name in your notebook over and over again? Suddenly, you realize that the teacher is calling on you, and you’re sitting there with this silly grin on your face. Just thinking of the person’s name makes you happy.
She fantasizes in verse 4 about running away with the one she loves, of having him all to herself, of spending the night together. Again, whether she is anticipating her wedding night or remembering it, we’re not quite sure, and it doesn’t really matter. The point is that nothing would make her happier than to be alone and intimate with the one she loves.
Have you ever seen an older couple holding hands? It makes us smile. We are happy for them. Love is wonderful because it brings us pleasure, from that first pubescent pang of desire right through to the tender, twilight years of life. We never get tired of it. We never get enough of it. It’s like wine, the chorus says—sweet and intoxicating.
[Q] Read Song of Songs 1:3. What happens when you pour a vial of perfume out? How does it affect the room? How does this describe the way the bride feels about her bridegroom?
[Instantly, the room fills with the fragrance. It’s the only thing you can smell. That’s what happens every time she thinks of her lover’s name—he captures her imagination; he’s the only thing she can think about.]
[Q] In what way does the latter part of verse 4 remind you of the wording in some Psalms?
[The two words “rejoice” and “delight” are words used throughout the Old Testament to describe worship. Love is so wonderful that, when we see it or experience it, we praise it.]
[Q] How do you think God feels about our sexual pleasure in marriage?
- A necessity for procreation.
- A joyous celebration of intimacy.
- Only a consequence of our sinful, broken world.
[Q] Why did you pick the statement you did? How does it affect the way you view sex?
[Depending on how you were raised and your church tradition will depend on how this question is answered. Some grew up in environments where sexual intimacy was seen as a dirty thing, something that is sinful and dealt with only for procreation, others grew up in an environment where sexual expression was loose and free. Song of songs is a book where physical love and intimacy is celebrated because God created it, it is good in the confines of marriage. If we see our sexuality as a good thing, it is something that we should celebrate and rejoice in.]
The first voice we hear is the young woman. This is significant because women in the ancient world were regarded very little. They were viewed either as possessions of men, servants or slaves. Yet here we read of the woman initiating sexual intimacy with the man that she chooses. This shows that she stands on equal footing with the man, not subservient. This actually stands against the cultural narrative of the time that normally depicted women as subservient and less than men.
[Q] How does this passage reveal God’s character? Why do you think He reveals this in a feminine voice?
[In the culture and in the church often women’s voices are not heard with the same equality as men’s. Here God is revealing that He, like the woman, is an initiator. God initiates a relationship with humanity (John 6: 65). Often, it is expected that men should initiate. That may be more of a cultural expectation than a biblical principle. The woman here is initiating a relationship with a man. God uses the woman to reveal this aspect of His character because He is showing that women are also made in the image of God and have access to everything men have. They are NOT second class citizens or property, but co-image bearers with men.]
Switch things up! Rather than waiting till’ the end to pray, why don’t you try praying in the beginning, middle or the end. You may end up spending your entire time in prayer, don’t view that as a negative. Whenever you are connecting with God in community, you will experience God’s Presence and Power through prayer and your group will come away encouraged.
Chance to Serve
Looking or an opportunity to serve? Check Out Night To Shine. This is a prom for teens and adults with special needs. We are still looking for buddies at our Mountainside and Union County locations. Check out our Night To Shine website to check it out.
In the message Pastor Tim talked about the struggle we have with insecurity. If you google the definition of insecurity it says, “uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.” Or “the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection.” Whether you are single, dating, celibate, married or single again we all struggle with insecurity. In this section, let’s explore how we can find our confidence and courage in Christ when we feel insecure. Our insecurities are rooted in fear.
[Q] Think of some of your insecurities. How are they connected to fear? What are some of the things you are afraid of?
[This can be a great conversation to have with your group! Be aware, that not everyone may want to share. Lead by example and share with them some of your areas of insecurity. Make sure to thank people for sharing their stories. People’s stories are like fine china and must be handled with great care and delicacy.]
When Joshua and Caleb went with the 10 spies to scope out the land of Canaan (which was to become Israel), most of the men were terrified of the people they found there. However, Caleb said, “my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly” (Joshua 14:8).
[Q] What does it mean to follow God wholeheartedly? Describe what you think such a life looks like.
[This is really the desire of the Christian life. To follow God WHOLEHEARTEDLY means that we give God our undivided attention, undivided obedience, and undivided devotion. This is a challenge for even the best believers. And sanctification is the process where we are becoming wholeheartedly devoted to God. This is a life long process that involves self-examination, reflection and taking action. It also involves forgiving and being forgiven. The question that we must ask if we follow God wholeheartedly is what is getting in the way of that devotion to God. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, it normally is not. But following God wholeheartedly is saying YES to God no matter what and where He leads.]
[Q] How can we follow God wholeheartedly even if we struggle with fear and insecurity?
[Following God with our whole hearts is not about what we feel but what we do. We can still choose to follow God and keep moving forward in our faith by saying yes to God and doing what His word tells us to do. When we obey God’s word even when we are afraid or insecure we are choosing to obey God’s word over and against our feelings. That decision honors God.]
The strength that overcomes fear can only come from God. Read Isaiah 35. [Read these 10 verses out loud. Go around in your group and have one person read 1 verse at a time.] Jesus quoted part of this passage in Luke 4, and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
[Q] How can a relationship with Christ give you strength to overcome fear? Give a personal example, if you can.
[This passage promises that God will come and give us strength. That God will save us from the struggles and attacks that we are going through in life. We have Jesus who has defeated every evil power in the Heavenly Realms (Ephesians 1: 19-23). Knowing Christ is like knowing the kid that is bigger than the bully in your school. The bully is mean, intimidating and can cause you some hurt. But Jesus is bigger and He’s got your back!
Share an example where your relationship with Jesus gave your courage in the face of difficult decisions, health struggles and the like. Lead by example, but if there are those in your group that want to share let them. Stories of faith; of God coming through can be encouraging for everyone in your group.]