In anticipation of the release of Justice Calls (you can pre-order it here), I’m sharing an excerpt a day. Today’s is from Deborah A. Appler, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and the Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Scholars have noted that the relationship recounted in the Song of Songs is “transgressive” — that it resists the constricting societal norms as defined by the ancient culture in which these texts were created: a society in which relationships were often based not on the flames of desire but on family needs and tradition—to keep land and property in the household and to maintain the ethnic identity. Today many of these relational barriers in parts of the world have been transcended. Most contemporary churches in the U.S. recognize that the divine flame of love can burn in the hearts of couples of differing races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Yet there are still men and women in relationships burning deeply with the divine flame of God who love dangerously and without the support of the church. Some of these couples have experienced violence and censure and attempts to drown the flame, much like the resistance met by the woman in the Song when accosted by the sentinels in the city. How might the Song’s resistance to societal norms and celebration of love play out in our churches and culture today?