The Bible on Romance
How Should a Woman Pursue a Man?
Well, unless the woman is a feminist, she should never pursue him. This is according to American cultural norms and even Christian churches.
The man must always, without a doubt and at all times pursue the woman. It’s the woman’s job to wait for just the right fairy tale moment before saying “yes” to his pursuit.
But, what if she likes him… a lot!
Too bad. She must wait. After all, if the woman appears too forward with her feelings, too open–it could lead to him reading too much into it. She doesn’t want to come across as a loose woman, so, she must remain elusive. She may only hint at her feelings towards him.
And if he’s too dumb to understand, it’s his loss.
(Or she could bring out the sledge hammer and smash his thick skull up a bit!)
In this day and age, pursuit and dating is strange. In a postmodern era with all the old American traditions thrown out, new rules have to be invented.
What are the rules of engagement?
These questions are as old as time. The Shulamite wrote about them in Song of Solomon 1:
7 Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
where you pasture your flock,
where you make it lie down at noon;
for why should I be like one who veils herself
beside the flocks of your companions?
She wanted to spend time with him, but didn’t wish to come across as a veiled woman, that is, a prostitute.
His response is reassuring to her.
8 If you do not know,
O most beautiful among women,
follow in the tracks of the flock,
and pasture your young goats
beside the shepherds’ tents.
First, he tells her to follow after where he goes. Go where he works with his flocks and, so she doesn’t feel awkward about it, bring a flock of young goats yourself.
This means she will be seen by others as a shepherdess and not a woman of the veil.
So, is it okay for a woman to pursue a man in this way? If the place is made safe by the man, if his intentions are pure, if he plans to create an area where they can equally meet and discuss things of the heart, soul, and mind… then I’d say yes! She should follow his path and leading to such a place.
In short, she is asking him out on a date, or rather, a special event where they can spend time together in safety (it’s a date). He is reassuring her that his intentions are pure. He’s saying, “I don’t see you as a veiled woman. I see you as someone like me. Let’s hang out and chat.”
What if the man desires to be with the woman? Song of Solomon also covers this. It is an exchange older than time, one that many are familiar with.
Song of Solomon 2:
8 The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away.
He gazes upon her beauty and he does so deeply. She fears that it might be too much. Even though she loves him deeply as well, how can she be sure that he sees her in the correct way? Is he trying to push love too soon?
And so she hides from him. And he continues to call out to her:
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
But she is not so sure if his intentions are full of integrity. She stays hidden just in case.
Today we call it, “giving him the silent treatment.”
“Is everything okay dear?” He asks.
“It’s fine.” She responds in a melancholy way.
It’s not, and he knows it. So, Solomon’s response here has to do with little foxes.
15 Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.”
Be careful of the little things that get between a courtship. For they blossom quickly like weeks. They can choke out the purity and gentleness of love.
16 My beloved is mine, and I am his;
he grazes among the lilies.
17 Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on cleft mountains.
And so, she responds by saying, “Keep pursuing me. Keep loving me. Eventually I will come out of my hiding place.”
Alas! She waited too long. Chapter 3 opens with a nightmare.
On my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not.
2 I will rise now and go about the city,
in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, but found him not.
3 The watchmen found me
as they went about in the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
What was her response to losing him? She came out of hiding. She ran after him. She asked others where he went. She pursued him.
4 Scarcely had I passed them
when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go
until I had brought him into my mother’s house,
and into the chamber of her who conceived me.
5 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.
And so it end with their love reforming to such a degree that they must refrain from fully realizing this love until it pleases in marriage.
The warning against premarital sex happens many times in Song of Solomon. The two beloveds wrestle with natural feelings and the waiting that must be kept for the sake of purity and God’s righteousness.
The important thing is, there are times when they must wrestle apart, but there are other times when they must wrestle it together.