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The End of the Law is… not us

Previously, Peter Leithart asked:

What assumptions about sex are behind the common opinion that the Song [of Songs] is only an erotic poem, only a celebration of human sexuality and marriage, full stop?

Jim Rogers of Texas A&M writes:

I think a part of the answer is this: Commentators (and many Christians more generally) come to the other parts of Scripture dealing with sex with materialist/anthrocentric assumptions, so why wouldn’t they do so also for the Song?

For example, we read Gn 2.24 as pertaining primarily to the type and not, first, to the antitype. But Paul doesn’t:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be come one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

The first application is to the antitype – Christ and the church. The second application is the type, i.e., human marriage. (So, too, cf., 1 Co 6.15-20, although it’s a bit more blended there. Still, the focus is on the implication for our union with Christ.)

Even in the OT, there is far more extended discussion of idolatry as spiritual adultery than there is discussion of human adultery. But, still, we read the sex laws in the Law of Moses almost exclusively anthrocentrically rather than Christocentrically (or Yahwehcentrically, as the case may be).

This despite the fact that Christians know that the law reveals Christ first (Lk 24.27, 44). This means that the law on polygamy, the law on taking interest, the laws and theft and murder and etc., first reveal Christ – and I mean that it reveals to us the person of Christ directly (and his relationship with his people), not just stuff about the ethics for his people.

And don’t we see this in Moses as well? E.g., Exodus turns at the Golden Calf incident. But isn’t the bitter waters test in Nm 5 a development of the rite that Moses implemented in Ex 32.20-21ff?

Indeed, when we have entire schools of thought devoted to reading Moses with an eye to how the Law applies (or should apply) today to human relationships (whether approving Moses or disapproving Moses), why would you expect those same Christians to read the Song as anything more than a guide to human sexual relationships? All they’re doing is being consistent.

Read the post here.

That is wonderfully, brilliantly and 100% correct.

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0 thoughts on “The End of the Law is… not us

  1. Dave K

    That is a brilliant post. One question though: Is the "primary" application necessarily the "first" application?

  2. Glen

    If I'm understanding how you (and/or Rogers) are using 'primary' and 'first' terminology... my initial thought is that they are inseparable. Even if you decide to *first* obey commands on marriage by applying them to you and your spouse, you'd be sinning if you did not do it for the sake of its Christ-and-the-church witness.

    Everything not from faith is sin.

    That's my initial thought anyway. What think you?

  3. Dave K

    That's a good initial thought!

    I was thinking more about the hearing/percieving than the doing, and thinking of primary=first in importance, first=first in order.

    Just as in human actions of people you know in church you can see God's love in action through them, you may see the person first but as you look harder realise that God's love came first, and God's glory is the end/goal. I.e. we tend to join in the middle of the story but we can still look backwards and forwards to get the big picture... and so truly understand what is going on in the middle.

    In terms of DOING, I think you must be right. If you're just reading the Song of Songs, or the whole Bible as advice (i.e. law) then you'll never please God.

  4. coomar

    Glen, mate, it's like you're in my head! (And always slightly/significantly ahead) ;-)

    Just preached on one such confusion of type and antitype last night... how in Eph 5.21-33 we automatically view the cross as being a helpful picture to illuminate marriage, when actually it is the other way around; it is marriage which illuminates the ancient mystery of Christ's relationship with the church, which is finally revealed on the cross and made clear in the New Testament.

    Would send you the text of the sermon but it is in Greek! ;-)

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