Love is Like Wine (By Bonnie Pue)
how love is like wine
BY Bonnie Pue
It could happen to you.
You, the level-headed individual. You, the one with ideals of what a dating relationship should look like. You, the one with priorities lined up. You get yourself to bed at a reasonable time on the weekdays and are committed to a balanced life of friends, family, and work. You are walking along, minding your own business. You have deliberated to enjoy this season of being single, though your prayers often include tag lines about the future.
Then seemingly out of nowhere.
Catches your attention.
I've seen it countless times. Regular people turn into twitter-pated, infatuated, dreams-gonna-be-satiated beings. They forget their schedule. They talk about their significant other all of the time. They survive on way less sleep because they are so busy talking on the phone at night. Their resting face is now a smile. We know who they are thinking about. Their eyes twinkle and their voice has a contented sigh hidden behind their every word.
There is a verse in Song of Solomon, first chapter, that has been in my mind this week. For those of you unfamiliar with the Bible, this is a book written by a king named Solomon. It is a collection of love songs that describe the process by which he met and fell in love with his wife. The language is vivid and generous, with long descriptions of what they are attracted to about each other. When I found and read it as a 10 year old, it certainly made me blush, but these matters are included in the Scriptures for a reason.
God is not embarrassed to have open conversations about our sexuality and the relational transitions that we go through.
So, in chapter 1, the woman says to her husband, "Your love is better than wine."
Now, certainly, there are many kinds of love. The English language is limited, because we use the same word to describe how we feel about pets, tacos, vacation spots, and the people we have committed our lives to forever. Within that word "love” we could be saying that we feel "affection", "respect", "sexual attraction", "desire to be near", and "desire to do good to". Ultimately, there is the greatest and most steady of loves that says, "No matter how I feel, I will continue to want good for you and work to that purpose."
In the context of this verse, I think it is clear that the woman is talking about physical attraction and the thrill of emotions saying, "Being around you is somewhat intoxicating." The affect of wine is well-known: inhibitions come down, risk-taking goes up. A little bit of wine can relax you; a lot of wine can debilitate you. And so it is with love.
According to the teachings of Scripture, marriage is the place where there can be an unashamed amount of attraction that gets you tipsy, that then leads to sexual intimacy in the privacy of your relationship. It is celebrated and encouraged, and the Bible clearly says that "the marriage bed is undefiled". The temptation of humanity is to have as much sexual expression as possible before you get married and then as little as possible after you get married. If you are a follower of Christ, I challenge you to defy this trend. It will be to your benefit.
All over the world there are single men and women coming under the influence of the wine of this love. Yet, they do not bother to get a designated driver. In fact, most are offended at the recommendation that they may need other people in their life to help them navigate the road of relationship that connects singleness to married life. Many will whine, "I'm not a child. I want to figure this out myself."
The trouble is that they are figuring it out while, in essence, a little bit drunk. They forget how to get home. They say things they regret. And sometimes there are head-on collisions that result in heartbreak and sorrow.
What is a "designated driver"? It is certainly not a controlling matchmaker, like those of centuries past. It is not a nosy gossip or a hovering chaperone watching your every move. It is not even a relationship expert. What I am referring to is simply someone whom you trust, someone who knows you and your values and is willing to speak honestly to help you remember what your goals are in the midst of all the change and euphoria that a dating relationship can bring.
Here are 5 things that you can gain by including designated drivers into your love life:
1. The wisdom of experience.
By inviting other voices into your life in any area, you gain the wisdom of their collective experience. Only fools think they need to learn things the hard way. Wise people know that you can learn things from other peoples' failures and successes. If you find a handful of people in your life willing to be vulnerable enough to share their relational experience with you, take them up on it.
2. Another set of eyes for fresh perspective.
Understanding our own hearts can be confusing and learning about the opposite sex can be cryptic. Someone who is not right in the midst of the mess can certainly help bring clarity. Even the assurance that what you are facing is normal can be all you need to have the courage to overcome.
3. An ear to process with.
During dating relationships, as men and women are deciding if their lives will merge into covenant, it is nice to know that there are people celebrating with you in the joys, groaning with you in the embarrassments, and hurting with you in the struggles. As Christians we also can experience the value of having someone care enough to pray for you and with you.
4. Logical advice when it comes to sexual expression.
Staying in communication with a of couple people about your choices and intentions regarding expressions of affection can help you live beyond just the moment. If you are a follower of Christ, you need to remember that God is a good heavenly Father who lovingly put a boundary around the powerful force called sexuality. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He clearly explains in Scripture that the place for the expression of our sexuality is within the security and commitment of marriage. It’s better to acknowledge the strength of your desires and set some guidelines for yourselves than to ignore it and deal with constant frustration.
5. A voice of encouragement.
I believe that true friends are those who remind you of who you really are when you seem to have forgotten. Many people in relationships will look at their past and feel like it is predicting failure into their future. You remember the mistakes from past relationships or get a sense that you just don't have what it takes to be vulnerable with someone or enter a commitment. It is good to have someone cheering in your corner, reminding you that purity is not just the history of your body, but the direction and desire of your heart. You need someone looking you in the eye, telling you that though your parents’ marriage may have broken apart, there is hope through Jesus Christ for your future family.
The richness of sharing life with others is a rare thing these days. For some of you, maybe your parents can fill this role in your relationship. For others it may be a couple you respect or a mentor much older than you. Regardless of who it is, seek people out and have some open dialogue with them about what you want and what you feel the Holy Spirit has called you to. Your destiny is worth the investment.
Later, when they remind you of who you want to be, listen to them. Trust their insights.
Remember that it takes time and heartfelt persistence to build friendships. No matter how old we are or what stage of life you are in, inviting the wisdom, perspectives, conversations, and advice of others is a benefit. I pray that each one of you will find some people whom you can learn from and grow with.