What is spiritual about sexuality?

Insights from a wisdom reading of Song of Songs


  • Marlene Oosthuizen University of the Free State




sexuality, Song of Songs, wisdom, spirituality , wisdom literature


Imaginative variations in hermeneutical approaches to Song of Songs show the interpreters’ struggle to understand the presence of this sexual text within the Holy Bible. Even the broad scholarly consensus, labelling the Song’s genre as “mere” love poetry signals the perception of an absence of theological meaning. The inability of interpreters to find theological meaning in an Israelite text about sexuality reflects a societal dualism where sexuality is viewed as secular and removed from the realm of spirituality.

In this article, a frame of reference is constructed with typical wisdom characteristics and used as a lens with which to explore the meaning of Song of Songs. The frame of reference includes vocabulary, form, rhetoric, metaphors, anthropology, order, the threat of chaos, scepticism, critique, and knowledge of God.

Using wisdom as a hermeneutical approach to reading Song of Songs uncovers a sexual theology that claims a Creator-conscious sexuality and a pleasure-affirming spirituality.