His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.Song of Solomon 5:16
Who should one marry or get married to, is a question the married must have pondered and the singles who intend to marry will probably ponder. Why do you marry or get married is an equally serious question. These questions need answers in order to safely go into a happy sustainable marriage. The person you marry will affect the rest of your remaining life and even the life to come. If you succeed in everything and fail in marriage, you will have lost almost everything and you may be bound to a life of misery and pain the rest of your life. The person to marry is too critical to the quality of life you will live. Who to marry – lover or friend?
The book Song of Solomon aka Song of songs, is God’s message to us, about the human love that He gave us (We have an article that does a brief general introduction to the book, the blog is titled – An Introduction To The Song of songs). The man, woman and friends in the book poetically dramatize love. In chapter 5 of the book, it seems the man and the lady have had a disagreement. The man leaves as a result of the conflict and the lady sets out to pursue him, in darkness and along the streets. The lady goes around asking friends if they have seen her lover, her man.
O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you–if you find my lover, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love.Song of Solomon 5:8-9
How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women? How is your beloved better than others, that you charge us so?
The friends ask the lady, why she insists on this man and not other men with equal qualities? A question we too need to ask. Why marry this particular man or woman? Why not any man or woman? The friends’ question is, what makes your beloved better than others?
In Song of Solomon 5:10-16 the lady responds to her friends, why her lover, who she seeks, is better than others, and not exchangeable with any. At the end of her response they seem persuaded and they join her in searching for him (seeking reconciliation or helping to reconcile). What was this convincing answer that she gave them? After describing her lover as physically attractive and a good person, she concludes with a final loaded reason, he is my lover and my friend!
If you marry to have children, it is not a good enough sustainable reason for marriage, because you can have children with anyone who is biologically fit. If you marry for companionship, companions are many, even parents and siblings are reliable companions. If you marry for physical looks, there are physically good looking people and yet they don’t all qualify. If you marry just for love, remember we are to love and be loved as God loved us. Love is all over. It is supposed to be from everyone to everyone. Love can be with someone you shouldn’t marry. We truly love our relatives, children, people of the same gender and non-believers, but we shouldn’t marry them! Love in itself is not a good reason. You need reasons that make your choice unique compared to others, and avoid reasons that can easily be replaced or out done by others. Who to marry – lover or friend?
A lover should also be a friend in order to qualify for marriage. We have so many friends in life, but when we think of marriage, we forget them and start looking for a qualified husband or wife. We set out with a list of qualifications, like an organization seeking employees. We leave all friends and look for a wife or husband material. We look for Mr Right and Miss Right. Everyone seeing our choice approves of the person. Then you get married and life becomes impossible. Why? He/she is not your lover and friend!
If you want to marry or get married, avoid the right person who fits a certain list of qualifications. Look among friends you have known for long and who know you too. Friends who have got your back through thick and thin. Friends who you can face life together. The one you love toward marriage should also be a friend. The lady in Song of songs says of her lover, he is my lover and friend!
A lover in this context is limited to admirability, sexual attraction and intimacy. A lover has limited scope to operate. A lover picks certain qualities and gets attached to them. If those qualities vanish, their interest vanishes too. That is why a lover must also be a friend. A friend has a wider scope. A friend is a companion, a confidant, a refuge, and a back up when life weighs us down. Friendship just happens and develops over time. Friendship unlike love is not at first sight or over night. Friendship takes time and tests. The friendship bond grows stronger everyday. A friend gets closer even than a sibling.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.Proverbs 18:24
Not all friends stick close to you, but God provides one, who sticks closer than a brother! In marriage, we seek that friend of the opposite gender, who sticks closer than a brother. Friendship is strong, and this is what the marriage challenge demands. Those other qualifications for marriage, without friendship, will not last for long and are not useful.
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.”1 Samuel 18:3
David and Jonathan were each married, but they loved each other. Their love was so strong that the Bible takes note of it. Jonathan went out of his way and even risked his life to make sure his friend David was safe from his father King Saul. Some people have wrongly insinuated that this was homosexual love. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible has condemned homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah and in various other passages in the Bible. The Bible would have made it open and condemned it even at this point. The God who condemned David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba could also have condemned homosexuality between Jonathan and David. Therefore this was not a homosexual relationship. It was purely friendship at its best. Friendship can be so close that, everybody notes that, those two truly love each other. This is the kind of friendship that marriage needs. No wonder the friends of the lady in the Song of songs, immediately get convinced to help her, when she responds that, he is my lover and my friend!
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.John 15:15
Jesus informs the disciples that He has upgraded them to the highest possible level, by calling them friends. Friendship according to Jesus, entails more and is closer than a servant who is just employed. A friend is gladly given full access. While an employee is given necessary access for their duty. When you seek a marriage partner who fits a certain list, but isn’t a friend, that is a servant, serving as either husband or wife. Servants are assessed, servants can be fired, and servants must struggle to prove their worth. Jesus prefers if we are friends. Friends are accepted and tolerated and cannot be fired. Servants are for the working season, friends are for all time and a life time. A lover is important, but love itself as we interpret it can face challenges. A lover should also be a friend. Who to marry – a lover or a friend?
Somebody anonymous has expressed the importance of friendship by asking the following questions. “A woman who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. Children who lose parents are called orphans. But what do you call a person who loses a friend?” No language has found an appropriate name for a person who loses a friend. Even language seems overwhelmed with empathy, that it cant find a name. Friendship is deep and great. Friendship is God given. Friendship develops over time. What a blessing if you can say of your marriage partner that is or to be, that he/she is my lover and my friend!
Marriage conflicts become complicated because the partners were never and are never friends. They don’t work together to make the marriage work. They don’t help each other to make the marriage work. They behave like employers of the right person, they expect each other to play the role for which they were employed. They make demands of each other as employers of the right person would do. They fault each other as employers do. They don’t relate with each other, instead, they supervise each other. Supervision to ensure productivity is their goal, quality of the relationship, doesn’t matter, as long as the other one is productive in their role. They seek to end the marriage because roles were poorly played, like employers they say of their partner that, you are incompetent and unreliable. This is because, marriage from the start, was to them an employment of a person to fill the position of husband or wife, and Mr Right and Miss Right was found. If instead marriage was choosing the most friendly member of the opposite gender to live with, then conflicts would be resolved differently. Who to marry – lover or friend? The lady in the Song of songs says, he is both, my love and my friend!
The common mistake is that we go through life without making friends, as we pursue education and money. We trample on people, abuse them, look down upon them and ignore them. We are focused on our goals, and friends seem to be unnecessary and interruptive. When we discover its time to marry, we treat it as a search for an employee to fill in a position of husband or wife. We develop an actual or mental list of the right person. When we find the so called right person, we persuade them using all means to join our organisation called my life. Just the way employers persuade the potential employees that they need. Once they come in, we develop expectations without a relationship, and we become less enticing because we think, our presence in their lives is sufficient salary and they should be grateful and perform their best. The people many end up marrying are neither lovers nor friends, its Mr Right and Miss Right, covered up in the name darling, fiancee, sweetheart, babe, etc.
When conflict arises, then employer – employee relationship emerges. Accusations are traded over incompetence or betrayal of their role. When conflicts occur, the attitude is, I would rather do without this employee (husband or wife). Remember, you can never afford to lose a friend, but you can lose an employee. When conflicts occur, the complainant (either husband or wife) demands the employee (either husband or wife) to improve performance, they never seek to create or restore friendship. Words that are traded and exposed before a counsellor may improve the employee’s performance out of fear of divorce, but will never restore the critical desired friendship. The increasing divorce cases after marriage are not the parting of friends, but the firing of employees who couldn’t meet expectations in their duties as husband or wife. It would be completely different if the two could say of each other as the lady in the Song of songs says, he is my lover and my friend.
What about other qualities? Friendship encompasses all possible desired qualities in marriage. You can not be friend very closely a person whose qualities totally conflict with yours. You cannot truly be very close to a person who you cant agree in matters of God. You cannot truly be friendly to a lazy person who you have to always support. You cannot truly be friendly to a person who abuses drugs, smokes, drinks and is bound to ruin, yet this is not your life style. Unless in desperation you are blind to the reality of the consequences of living with such a person. The issues of qualities to look for is taken care of by God guided friendship. A true friend should already be of the same faith. A true friend is a great companion. A friend is a friend because they are right.
May God help the unmarried to find true friends first and above all. Because nothing is impossible with God, may He help the married to become friends, even if they were not. May we all from today hence forth be able to truly say, he/she is my lover and my friend, in Jesus name. Amen! (C)firstname.lastname@example.org (do not delete any part of this post, including this. You are free to share these posts, but don’t edit the authorship or content…thank you and be blessed!)