Conversation: Tommy Nelson
ÒFor many people, the Song of Solomon is the mystery book of the Bible,Ó says Tommy Nelson. ÒTucked among the books of the Bible in the section called the Wisdom Literature, the Song of Solomon has the distinction of being the only book of the Bible that seems to have been edited and censored by the Christian church. Most Christians donÕt read it, donÕt understand it, and have never heard a sermon about it.Ó
Historically the church has seen the Song of Solomon predominately as an allegory of the love of Christ for His bride, the Church.
For 10 years Nelson has been explaining the bookÕs more direct meaning in his popular ÒSong of Solomon Conferences,Ó which are delivered to more than 20,000 people each year. Nelson takes his audiences through the story of Solomon and his bride, creating a blueprint for marriage that covers everything from courtship to the wedding night to resolving marital conflict.
Nelson is also an author and has been senior pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas, since 1977. He has been married to his wife, Teresa, for more than 30 years and has two sons and two grandchildren. Nelson spoke recently with Assistant Editor Ashli OÕConnell.
tpe: What is the primary message of the Song of Solomon?
NELSON: Based on what God knows about us, He has provided an instruction manual in the Song of Solomon with eight very enlightening and highly practical chapters on the topics of love, sex and intimacy.
The bottom line is that marriage is a divine institution. Sexuality is normal and good and divinely intended. ItÕs to be refrained from by singles as it can harm your future relationship. Next, sexuality is not just something that you endure for the sake of having children; it is to be enjoyed.
tpe: In your experience, whatÕs the number one thing that keeps Christians from experiencing intimacy in their marriages the way God intended?
NELSON: One thing is sin. You are not intimate with someone you donÕt respect and you donÕt respect someone you donÕt like and you donÕt like the unholy. So whenever youÕre not courteous and nice, intimacy ends. You have to be courteous and nice.
Secondly, there are a lot of Christian women who feel that sensuality is evil. And men feel that romance is weak. When you put together a man who thinks that romance is weak and a woman who thinks that sensuality is evil, youÕre going to have a very boring relationship.
tpe: What is the most important message you have for men?
NELSON: For men I would say, be a servant to your wife. Be polite. Treat your wife like you would a stranger. WeÕre always extremely polite to strangers. So I say to men, be courteous, be nice, be appreciative of who your wife is. DonÕt take your wife for granted.
tpe: And to women?
NELSON: Be exciting. DonÕt be a woman who is just enduring sex for the proliferation of the human race.
tpe: Children seem to be intimacy killers. Parents want to give everything to their children, and when you have young children that seems to take everything you have. What advice do you have for new parents to preserve intimacy and why is it important?
NELSON: Nothing is worse for your marriage than building your marriage on your children. Nothing is worse for your children than building your marriage on your children. You have to build your marriage on each other.
When you have young children, you have to plan for intimacy. Put those children to bed. Women are the biggest problem with kids because women donÕt emotionally leave their children. They have to give their heads and their hearts back to their husbands.
tpe: Can a believer whose spouse is not a Christian use these principles to make their marriage stronger?
NELSON: What you can do is bloom where youÕre planted. First Corinthians 7 says that as a believer you sanctify the unbelieving spouse. A wife is not going to convert and change her husband by preaching to him. But she can be as good a wife as she can be. She can make her man thankful that God has saved his wife.
tpe: Why should improving marriage be a priority for couples?
NELSON: When your marriage is in trouble, your life is in trouble. You canÕt have a bad marriage and an enjoyable life. ItÕs like having an abscessed tooth at Disney World. It just colors the whole experience. You have to concentrate on your marriage. Spend time with God every day. He is your standard. You have to love as He has told you to love.
tpe: Talk about the conferences you are now sponsoring for teenagers.
NELSON: I want this message to reach a new generation before it is too late. My generation fired God in the whole area of sexuality. Now this generation of students is suffering for it. Every day young people across the country experience the pain and heartache of sexuality out of control.
Love, sex, marriage and romance can be the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde of life. On one hand, they give us great joy and satisfy deep desires and needs, but they also can turn on us and plunge our lives into terrible pain. God has given us these desires, drives and needs. God also gave us the Song of Solomon to understand His design for how to fulfill them. Young people need to start learning the way He shows us before itÕs too late.
For more information on the Song of Solomon visit www.TommyNelsonOnline.com.
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