Immoral Interpretation of Song of Songs


Be advised: the post from another board which I quote below–relating to a non-Catholics interpretation of the Song of Songs-- is somewhat graphic and is immoral.

I quote it because I want to be able to respond to his argument by getting some help understanding it.

I’ve heard this before: that the Song of Songs shows that the primary purpose of sex is not procreation, since it doesn’t even mention having children.

But a poster on another board goes further, claiming that it sanctions masturbation, etc.

He writes:

*So what I am listing here is strictly from the peshat layer. (plain simple meaning) the symbolism is common with other erotic poetry from other cultures in the area in the 1000 bc era.

Unless specified in the text as something else, whenever you see garden or flowers (specifically lilies) it is a reference to female genitals. Myrrh (and occasionally frankincense) refers to the wetness of female arousal. Fountain refers to ejaculation. (also used in Proverbs)

So the “mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense” in SOS 4.16 then would refer to her mons pubis. (so does “bether” in SOS 2.17)

SOS 5.5 says her fingers were dripping with myrrh. masturbation
SOS 5.13 talks about his lips dripping with myrrh. Oral sex on her.
SOS 6.2 “pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies” Oral sex on her.
SOS 2.6 and 8.3 “his right hand embrace me” refers to manual stimulation.
SOS 6.11 “orchard of nut trees” referring to his gentials; either oral or manual stimulation on him.*

#2 of Songs&ch=


St. John of the Cross interprets the
Song of Songs as a SPIRITUAL journey,
how the lovers interact and how the steps
of the love relationship parallels the Love
relationship we have with our God.
The summit of the Song of Songs is Cant.
8:6 where the beloved gasps: “Love is as
strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as
the grave, it burns like blazing fire, like a
mighty flame.” Heb. 12:29 echoes this:
“Our God is a consuming fire”.


well, before you can have a spiritual meaning, which later Christians could say, “Look, at some level it’s about…” there has to be a physical one that the Jews who wrote it and lived with it for centuries before Christ’s arrival would understand.

And while, having studied the Canticle of Canticles, and come across the claim before, I think the whole masturbation thing is a bit strained, there are verses (4:5 comes to mind…actually all chapter 4 after that) that you get as being pretty darned sexual without too much esoteric Near Eastern metaphor.

and I mean, it is largely about the yichud, which is to say it is largely about sex. It also contains admonitions to chastity (8:8-10), because sex has a proper place.

You know, the Bible has lots of rough language in it that we take out with churchy translations. Nude paintings are in Renaissance churches. And marriage, and the marital act, is holy.

As is married love. I think we have a different sense of the word “erotic” than earlier people did, so while I would say that in one sense it is “erotic,” in an uncorrupted sense of the word, I agree with you that it is not erotic in the way that this guy probably thinks it is, for he probably thinks of erotic in its contemporary sense of “designed to sexually titillate.” That is false.


Thanks 1ke,

I tried to understand some of that. All I can get out of it so far is that the poem is an allegory of Christ’s love for the Church.

But what, for example, does it mean, for example, when it says that her hands are dripping myrrh? (He claims it is referring to masturbation, which I’m sure it is not. But I don’t know what it is referring to.)


well, patricius79, mhyrr is to this day used in massage oil and in perfume, so hands dripping with myrrh is probably literal literal myrrh on her literal hands, because it’s a man and woman on their wedding night.

And, everybody realizes that this was written before Jesus was ever born, right? I mean, in one sense Exodus is about Jesus, right - Saint Paul says so explicitly, and so does the Liturgy imply it. But, Exodus made sense to people who wrote and read it for centuries before Jesus was ever born.

So, while the Song of Songs on one level about Jesus love for his Church, that is because the Song’s about a holy love between a man and a woman, and as Saint Paul teaches us, all marriage is a reflection of God and his Church.


I would like to see where that guy got his sources for his interpretation of the symbolism…


Thanks, guys. That’s helpful.


Out of… thin air… of course.


It’s about God’s purposes for the Church but that conflicts with catholic mentality so the JP II Army have hijacked it.


You know, I reread the Song of Songs a bit ago, and, yeah, I am gonna say hands dripping with myrrh, myrrh is most likely vaginal fluid.

But reading it in context, and start at verse two and go to at least verse seven to get some context, I think that this is meant to be a wet dream. So, the masturbation is not exactly immoral if the speaker was asleep.


And, as I said before, this book does get fairly obviously about sex in obvious not even metaphorized ways. That should not scandalize you though.


I understand, just say morality wins, we can understand its factual meaning.


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