Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Song of Songs 3:5

Good advice here—don’t arouse or awaken sexual love until you’re in a place where it can be legally and ethically consummated. This refrain is repeated elsewhere (2:7; 8:4).

Today we live in a culture that seems to be doing all it can to arouse and awaken erotic love. Advertisers use scantily clad women to advertise everything from cars to toothpaste. Our world is filled with images designed to titillate the senses. Sex is promoted as an entitlement.

This creates enormous havoc particularly in the lives of young people who aren’t mature enough or responsible enough to handle the emotional responses that are involved in sexual relationships. Furthermore, sexual satisfaction is best found in committed long-term relationships.

God seeks to protect us from the emotional damage of awakening our sexual desires before they can be freely expressed. In the Levitical laws, we find an interesting restriction that women weren’t to be touched for the seven days of her monthly period (15:19-23). This may not be as restrictive as it first appears. Generally, women in this culture married young, had large families and breastfed for longer than is normal in our culture, so their cycles were much longer.

Therefore the biggest impact of this law would’ve been on unmarried teenage girls. The implications would make God-fearing young men cautious of having physical contact with young women and therefore not arouse love prematurely.

While we don’t live under the Levitical laws today, they serve an important indicator of God’s desires. We live in a sex-saturated world and God’s word challenges us to live sexually pure lives while living in its midst.