Our guest blogger today is Dannah Gresh, author of ‘What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex’. In it, she traces the Hebrew language of sex to answer some of today’s most practical questions about sexuality.
I was recently interviewed by CNN in a quest to answer the age long question: Is there a so-called soul mate for everyone? They even wanted to know if God’s plan included a soul mate. My heart was pounding as I sought to answer this. I’ve never really heard anyone answer it well, but I’ve certainly heard it asked a lot.
My thoughts turned to the ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament and as I rifled through my gleanings I had a moment of incredible eureka. Yes, I thought to myself, there certainly is a soul mate out there for everyone. And we find that answer in the language of sex and love.
There are two ancient Hebrew words for sex that I think help us to answer the question of whether or not we can expect to find a Soul Mate. The first is the word yada. (As in “Yada! Yada! Yada!) We find it for the first time in Genesis 4:1 where it reads: Adam lay (yada) with his wife Eve and she became pregnant and gave birth. It’s the word used to describe sexual intercourse within the confines of a committed, life-long relationship like marriage. It’s meaning is what leads me to believe that we can have a Soul Mate. You see, the word means “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” Without one mention of the physical act of sex, this word transcends the boundaries of what can be considered tangible and considers sex to be something emotional and perhaps even spiritual. There is a soul connection that occurs in the act of intimate, shameless sex.
A second Hebrew word for sex is shakab. It is a euphemism for sexual intercourse and is often paired with the word sikba which means “body fluid”. In essence, it means “to exchange body fluids.” It is limited to the physical and is used to reference sex between strangers, casual sex, one-night stands, rape, and incest. No one really wants a mere exchange of body fluids, do they? In most cases, we’re looking for something more. We prefer the pleasure of body to be accompanied with the incredible delight of truly being emotionally known and respected. We’re looking for a soul mate.
I can’t really jump off of a cliff and say that there is one soul mate out there for each person and we’re to engage in a quest to find that person. I’m not sure it works that way. I can say that a close look at the Hebrew language of love suggests that we are on a quest to choose that person. Big difference. Finding suggests we are looking for a needle in a haystack because there’s only one soul mate for you in the total population of 6,840,507,000. Choosing suggests that you’ll commit yourself to one with whom you are compatible and become soul mates. I think the Hebrew language of love in the scriptures suggests that this is how it happens.
There are many words for love in the Old Testament. One is ahabah. It suggests sexual desire and passion. To say you have ahabah would be to say you have fallen in love. Bad stuff always happened in the Old Testament when people fell in love. David and Bathsheba. Samson and Delilah. Brothers raping sisters. Not good. Not controlled. Not soulish, but very physical. Probably a lot of shakab in relationships that fell to ahabah. Even the sexual play manual of Song of Solomon warns: “Do not arouse or awaken my love (ahabah) until it so desires.” Rather, it encourages another love to grow first…committed, chosen love. This love is one that suggests life-long faithfulness, caring for, and security. It’s New Testament counterpart would be agape, a word perhaps familiar to you. It means that you lay your life down to honor the other person and serve them. Stifling if you lay yourself down and no one returns it, but beautiful if you both choose the sacrifice. And in that relationship, you can be known and respected in the marriage bed. It’s a choice!
I think we each have a soul mate. We are on a quest to choose him or her and to create such a secure space emotionally for one another that the soul connection we find is something spiritual. Happy choosing!