Why is the Song of Songs Controversial?

Q. Why is the Old Testament book Song of Songs so controversial? Some people say it is inappropriate for the Bible.

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

From latter years of the Old Testament period, and down through Christian age, some have called the Song of Songs inappropriate because it speaks plainly of total love of man and woman in marriage. At the same time, this short book has had greater influence on Christian spirituality and theology than any other Old Testament writing.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux used the text of the Song of Songs to write 86 long and eloquent sermons, intending to write more when death intervened. The dying words of St. Thomas Aquinas are said to have been a line from the Song of Songs.

St. John of the Cross freely acknowledged his indebtedness to the Song of Songs for his works, especially his “Spiritual Canticle.” And whom did Blessed John Paul II name as his doctrinal “friend and master”? St. John of the Cross. In his introduction to the official text of Blessed John Paul’s Theology of the Body, Michael Waldstein characterizes the work as “Wojtyla’s Carmelite Personalism.”

Faithful commentators like these see in the union of husband and wife the ultimate human analogy for the union of the soul with God. The Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage far surpasses in depth and height anything ever written. We must pray for the Church to stand firm in defense of this truth in a time when the secular world is frantically trying to set it aside.