The Book of Romance, Part 2
About the Guest
Today, Tommy Nelson, senior pastor of Denton Bible Church and author of The Book of Romance: What Solomon says about Love, Sex and Intimacy, continues to share how couples can fan the flames of love in their marriage.
Tom NelsonTom Nelson has been the pastor of Denton Bible Church, in Denton, Texas since 1977. Each year, Tom speaks to over 20,000 Song of Solomon Conference attendees and countless others via radio. In addition to the Song of Solomon materials, he is author of three books: The Book of Romance, The Big Picture: Understanding the Story of the Bible, and The Problem of Life with God. Tom has been married to Teresa Nelson for more than 30 years, and they have two grown sons, Ben and Joh...more
Today, Tommy Nelson, senior pastor of Denton Bible Church and author of The Book of Romance: What Solomon says about Love, Sex and Intimacy, continues to share how couples can fan the flames of love in their marriage.
The Book of Romance, Part 2
Man: Okay, I'll be honest. Being honest.
Bob: Would you consider yourself romantically challenged?
Man: Maybe, I don't know.
Bob: Is it possible you could use a little coaching on romance?
Man: Sure, I could stand a little bit of help, maybe.
Bob: Well, take heart, you're not alone. Here is Tommy Nelson.
Man: Okay, Tommy Nelson. What does Tommy Nelson know about romance?
Tommy: Here is the way I do a love letter to my wife.
Man: Oh, a love letter. I can do a love letter. Let's see, get something to write on here. Here's a paper sack right here.
Tommy: All right, I've got this legal pad in front of me.
Man: Oh, a legal pad.
Tommy: And I'm thinking, you know, all this talk about romance just makes me think about my wife. What would I write?
Man: Okay, and let's say, "Dear Anita."
Tommy: The first thing you write when you write a romantic note is you don't say "Dear Theresa," all right?
Man: Exactly, that's not my wife's name, anyway. "Dearest" – "Dearest Anita."
Tommy: You've got to do better than that.
Man: Okay, "Dearest – my dearest – my" …
Tommy: I would say, "My sweet doll," all right?
Man: Okay, I gotcha (wadding up paper), I can do that. "My sweet" …
Tommy: "My dear girl."
Man: (Wadding up paper) – "My sweet" – no – "My dear" …
Tommy: "My sweet angel."
Man: (Wadding up paper) – Tommy – "My sweet" …
Tommy: All right, I would address her like that.
Man: … "angelic girl doll." There, that will make her heart melt.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 30th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. And if you could use a little creative help in your romance, stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We're talking this week about romance, and with Valentine's Day just around the corner, it seems to me that this is an appropriate subject for us to be dealing with.
Dennis: You know, I noticed you took a lot of notes on the broadcast yesterday.
Bob: Took a lot of notes? I took the book home, I've underlined it, read passages to my wife.
Dennis: This has been fun, because you and I have featured Tommy Nelson's ministry here on the broadcast on numerous occasions, and it's fun to finally meet the man behind the book of the Song of Solomon. Now, you didn't write the book. We talked about that yesterday.
Tommy: I didn't write it, I just edited it.
Dennis: But you wrote your own book called "The Book of" …
Tommy: "The Book of Romance."
Bob: If I were to ask your wife …
Tommy: … oh, wow …
Bob: … to name the most romantic moment in your years of marriage …
Tommy: Probably – I'm a pretty prolific write of love notes, but I …
Dennis: You've kind of got an interesting look on your face right now.
Bob: Even as you describe that.
Dennis: You're turning red now, you're reading some of them.
Bob: When was the last time you wrote a note like that to your wife?
Tommy: Oh, six weeks ago.
Bob: Okay, all right.
Tommy: But, on one occasion, probably the most romantic time – my wife – I just had her come over and sit on the recliner there. We just sat down together, and I had a love letter that I was going to read her. I just wasn't going to give it to her, I said, "I want to read it to you." And I began to read it to her and just – did you ever try to do that, where you just reach down deep to your wife, and you just cry, and I did. I think she would probably tell you that was the most romantic thing.
I've taken her out and dropped money on her, done everything else in the world, but – given her gifts, out of the blue, gifts, shameless gifts, but I think that was probably the most tender time, as her husband, trying to tell her …
Dennis: Hold it, hold it, what do you mean shameless?
Tommy: Shameless meaning a totally unwise steward of God's money, and threw it away.
Dennis: You're a pastor, and you did that?
Tommy: Yeah, and I threw it away. I tell guys, "Throw away money on your wife, man. The greatest place in the world to spend money is on your wife," and so I shamelessly throw money away.
Bob: Do you know what my wife said the most romantic thing I've ever done is?
Dennis: You're going to love this.
Bob: My wife said the most romantic thing I've ever done is drying the dishes …
Bob: And I thought to myself, "That's romance?" I'm picturing love notes and the mushy stuff you're talking about.
Bob: She picks drying the dishes.
Tommy: Laura Schlesinger, I believe it was, said that the sound of a vacuum cleaner is foreplay, and there's a lot of truth to that.
My wife might tell you, also, I wrote a pretty impassioned note to her on one occasion, and I put it in her Bible, and I know right where she sits in church, and I stood up, and then she opened her Bible to the text that I knew she was going to be, because that was what I'm teaching, and I looked at her, and she saw this note, and I watch her open it up, and I watch her read it, and I watch this – oh, I think married men know "the look." It was just a great look that she gave me. You know, "There will be a recompense to you later on."
Dennis: You know what we're going to do before the broadcast is over today?
Tommy: What's that?
Dennis: I'm going to give you a chance to write a love letter …
Tommy: … oh, dear …
Dennis: … and let about a half-million people listen in.
Bob: It's because guys like us need some examples.
Dennis: That's my point. I think he's already inspiring the men who are listening to this broadcast.
Tommy: They need to. You'd be amazed, the great, brilliant white-collar guys that I meet that cannot put three words together when it comes down – they can build industries, but they can't turn to their wives and speak anything romantic.
Dennis: If you were going to instruct a single person who is starting out, and I know you've done a lot of ministries – we talked about yesterday, Tommy – to singles. If you were going to instruct singles in developing relationships and starting down – well, in the direction of marriage, would you instruct them to date?
Tommy: In a sense, I would. I think what I would tell them to do is to be very wise as to what can happen when a single virile man and a single virile woman get alone for any amount of time with a great need called sexuality, intimacy, and marriage, there are – I mean, you're talking about kindling and sparks right here, and you need – if you're going to borrow my car, that's one thing, you know, but if you're going to take my daughter out, or if I'm going to entrust my son – I have two sons, and I'm as scared to turn them loose with some girls. And I'm going to say to them, you know, "If you take my car and wreck it, that's okay. I can get me another one. I have nothing but an irritation. You hurt my kid, and you've hurt me worse than if you hurt me that you hurt my kid. So it's a dangerous thing – to date.
Dennis: How are you warning your daughters about romance and this chemical catalytic reaction that can occur around romance and sexuality?
Tommy: I tell them first that it is, just by very definition, it's a dangerous institution – to be alone – one of the best things you can is make sure when you date you go to a public place and enjoy it. You go out to eat, and you spend time in public, I tell them – or you go out with buddies. Because with buddies, you really get to see how they act in a group setting.
Another thing I tell them to do is to beware of escalating. There is something that's intoxicating about romance, and we love it, and we tend to race foolhardy into it, and this guy will – and I tell guys about this – don't be taking that girl's hand – these Christian guys – don't take that girl's hand and look into her eyes and call her by her name and say, "Could I just please pray and ask God's anointing on our date here as we begin?"
And they offer up this marvelous prayer, interceding for this girl and her future life, and then they carry her away, and on the date they go down deep into their past as to where they've come from, and it's a heart-wrenching kind of a time. And you have a problem reproducing it, but a lot of times it escalates a relationship, and then you go from that to handholding, shoulder-holding, waist-holding, body embracing, kissing on the cheek, and it just keeps going.
And so those two things – deep, deep sharing and physical affection escalate a relationship, and they awaken love "before it pleases." And so –
Dennis: That's a phrase from the Song of Solomon.
Tommy: From the Song of Solomon.
Bob: You know, if my wife were here, she'd be nodding, particularly, about what she thinks is the unguarded emotional attachment. We've spent a lot of time over the last number of years warning teenagers to wait.
Tommy: When I see, Bob, in a mall, I see a guy and a girl, they're 16 years old, they're hand in hand, arm in arm. To me, that's the most dangerous – the idea of – whatever you want to call it – the going-steady idea of building a continual relationship that gets deeper and deeper and, again, it's lighter fluid. You're building enormous lighter fluid in there, and it's got to go into one place, and that's the place that God intends it to go.
Bob: As we've raised our girls, Mary Ann has pointed to Proverbs, "Guard your hearts," because that's the key. You can be as damaged emotionally as you can be sexually by giving your heart to a young 16-year-old who has no stewarding of your heart the way he ought to.
Dennis: I'll tell you, it's happening today with teenage young even in our Christian youth groups. I mean, this is emotional incest among brothers and sisters in Christ where they are sharing on levels that were meant for marriage.
Bob: That's right.
Dennis: They're teenagers, they're not emotionally enough, their character is not mature enough, and yet we just had a conversation with one of our teenagers around this very subject, saying, "You know, this is a friendship. Keep it on a friendship level. There are certain things you shouldn't enter into right now. It's just not appropriate."
Tommy: And you have to discipline yourself, because it feels so good – intimacy is marvelous, and it feels great.
Dennis: It makes you feel important.
Tommy: Yeah, and you play like – and, of course, you get deeper and deeper and pretty soon you get kids playing house – basically, they're playing house.
This is where, when you talk to singles about dating, they'll look at it with two kind of ways. One is, you know, "I'm lonely, and I'd love somebody to date," another one is, "I'd be glad if I never had to date again for the rest of my life." But the great pain that comes from dating is twofold.
One is having your heart broken by people that draw you in, and a lot of times it's not really – it's an unwitting thing that draw you in so close, build that bond, start doing things that married couples do. He calls her "Sweetheart," she calls him "Honey," "Sugar," there's affection, there's tenderness. All of a sudden, the guy starts feeling what is called responsibility, and he flees from it and breaks her heart.
Tommy: Yeah, and this is why guys and girls – girls can do it to guys, guys can do it with girls. I like your term, they weren't "stewards" of that person's heart. They didn't have a responsibility, and that's what they hate. And the other one, of course, is when it goes on to the point of immorality, and now someone doesn't merely shine up to you and hurt you, they take something from you.
Dennis: Barbara and I had a conversation a number of months ago with one of our teenagers, and a person of the opposite sex who was showing some interest, and we called this meeting because there was a lack of understanding from the young man who was kind of hanging out at our house. She made an interesting observation to that young man that I'm not sure he could understand at his age, but it was profound.
She turned to him, and she said, "You know, young man, there is something within a lady, a woman, that was meant to be a helpmate. God made them to want to complete, to want to come alongside, and we have watched each of our daughters as they have emerged into womanhood become young ladies who, when a young man shares a problem, they become a rescuer. And that young man shares a problem, that teenage girl rushes in to rescue him, to help him to meet that need."
And what happens is a cementing of the souls. And, you know, Barbara was saying, "You know, you two need to keep this friendship at a level that guards your heart." And I think of the singles who are listening to today's broadcast, Tommy, who you've instructed for years at the Metro Bible Study, relationally speaking, these are tough issues for them because they're lonely, they are wanting a relationship, and they don't know how to take those steps, and they feel awkward, and they don't know how to go forward, and yet they want some romance; they like the attraction. How do they step forward into that?
Tommy: What there has to be is if you – let's say you have the silhouette, I call it, of who you will date. Let's say if I'm a single guy, I'm going to date a Christian girl who is faithful in church. She doesn't have a crucifix on. She's faithful in a church who is a Bible reader that has a good testimony. Well, I see this girl, let's say, and I approach her and ask her if she'd like to go out for coffee. We go out and drink coffee, and I enjoy the time.
Here, a bit later on, we're going to go watch the Cowboys, and a couple of other buddies, and we'll go out, and maybe we'll watch the Cowboys play. Then I get to really – I'm thinking "This may not be the girl," but I'm thinking, "This is sure the right kind of girl." That girl has no obligations to go out with me, and if I go out with her once, she has no recognition to expect that I have to do some things.
But if I start taking her out a couple or two or three times, I better start speaking up in someway. Now, back in the old days, I'd go to her father. Well, let's say that maybe I don't do that today. Maybe she's not around her father. What I had better do, if I see this dating really becoming an attraction, and I'm thinking this is the kind of girl I want to spend my life with, this kind of girl. Is the one? I don't know, but she's sure the right kind.
I spend time, and I'm getting to thinking, "I think she really likes me and enjoys me." Well, at some point, I want to communicate to her, and I want to open the door for her to leave. But once I think that it's going somewhere, I need to communicate with her and let her know what I'm thinking. If she says no, I don't need to show up again. I don't need to become what's called a "Norman Bates," you know, this crazy individual that keeps showing up at her house.
If she says yes, now we start seeing each other, and this is where, Dennis, you have to really watch out, because everything in you now starts to ignite. You want to race full ahead, and this is where a man has to have – and a woman – have to have extreme self-control.
Dennis: Now we're talking about really guarding your heart, and I like where you started this relationship out. You're talking about defining a relationship verbally rather than physically.
Bob: Which is a man's responsibility.
Tommy: Yes, it is. In the book the woman is always breakneck speed. It's the guy that takes charge and says "Not yet, not yet." And after I've dated that girl for a while, and we continue, now you're moving into what's called "courtship," just like the old English era when you wanted to entertain a girl so as to win her hand, you would treat her as princely, as queenly, and you would court her as in the court.
And it was a very determined idea. To court a girl means that you are definitive; you mean to win her and make her your wife. And so you have to have a transition. This, incidentally, is where girls are the most complaining. Guys don't talk, they just hook them. Or they'll just plunge on ahead. A guy needs to say to her, "I am falling in love with you. I'm coming to that point. If you tell me to go away, I have nothing to complain about. But I would like to take this on as perhaps we could spend some time with a married couple and ask them some questions, and we could really investigate as to whether we could spend our lives together."
And if she says yes, now you're moving to a new area , and this is where, again, there has to be even more caution because you know that she would like to get physical – and she knows it. And you know that you would like, and there has to be – there no longer is a fear of "what if I'm rejected?" Because a lot of times that will keep you from immorality – the fear of rejection.
At this point of courtship, that fear of rejection isn't there as much because you know how they're feeling, and you have to have that kind of being a custodian of that person's heart – "I will not hurt this person."
Bob: You're talking about a level of maturity – I think back to when I was 18, 19 years old – the assignment for me, as a dad, is to get my boys to 16 with that level of maturity so that they handle it right.
Tommy: Yeah, amen.
Dennis: You're coaching singles as well as mother and fathers in the right direction here, because it is our responsibility, first and foremost, and then to those singles who have grown up without that, let Tommy Nelson be your surrogate dad through this book for a while and get it right. I mean, this is too important a choice to mess around with and do it wrong again.
Tommy: And this is basic stuff. This stuff shouldn't be …
Bob: You're trying not to say rocket science.
Tommy: Well, revelatory to where guys are listening on this radio program going, "I'll be dogged, would you listen to that?" See, it should have been something. This is common sense stuff. This is stuff, if you were a pagan, you would figure out – that you don't want to hurt people. This is something that youth directors need to sit down and go, you know, observation, dating, courtship, maturity.
Dennis: But, you know, Tommy, this is aha material.
Tommy: Yeah, and, sadly enough, it is.
Dennis: Because of the condition of the family today, they've got young people who are getting – they're getting their signals from media and, man, that's …
Bob: Well, you know, you've seen this. You've taught this material from the Song of Solomon to singles in the Dallas area. In fact, the CDs that we have in our FamilyLife Resource Center where you teach through the Song of Solomon, many of our listeners have ordered these CDs from us, and it's material that was first presented to singles.
They need the basics at the beginning; they need to be reprogrammed and retrained, and you do the same thing with the book you've written, which is called "The Book of Romance, What Solomon Says about Love and Sex and Intimacy," and we've got the CDs and the book and more available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. In fact, with Valentine's Day coming up, when you go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and you click the red button that says "Go," I'm going to see if I can get them to change that red button to a heart for Valentine's Day. Do you think that's a good idea?
It will either be a red button or a heart, and you'll see how much influence I have around here when you go to our website, FamilyLife.com. Anyway, click that red thing, whatever it is, in the middle of the page, and that will take you to an area where you can get more information about resources like Tommy Nelson's book, "The Book of Romance," the Song of Solomon CD series, other resources that are available from us at FamilyLife designed to help singles who are considering marriage, even singles who would like to be married but don't have somebody particular in mind yet. They just want to make sure they know what to look for and how to build a healthy relationship at the right time, all the way through to couples who have been married 20, 30, 40 years, and want to maintain romance and passion as a part of your marriage.
All of this is on our website, FamilyLife.com. Click the red thing in the middle of the home page, and that will take you right to the area of the website where there are lots of romance resources available from us here at FamilyLife, including "The Book of Romance" by our guest today, Tommy Nelson, and the Song of Solomon CD series.
In fact, the rest of this week we're going to hear excerpts from that Song of Solomon CD series, so our listeners will get a taste of what you shared with those singles in Dallas as you presented this material several years ago.
You can also call us for more information about these resources at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Dennis?
Dennis: Well, Tommy, this has been fun, over the past couple of days, to talk with you. In fact, we need to spend more time on this, but I promised I would come back here at the end of the broadcast and give you a chance to wax eloquent; to stand tall, and to let us eavesdrop – just a few hundred thousand of your friends out there, your fans, and they want to hear how you do a love letter.
Tommy: How do you do a love letter?
Dennis: To your wife, Theresa, and so …
Tommy: What I want to do is, I'll go ahead and write one, and I'll write it for them, and at $20 a pop, if they'll just write to this address – just kidding.
Dennis: No, Tommy, we're not going there, we're not going there, but here's what I want you to do. We're going to set Theresa across the table, and we're all going …
Bob: Just pretend like I'm her.
Dennis: Just pretend like 400,000 or 500,000 people don't exist, and just speak to her as you're going to be speaking probably on this day. I mean, you'd be a fool if you didn't tell her to tune in.
Tommy: Yes. You know, let's just supposed – I'll tell you what I'd do, here is the way I'd do a love letter to my wife if – let's say that you guys all had to go off and make a meeting, and I'm left here alone, all right? I've got this legal pad in front of me, and I'm thinking, you know, all this talk about romance just makes me think about my wife. What would I write?
The first think you write, when you write a romantic note, is you don't say "Dear Theresa," all right? You've got to do better than that. I'd go, "My Sweet Doll," all right?
Dennis: It's too bad radio doesn't have cameras right now, because the face is worth 1,000 words.
Tommy: I'd say, "My dear girl, my sweet angel," all right? I would address her like that. I would say, "I just did the program with Dennis and Bob, and they all headed off to get a bite, and it made me think of you, and I just wanted to write to you thanking you and blessing you that I have nothing but good things to share about you.
I thought more and more about me doing this program and getting heard by many, and yet you're back" – I'm choking up. I'm going to cry right on your program – "you're back at the house, and you're working hard, and you're the person that gives me the right to even be out here. Thank you for my two faithful boys, who are faithful because of the continual model and devotion of their mother. Thank you for the freedom I have in ministry, not to be taken out because" – I'm choking up, it's hard to do …
Dennis: Keep going.
Tommy: "Thank you that I can minister and never worry about being canceled out because you are so faithful. No matter whatever happens to me in life, it will be because of you. I love you, Tommy." That's the best I can do.
Dennis: That's pretty good.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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