Ecclesiastes 3:5 (ESV)

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

Most of the English translations speak about throwing and gathering stones in the first part of Ecclesiastes 3:5, while the second part of the verse is about embracing and refraining from it. With the first part we will have to think about agriculture in Israel. The farmers in Israel have also experienced the alternation of seasons in their work. There was a time to plough. During ploughing, stones came to the surface. After that it was time to remove those stones from the land.

When we look at the Good News translation (GNT) or The Message, both parts of this verse appear to deal with a similar matter: The time for making love and the time for not making love, the time for kissing and the time for not kissing. There is a time when your love and your affection, and your enthusiasm for something, can be really strong. This is a description of the good times. It may also be that you are involved in things that are going in the wrong direction. These could be things that you cannot reconcile with the love of God. Then the time has come to distance yourself with the result that the relationship cools down.

When you, as husband and wife, are married in love, there are times to embrace each other and to enjoy sexual intercourse together. There are also times when it is not right, or even times when it is impossible, without true love actually having disappeared. Then other matters require your attention.