Monday, 4 October 2010
Idolatry: romantic love
What is love? Love has become confused with a feeling. The idea of romance and romantic love is a distortion of the biblical idea of love. Love is a laying down of a life, love is obedience, love is commitment. The notion of romantic love seen in many films and in this advert - beautifully constructed and directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet - has become an idol. We measure love by romance, by how we feel.
Gary Thomas has written a great book with a brilliant sub-title: Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to make Us Happy? This exposes the idol of romantic marriage. Marriage isn’t all about being happy - it’s a about laying our lives down for our partners. It doesn’t mean that romance isn’t good. All idolatries take something good and distort it; the partial truth becomes the whole truth. But love can’t survive on romance alone. Marriages need more than just romance. Romance is not a basis for a secure and long-lasting marriage.
The Romantic turn, associated with Wordsworth, Blake and Coleridge, and later Shelley and Keats, was responsible for this elevation of romance. They thought it was a crime - against oneself!- to marry for something other than an emotional love.
As C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape says "They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life as something lower than a storm of emotion" (p. 72).