Did you know that I was Prince Charming? Sure, I may have only been an adolescent boy but I was going to grow up to be the one who rescued the Princess and with her live happily ever after. Because that’s where I would find complete happiness: in the presence of the most beautiful and flawless woman I’d ever lay eyes on. I would recognize her worth and she’d recognize mine and we’d have all we’d ever need. Our love would magically provide home, health, and everything else we might want. They’d probably write books and make movies detailing our perfect love. And it would all start at first sight. One look was all we’d need and we’d be “head over heels” in love.
“That’s stupid!” These are the words I heard from a good friend as I told her about my idea of love. By this time I was a 24 year old grown man who still clung to romantic love being the end all of life. And why wouldn’t I have? Some of my closest childhood companions were Disney movies. And just about every secular song I ever heard outside of church was about “when a man loves a woman”. The fact is, our culture glorifies romantic love. Just two nights ago as Annette and I watched “Downton Abbey” (I never claimed to be a man’s man), one of the main characters was told that if she’d marry him “every waking moment would be devoted to her happiness.” Turn on the radio and I guarantee you’ll hear a similar promise within seconds. This kind of sentiment is praised as sweet and romantic. Many would probably say that this is how it should be.
The Church has even participated in this phenomenon. For example, I was encouraged to keep my virginity intact because one day I would meet the “the one” and all my dreams would be fulfilled in her. But while saving myself for my future wife was and is biblical, looking to another person to fulfill us is not. Unfortunately, this idea has wreaked havoc in so many marriages as many have looked to their spouses to deliver something impossible for them to give. One of my closest friends, a Christian, has had several relationships end disastrously because they’ve continued to look to be swept away in a fog of romantic love, where all they can see is each other.
I used to think this was beautiful. Now, I see it for what it is: Camouflaged Idolatry. It looks good, because after all, we’re supposed to love and be faithful to our spouse. But as with so many things that God creates and calls good, it’s been perverted. Romantic love has become another vehicle for stealing away our highest affection from the only one deserving of it. This is idolatry. We all worship something, and anything that we adore more than Christ has become our object of worship. Isn’t it obvious that for so many in our culture, maybe even for you, seemingly innocent romantic love has become the idol of choice?
So am I suggesting that we do away with romantic love? Not at all. I’m calling us to keep it in its proper place with proper perspective. God made marriage. He invented romantic love between a man and a woman. It’s a wonderful gift. And its primary purpose is the same as everything that God has made: to reveal His glory to mankind that we would know Him, love Him, and be in awe of Him. Paul writes in Colossians 1:16, “All things were created through Him and for Him.” In writing this in reference to Jesus, Paul declares that even our own marriages are not primarily for us, they are to be for Jesus. How so? In many ways, but let me point out two extremely important ones: First, to be a picture of the beautiful relationship that people can have with Jesus as a part of His bride (Ephesians 5:25-33). Second, to help and spur each other on to carry out Jesus’ command to all Christians to be disciple-making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
If you’re married or plan to be, your spouse will one day stand before the Lord and give an account for their life. Have you ever thought about that? You need to be helping prepare them for that day, not simply engaging in temporal romantic idolatry with them.
After calling my romantic notions “stupid”, my close friend pointed out the blessing of marrying your best friend and having a relationship built on truth and not on fantasy. She struck a chord with me that day. In fact, she strikes a chord with me every day. She is a very wise woman and I’m incredibly blessed to be married to her. Sometimes it’s a fine line I walk between worshipping her and worshipping the one who made her. But it’s a line that I must not cross. Not when I think about the Cross. And this is what we must do. Think long and hard about the amazing and perfect love Christ displayed for us at the Cross. He is the prince that came to rescue us. We are His bride. This is where we find fulfillment! Jesus is the only one who can truly meet our needs. He is the only one who will never hurt us. He is the lover of our souls. When we dwell on this, it shouldn’t be hard to adore Him more than anyone or anything else. With all your heart, soul, mind and strength, love Him above all else for it is with Him that His people will live happily, ever, after.