Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Confounding World: Romantic Love

Do you have a favorite film? Probably. Most people do. I am among their ranks. I have a favorite. This specific affection we may have for a particular film is not necessarily exclusive. We still hope to find a new film that will move us with the same amount of force. In short, we are not movie-monogamists.

Ask a lover what it is about their loveree that inspires their world-consuming passion. What answer do you get? Maybe, "Everything about him." Or, "The way bites her lip when she's frustrated." What? Of the seven billion souls on this earth, you're drawn to this one in particular because you like the way she bites her lip? Really?

My first crush came in first grade. Serena. And then the next year, Samantha. And then 5th grade, Erin. What compelled me to have these secret longings for these specials little ladies? Was it something each of them did? Were they particularly nice to me? Particularly cute? Probably not. Even if these girls reciprocated an affection of some sort, what would that have meant? I didn't even understand what this feeling inside me was, let alone be able to understand 'why' this was happening. All I could know was that I felt like the passive protagonist through these feelings. There was nothing I could do; I was the Benjamin Button of my own movie. This affection was happening to me. I couldn't help it.

Near the latter end of high school, I began to understand human psychology a bit. I began to understand various methodologies that my fellow gentlemen utilized to lure women into their arms. Most of the common techniques were never means by which I could embrace, so I started hunting for my own method. What I somewhat ended up diverting my image to, was this aura of mystery. If I could convince girls that I had old secrets of lore, that I was perhaps classic noirish in my appeal, then maybe they would be wooed by their imaginations of what I could be. Because after all, I was a 16 year old white boy that played trombone in the marching band and didn't have a driver's license. There wasn't a lot there, so I supposed. There was nothing that made me special, so I felt compelled to arrange my attitude in such a manner that an illusion of mystery hid behind my normal day-to-day existence.

I remember the moment in which I realized I knew this romantic love for myself. Even then, back in October of 2005, it came to me as if by instinct. I was an active participant then, in the sense that I welcomed this new child within my heart of hearts. But even so, there was a mystical (using the word liberally) aspect to the situation. I couldn't define this love. I couldn't label or organize it. It was this organic creature storming to power within me.

What makes love different from favoritenss? Why is it that the lover chooses the biting lip girl above all other women in the world, rather than just identifying certain behaviors as favorites? Why do we choose but one lover? Subpoint: I am equally confused by the anomaly of those who claim to be in love with more than one person simultaneously -- but that is a separate matter entirely -- and seems less pure, less natural, and certainly such attestations are dubious to begin with... Why not act like the movie affectionado, who has a favorite, but never ceases to enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer?

Perhaps my words read quite cynically; this is not my intent. Rather, I wish to bring to note the intangibility of romantic lingerings. Sam Keen, an author, philosopher and former editor of Psychology Today said, "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." Yes. I agree. I think Scripture agrees. But how does one come to find the imperfect perfect? Isn't that illogical? Subpoint: the art term baroque literally means, misshapen pearl. Intriguing, no?

Yes. Love is illogical. I can prove my case swiftly.

God created man. Man hates God. Man stands condemned. God comes to earth as man. God is perfect. God gives himself to man. Man kills him. God takes the torture as punishment for man's hate. He dies.

The story of Jesus Christ is illogical from God's perspective. God should not have sacrificed His perfect Son for Us -- He should not have sacrificed His son. We deserve what we would have received. Hell is fair. Heaven is unjust. There should not be a Heaven for us.

If God is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, He could have simply created a new species... a people without hate. He could have burned the very idea of you and me and us. He would be right to do so. But apparently this was not His will.

We thank the Lord for His grace and mercy. Do we ever ask why? Why save hateful sinners like us? Why do it? Why suffer the torment, the agony? Why scar perfection? Why have the only man, the one who never screwed it up, enter into sin while he stayed pinned to wood by nail and blood? Why endure the lashing? Why?

Whoever stumbles upon this -- answer me, does it make any sense? At all?

No. That's the beauty of it.

Love is illogical.

John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.


  1. Growing up (a process that continues to this day) I think romantic love is something I idealized while held in a very skeptical light. That being said, it doesn't seem to me that you're talking about the romantic love that I know in this post. Oh yes you start with a nice little anecdote about childhood affection while posting many pictures from various Jim Carrey films. You then transition into a look at the affections of couples and the seemingly trivial points that they feel bind them together. However here is where you lose me...

    [As an aside referencing your Keen quote. Im not sure seeing a person perfectly requires one to see the imperfect as perfect. It seems to me that seeing someone perfectly requires only a perfect mindset...which come to think of it seems even more difficult that the former]

    The idea of discussing God's love for us in a conversation about romantic love struck me as odd. I don't believe your advocating the idea that God romantically loves us (as we would define romantic love), but I think Gods love for us is so transcendent that the comparison to any love we know is almost lost.

    You come to the conclusion that love itself is illogical, yet you use God as the example to prove it? God defies logic. I know its semantics, but He is above logic. Not illogical. If however we decide to put God in the logic vs illogical boxes we're faced with an issue. God's justice is illogical, His mercy is illogical,and His patience is illogical. Yet I wouldn't call justice, mercy, or patience illogical in themselves. Love may be mysterious yes, but illogical? I would say no. Love within humanity is very logical. We love God because he loved us. Cause and effect right there. Now connecting that love to another person? That is the puzzle indeed.

  2. Yeah -- I was pondering how to post this one off-and-on throughout the week and I don't think I ever got to articulating myself as I ought to have.

    I don't mean to use this word 'illogical' as a means to accuse God; by no means! Rather, I think we are making similar points in that I can't grasp the 'why' of the salvation story. Perhaps meta-logical, as you implied, would be a better term, but I admit I like the shock value of calling it illogical, as it makes His love for us seem more fierce and more radiant to me.

    The romantic love leap was perhaps awkward --- to go from my own history to that of Christ... and perhaps out of line. I just saw a correlation the ineffableness of romance and God's love for His people. Further, we do see this type of romantic language come from God when He speaks of His love for His chosen people (OT) and His love for the Church. All this business of waiting for the Bridegroom and such.

    And then there's Song of Solomon.

  3. I enjoyed this very much.
    And I completely agree with you using the love of Christ as the analogy... He's what we learn from... husbands are commanded to love their wives "as Christ loved the church". It must indeed be the same kind of love (or at least the love we should be striving for).
    That brings me to a question of if there are two kinds of love; senseless feeling/choice. This is a debate I have with myself and can't really answer. I'll spare you my musings.
    And finally, the ultimate reason for responding... of course I am reminded of a song. :) "I've Got This Friend" by the Civil Wars.

  4. Ok... I know this is about my fourth commercial for the the "Civil Wars".... but another song of theirs just came on and reminded me of this. :) So... "To Whom It May Concern". Check it out. You won't regret it... or your money back, guaranteed.