Thursday, September 6, 2018


I’ve been pondering romance since last Valentines day. This year, Valentines day and Lent fell on the exact same date. It made me think. What’s godly, sacrificial romance actually look like?

Romance in our culture is tied into the feelings one has, usually at a young age, of love and attraction towards another person. It’s the feelings that are emphasized. And with it, those crazy things that occur out of romantic love. People will go to great lengths to prove their romantic love towards another. It reminds me of the Disney movies where guy meets girl, rescues girl, and they fall deeply in love and then the movie ends. What happens after the “romance” wears off is what concerns me. It’s obvious that the most beautiful and intelligent people in the world seem to have a hard time making romance work over the long haul. I read another news article today about a Hollywood celebrity who’d become violent towards her younger significant other; a person she was supposedly in love with. So here’s what I’d like to suggest.

Romance isn’t a feeling. And it’s not simply actions tied to the emotional (and dare I say sexual) response we have towards another person. Romance, true romance, is cultivated. It’s pursued not for its sake but for the others sake. Romance is planned. It’s paying attention to little things over the long haul. Anyone can open a car door for a beautiful woman. But to do it for that same woman 40-50 years later, that's romance! Romance is conniving in a godly way. It’s musing on how you can love other other more perfectly. And to be frank, much of the romance we have  today isn’t other oriented, its “me” oriented. It’s objectifying the other; loving the other because of how “they make me feel” or “because she’s so pretty.” In that case what we love isn’t the other, but ourselves and how the other makes us feel. It feels good to feel good. Romance feels good.

Romance can be practiced. I read somewhere about a woman who, after being married for a number of years, got super sick. While she was puking her guts out her husband held her hair back so that she could vomit unintruded. She said it was one of the most romantic things she’d ever experienced. So romance isn’t about me, its about the other. Romance isn’t a feeling, but an act that when occurring often enough, can create a feeling. Romance is tender not tough. But then again, real romance, true romance is a marathon not a sprint. Marathons are hard, especially the last six miles. But the finish line? Romantic!! The aha of the end. So what to do:

Ponder--What would it look like if you were to be truly romantic towards your significant other?

Practice--Don’t just be romantic towards the other but be gracious to all. Practice opening the car door for all women, not just the woman you love. Treat people at the check out counter as human beings created in the image of God.

Persevere--Don’t quit when the feelings are gone. Real romance when nurtured, can sneak up on you. Romance isn’t a to-do list. It’s nurtured when we treat the other, over the long haul, as a special person. 

I remember a few years ago, coming back from a game of golf and driving up to my house. I’ve practiced being romantic for a while. Jan was standing out in the front dressed in jeans and fall clothes and covering our grand kids with leaves. I immediately felt a romantic desire for her that I’d not felt in a while. Why? Romance was bearing fruit. Romance was giving me as a by-product, what our secular society mistakingly assumes is the real thing, namely that good feeling. I’ll take the by-product any day!! Ah, amore!

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