After years of researching relationship statistics, studying principles for godly relationships and analyzing what the opposite sex is thinking (or attempting to), it sometimes seems as if I’ve reduced dating and marriage to a sterile series of rules and decisions. In recent years, I’ve veered toward viewing relationships in a depressingly pragmatic way: Find someone with godly character and as little baggage as possible and make a choice to intentionally pursue marriage with that person.
While intentionality is good (and I’ll address this more in depth in a future blog), part of me is sad that I’ve developed such low expectations for romance. I believe this is, in part, due to a misunderstanding of God. Consider the following question: Is God interested in romance or did He create marriage as a pragmatic arrangement?
There are some stories in the Bible that seem to hint at God’s romantic nature. When Isaac meets Rebekah, for example. Abraham sends his servant to retrieve a wife for his son. And through a strange turn of events (which involves an extensive camel-watering episode), God leads the servant to Rebekah. There’s undeniable romance in the conclusion of this tale. Isaac sees Rebekah. Rebekah sees Isaac. Sparks fly. And:
Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Song of Solomon offers a blush-worthy description of physical attraction. You find bona fide “girl talk” in Ruth. And it’s pretty romantic when King David intentionally seeks out the virtuous Abigail after her husband has died. God is clearly into romance. The very scenario of Him sending His Son to be our sacrifice and ultimately our bridegroom speaks of His romantic nature.
Why is it then, that the longer I wait, the more inclined I am to believe I must leave romance out of the mix? Michael Lawrence and I have both downplayed the importance of attraction. Addressing this issue is a fine line, simply because the way the world defines “romance” is different from the committed and sacrificial romantic love advocated by the Creator.
We can be easily tricked into believing attraction is eyes meeting across the room in an electric jolt. When, in actuality, romance is more in line with Boaz hearing of Ruth’s outstanding character, noticing her in the field, pouring out special favor on her, protecting her from his men and ultimately becoming her kinsman redeemer. As you can see, the second romantic scenario contains far more substance than the first.
I recently saw a video about Iraqi believers receiving the Bible in their own language for the first time. One woman equated receiving the Bibles to an Iraqi saying that went something like this: “I thought that when I saw my beloved, I would experience the greatest happiness possible. But now that he is here with me, that happiness is exceeded.” It’s a beautiful picture of romance and so very powerful when you consider this woman’s joy at receiving God’s Word. God is into romance.
While it’s important to guard against worldly, unrealistic standards of romance, it is exciting to know that God established romance and celebrates it. Romantic love may appear in ways unanticipated, but at its source it flows from God’s character.
I found the one my heart loves. — Song of Solomon 3:4
Read Part 4 here.