A Romantic Worldview

Ok. Let’s make something clear right from the start of this post. I love Gladiator, Rocky, Mad Men, American and Australian Rules Football, MMA, steak, burgers, GI Joe, bourbon and beer.

That said Clueless is one of my all time favourite movies.

This is not an easy confession to make in a forum where anyone can read it without knowing much about me and one where information can always be found no matter where else life takes you. But I cannot deny that if you peruse my DVD collection you will see the 10th anniversary edition of Clueless (which I told my wife was gift for her….which it was…sort of) proudly displayed next to Die Hard.

But that’s not all, peruse a little further and you will see the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma (which Clueless was based on…the book, not the movie) and you won’t have to go too much further to find the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (I know, I know the BBC version is better). In fact if you make your way over to my book shelf you’ll find a well worn copy of the book versions of each of these.

I am a romantic. I’m a sucker for Shakespeare’s comedies and Austen’s tales. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily do romance particularly well (just ask my wife) even if I do have my moments. Being a romantic however does not mean that I subscribe to a romantic world view.

A Romantic Worldview

My own definition of a romantic worldview is that it is the philosophy or belief that romance or love is our purpose and fulfillment. This worldview expresses ideas like we will never be truly happy unless we find our soul mate, our one true love. That somewhere out there is the perfect person for me that will make all my dreams come true. They will love me and adore me and rescue me from loneliness, from my insecurity and from myself.

I think it’s fair to say that without knowing it I subscribed to this worldview until I became a Christian and certainly held onto elements of it well into my walk with Christ. When I look back at my high school days and think about how much of my time was spent chasing girls and the abject depression that I would be thrown into if I was rejected by them it is hard to say that it wasn’t an idol in my life.

Even when God rescued me and I began to follow him, my darkest times were those when I succumbed to the emotional insecurities within me and I sought to find my affirmation from women instead of from the Lord. I am incredibly thankful that God has continued to sanctify me in this area and shown such mercy to me.

For Christians a romantic worldview is an easy heresy for us to fall into. Scripture commends those who marry and it says in Proverbs 18:22 that ‘He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.’ Marriage then is obviously a good thing.  In fact it was instituted by God from the very beginning ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ (Gen 2:24)

So there is no problem if we take or desire to take a wife or a husband. The problem comes when we expect in our hearts that our wife or husband or our marriage will functionally take the place of Christ himself. This is the picture of love that is painted in almost all romantic comedies and love stories that we see in the movies, on TV or read about in books.

Men and Women both do this by placing unrealistic expectations on their spouses to meet their emotional needs, feed their insecurities, give them their identity and provide them with their self worth. Their security and hope are ultimately placed in their spouses hands instead of the Living God’s.

Marriage for God’s Glory

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Marriage is most definitely a blessing to us (just read the Song of Solomon) but that is not all it is. It is primarily a tool by which he sanctifies us. Proverbs 27:17 says ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’. Nowhere in life will we walk in such close intimacy with another person as when we are ‘one flesh’ in marriage.

Marriage is also used by God to teach us about our relationship to Him. Paul uses the analogy of a married couple to illustrate what the relationship is between Christ and the Church and vice versa.

By pointing out the higher purposes of marriage I am by no means saying that I am against enjoying the blessing that is your spouse if you are married (Prov 5:18) nor am I suggesting to singles that marriage is devoid of romance or love. On the contrary, I believe that we will find the most joy and love when our greatest goal is to glorify God in our marriage but we need to remember that this is a secondary outcome, not our primary goal.

Ultimately the romantic worldview is an incredibly selfish one. Notice how the sentiments that most succinctly express it are all focused on the self. I want to find someone who will make me happy. Find my soul mate, my dream girl, meet my needs, fulfill my fantasies. Rarely does anyone say I want to be her soul mate, her dream guy, without any expectations of receiving anything back.

This however is how we are called to love and serve. This is particularly so for men. ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’. Our love is to be a sacrificial love that glorifies Christ. Not a selfish love that only seeks to meet our own needs.


One response to “A Romantic Worldview

  1. Great post James. I think this issue holds many in bondage. This world does “romanticize” a lot along with saying our goal in life is to be happy. Although happiness is a great feeling and blessing from God when it comes, we must not forget that our primary goal is to seek and enjoy Him first.

    In saying that we can so easily go back into our selfish mindset and try and find happiness in the areas we think will satisfy us. Tragically we allow ourselves to get tangled up in sinful addictions because we think they will satisfy us or “make us happy”.

    Marriage is a great blessing, but like many blessings in themselves, they can become idols if we don’t have our primary focus on seeking and enjoying God. I remember when I was single I used to crave being married. I poured far too much energy into “wanting to be married” because I thought that would complete me. I have now been married for 3 years and I must say it’s a great blessing… BUT it didn’t complete me. It is a very challenging life whereby one learns to live more sacrificially if they wish to see their marriage mature and honour God. That goes up a huge peg when children come along.

    Before I got married I read a book by Bill and Lynne Hybels called “Fit to be Tied”. If you can read that and be at peace with the person you are marrying, then you can go into marriage with a greater degree of confidence. In it they say that the most unhappy people are those who are married to the wrong person. Don’t think marriage will solve your problems. Those problems will still be there after marriage. There is much to enjoy, cherish and overcome in singleness as well as marriage.

    This leads back to your main point James – let’s focus our energy on serving and enjoying God and we will experience the resultant joy that comes our way. There is nothing in this world that can compare to the joy one receives from a relationship with Christ.

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