Sunday, February 12, 2006

my little chu-chi face

With Valentines Day on Tuesday it is an appropriate week to bring up something my husband and I have been discussing lately. I first thought this through when I read Blestwithsons third post on television. Then my husband handed me an article from (take a deep breath) RC Sproul Jr's sight- Why Christians Have Lousy S*x Lives by Rodney Clapp. The article isn't all that well written as it's kind of confusing in the first few paragraphs- but he makes an interesting point that goes along with what I've been thinking about.
Our culture is obsessed with entertainment, and the affect that television, movies, and music have had on how we relate to the oppostie sex has been detrimental. Mr. Clapp states,
"nothing damages the sex lives of Christians so much as romantic love."

Romantic love...what is it? Of course Clapp has an answer,

Inherent to the ethos of romantic love is the notion that it is 'natural' and universally inevitable. People fall in love as surely as the earth orbits the sun and heavy objects roll down hills. No doubt much of the uncritical acceptance of romantic love among Christians is due to our perception of it as natural, rather than as a contestable narrative. It has become second-nature to most moderns to think of emotions (such as romantic love) as somehow deeper, truer, less contrived than thoughts or behavior. But emotions have histories and social origins, too. They are, after all, more than mere sensations, else how do we distinguish between abject fear and cheerful excitement? In either case, heartbeat speeds up, stomach tightens, lungs draw air more rapidly.

So what do you think? Is romantic love not inherent? I think the attraction between man and woman was set in the beginning; it was part of creation. What has been mangled is our expectation of our men to treat us like the men on TV treat TV women- I just don't know how to say it in an elegant way. Here's Clapp:

I think of a friend who tells about warding off her husband's lovemaking advances so that she might rather read, in bed beside him, her latest romance novel. That's romantic love in its essence. It is first and finally gnostic, antiphysical, drawn more to fantasies than any actual, particular body near to hand... romantic love is not really about loving a particular person- it is about being in love with love.

Isn't it TV and movies and "love stories" that train us up in the way we should feel? My 5 (almost 6) year old son already asks Daddy to sweep me up off my feet and give me a kiss. He *loves* to see us affectionate towards one another. He actually asks me to sing that silly song (title) from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to his Daddy. I know that partly he is our child and feels secure when he sees (and hears) that, yes, we love each other, but I can't help but put two and two together. He watched more TV than necessary in his earlier years, and I know he saw these themes of romantic love in some of the movies he's watched. Isn't the beautiful story of Isaac and Rebekah a more appropriate way of teaching our children the truth about love? Not that we as parents will choose our son's and daughter's spouses, that is not what I'm implying. We need to teach our young ones that to make a marriage last you must *choose* to love. Romantic love has left too many people disillusioned. If the relationship (marriage) isn't all roses and euphoria, people suppose it isn't worth commitment. Clapp again:

Think of it this way: As Eamon Duffy shows in a richly detailed account (The Stripping of the Altars), fifteenth century English folk could hardly make it through a waking hour of the day without encountering the Christian story. Church bells rang. Processions recalling Christ's sacrifice paraded by homes. Duffy writes, 'Within the liturgy, birth, copulation and death, journeying and homecoming, guilt and forgiveness, the blessing of homely things and the call to pass beyond them were all located, tested, and sanctioned. In the liturgy and the sacramental celebrations that were its central moments, medieval people found the key to the meaning and purpose of their lives.'

Now think how easy it is to pass through an hour of our day without any reminders of the Christian story, but how difficult it would be to avoid fragments of the narrative of romantic love. Popular, jazz, and country radio stations are saturated with it and herald it in song around the clock. If you wanted to escape it you could hardly turn on the television, take in a movie, or afford to overhear office gossip. It's on the billboards, a staple of magazines and newspapers, and, as I've observed, barely less prominent in Christian literature and media. Medieval people may have found meaning and purpose via the liturgy, but, as philosopher Diogenes Allen asserts, industrialization and commercialism have leached a sense of adventure from modern life and there is a yearning for 'high feelings and passion in a world that has become commonplace, petty, and meaningless.' The only chance at high feelings and passion remaining, the only adventure left, says Allen, is the adventure of falling in love.

This is what our culture chooses to teach us and our children- "live for the moment!" But even Christ in His example to His beloved church isn't based on euphoric feelings. He draws us, and we choose to obey. Our walk with Yaweh is not an emotional vice.

The rest of his article traces the origins of romantic love, and as he points out, once upon a time, "the sweeping intensity, confusion, and absorption of what we have come to know as romantic love was considered a misfortune. Friendship was the higher love." Think Romeo and Juliet.

Let's teach our children what some of us had to learn the hard way.

0 thoughts: