On Being a Christian and Pursuing Romance
I've been a hopeless romantic since middle school. Love songs have been the anthem of my life. Remember Peter Cetera? If not, Google him. His song "You're the Inspiration" used to be the only song I listened to. I'll even go as far as to admit that I would play the song in the background while I practiced kissing the mirror as a 7th grader.
You know our love was meant to be, The kind of love that lasts forever. And I need you here with me, From tonight until the end of time. You should know, everywhere I go, You're always on my mind, in my heart, in my soul…
You're the meaning in my life; You're the inspiration. You bring feeling to my life; You're the inspiration. Wanna have you near me; I wanna have you hear me sayin', No one needs you more than I need you.
Looking back, I realize how much that song really affected me. The truth is, the message behind the song ruined my life. It convinced my young heart that the romantic love of a woman was the most meaningful thing I could possess in life.
And so at a young age I became obsessed with romance. I wasn’t one of those run-of-the-mill teenage boys who only had “one thing” on his mind. I added a second thing: romance. Before the sex, I wanted to be in the throes of “from tonight until the end of time.”
But there were two very significant things about living for romance that I didn’t expect to encounter along the way.
Romance Cannot Fulfill Its Promises
Romance cannot deliver the fulfillment it promises. In the end, you will always end up despising the very person you once passionately desired.
I’ve often seen it go something like this. You wanted her; you got her. And for a while you were caught up in the exhilaration of the expectations. The zenith, of course, came when you introduced sex. It just seemed to be the perfect expression of your “love” for each other. And without saying it, you were both willing to dismiss the guilt you felt because you were getting what you wanted. You told yourself it would all work out.
But then things began to change. When your love for her should have been deepening, you found yourself losing interest. The rapture of having her was waning and doubt was creeping in. In a desperate attempt to prove your nagging questions wrong, you looked to the physical relationship to rescue you. But the more you tried, the more it turned against you.
Then one day, you had your moment of clarity: you despised her. Why? Because you bought into the lie and she couldn’t deliver. You moved on and the devil smiled.
'Romance' Is Often No More than Lust
Secondly, I figured out that the world’s concept of romance is nothing more than lust. The nature of lust is to steal that which it has no right to possess. And anything called “romance” that does not grow out of a loving, God-centered, God-honoring relationship, is only a cloak for this insidious evil. I might also add that love will never introduce sexual immorality into a relationship because love always prefers the good of the other over one’s own desires. The great deception of lust is that it produces all of the physical and emotional sensations of love, but is not governed by love’s ruling principle. Lust is not about to sacrificially give itself away; it is false love.
Biblical Romance Is Real
However, there is a true, biblical romance that God intends for a man to share with his wife. Biblical romance is an expression of devotion and desire, lovingly governed by a passion to give. Such romance continually yields to the well-being of its beloved; it edifies rather than corrupts. It is beautiful. It is holy.
For me, it took 14 years, a failed marriage and the loss of a career to come to grips with this truth. But on the other side of the deep repentance and brokenness that followed, came a new song which the Lord used to begin to capture my heart. The difference was that this song did not have me in the center but Him:
Jesus, You’re my all-in-all,
Everything I need You are,
The meaning of my life,
My one and only Love.
Those simple words now express the sincere desire of every fiber of my heart. Jesus, the true Lover of my soul, has been winning my heart with His eternal love. I know now that His love will forever stand as the most meaningful thing in my life. I’m done pursuing this world and its lies. How about you?
Justin Carabello served as the Director of Program Development for Pure Life Ministries from 1999 to 2008. Since leaving the ministry, Justin founded Carabello Coffee and opened a coffee shop in Newport, KY. Part of the proceeds from his business are used to support an orphanage in Nicaragua.
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