Are you a romantic? I am. I enjoy reading books of fables, fairy tales, and romances where the man who was “the one” for the woman would ride back into town, sweep the woman off her feet, and love her unconditionally and perfectly all her days. Every woman swoons at that thought. Even feminists. They don’t admit it, but that’s why they read romance novels. The Princess Bride is a stupendous movie mostly for this reason.
The divorce rate shows the undeniable truth that there is no perfect prince astride a white horse coming to sweep us off our feet. After the heady moments of early courtship and in the very early days of marriage, that bubble of ephemeral romance dissipates in the face of morning sickness, toilet wars, laundry, and sleepless nights due to children, busybody in-laws or work pressures. Marriage is hard work and no one loves perfectly.
Yet women, including Christian women, still long for the picture of perfect domestic bliss with a strong and capable husband who actually finishes the tasks he sets out to do. And puts the tools away after. As the picture of the Prince and the Princess Happily Ever After becomes more pervasive in society, discontent rises among women. Once they have the husband they now want to dominate the husband. Marriage wars begin. (Genesis 3:16). Including Christian marriages, and worst of all among marriages where one or both partners believe they are Christian but are not. These marriages struggle the most because one or both of the partners are not saved but think they are, and since they are absent the help of the Holy Spirit begin to wonder why their marital partner is so sinful. Women who think they are saved but are not, won’t submit, either, as Ephesians says we must do. (Eph 5:22).
Enter the “Christian” romantics. Bob DeWaay defines Romanticism as
Romanticism—the idea that truth could be found in feelings, art, and the intuitive rather than through empirical investigation and the rational—arose in the early 19th Century as a reaction against the Enlightenment and rationalism. I believe the Emergent movement is a new Romanticism…
In other words, when a woman says or writes, ‘Because I feel such a powerfully blissful longing for Jesus He must be a very good God.’ Ann Voskamp in particular is a writer along these lines, reducing the Omnipotent King Jesus to a puddle of swoon. She wrote in One Thousand Gifts,
Has His love lured me out here to really save me? I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn. That He would care to save. Moon face glows. We are head to head. I am bare; He is bare. All Eye sees me (Voskamp: 115)
I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin. To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God . . . No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, He woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time. I ache for oneness (Voskamp: 119).
Voskamp is an easy target because her writing is so drenched with girlish giddiness when describing the Alpha and Omega. There are other examples of Romanticism in popular writing, such as these from Sarah Young of Jesus Calling. Jesus Calling is entering its tenth year of being on the bestseller lists, and not just Christian booksellers, any bestseller list. This is the book that just won’t go away.
“Your deepest, most constant need is for My Peace. I have planted Peace in the garden of your heart,” ― Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
Our heart is a garden of peace? I thought it was deceitful and sick and no one could know it. (Jeremiah 17:9).
Another Sarah Young quote:
MEET ME IN MORNING STILLNESS, while the earth is fresh with the dew of My Presence. Worship Me in the beauty of holiness. Sing love songs to My holy Name. As you give yourself to Me, My Spirit swells within you till you are flooded with divine Presence. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
Really. That’s just embarrassing.
Rebekah Lyons one of the ladies of the IF:Gathering, and #freefalltofly. In her book of the same title she stated,
So you’re stuck in a freefall because you never figured out what makes you fly.
That quote says nothing and yet it speaks volumes.
David Murrow wrote the essay, Stop Telling Me To Fall In Love With Jesus, and said,
Romantic imagery is unhelpful. When we describe our faith in romantic terms, we set believers up for immaturity and failure. The term “fall in love” describes the opening chapter of a relationship. It’s the emotional, wispy, unpredictable stage. Do we really want disciples to pattern their faith on this volatile model?
When I think of my faith, I do not imagine it as a love affair. I don’t envision myself sitting across a table in a candlelit restaurant, staring into Jesus’ eyes, casually flirting with him. I don’t picture myself walking hand-in-hand on a beach, opening a love note from Jesus, or climbing into bed next to him. Instead, I see myself walking beside him – asking him questions, gaining his wisdom. I see us fighting injustice, redeeming captives and setting things right. My “relationship” with Jesus takes place on the battlefield – not in the bedroom
Though the article was written by a man about men, his stance of battlefield vs. bedroom should be adopted by women also. We are all warriors in the army of our Commander in Chief. We are not His lover, we are His soldier. Jesus is not weak and needy, wooing us to His breast in a pre-dawn dewy garden, He is a blood-soaked King who elects those whom He chooses to salvation and brings all humans to justice- some to condemnation and wrath and eternal punishment. He is the bloody, pierced sacrificial substitute who died a horrific death in order to bring His elect to heaven to dwell with him so He will be magnified. He is not a whispery, clingy hippie seeking swooning women.
A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who will vanquish His enemies at Armageddon. A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who sustains the entire universe with the power of His word. A sissified, needy Jesus is not the Jesus who will fulfill the many promises He has made to bring some to heaven and punish others in wrath forever. A sissified Jesus doesn’t woo. He saves. With a sword.
Be careful of the Jesus you create with your mind and emotions.
God is not only love. Continually having a picture of a romantic, sissified Jesus in our minds will most definitely shift our gaze from the certainty of the coming wrath. As Pastor John MacArthur said last Sunday in his sermon We Will Not Bow,
The Bible is very clear on judgment. You say, “Well that’s the Old Testament. What about Jesus?” I wrote a book called, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. Some of you remember it. It is the Jesus that seems to be the one who is ignored. Jesus was a judgment preacher. He said far more about hell that he did about heaven. Started with John the Baptist. John the Baptist announced to the leaders of Israel that judgement was going to come with an unquenchable fire and consume them all.
Jesus told a story in Luke, chapter 20, about divine judgement that would take the unfaithful and shatter them into pieces. Jesus announced in John, chapter 5, that He would come in the end, and that there would be a resurrection unto damnation. The apostle Paul said, if you don’t love the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ll be damned, 1 Corinthians 16:22.
When Jesus described His own part in the judgement day, He said, “Depart from Me into eternal fire.” Into eternal fire. He said, “Woe to you, Chorazin.” “Woe to you, Bethsaida.” “Woe to you, Pharisees.” “Woe to you, lawyers.” “Woe to the one who has betrayed Me.” He preached judgment all through His ministry. That’s loving. That’s compassionate. That’s necessary.
A true picture of the actual Jesus is one of WOE, not woo.
There is a clip from a Voddie Baucham sermon which in my opinion brings a clearer focus of who Jesus is to the fore. Do not worry that speaking of the avenging Jesus means we don’t understand He is love, also. As this blogger said,
No doubt, Voddie fully understands that God’s love was also the biggest part of His Sons crucifixion. However, he certainly refuted those false Gospel claims that Jesus is a sissy, and that God is only about love.
I’d said at the beginning “the divorce rate shows the undeniable truth that there is no perfect prince astride a white horse coming to sweep us off our feet.” That is only half-true. There is no earthly perfect price. There is a Prince who will come with a white horse and His armies to rescue us and bring us as His bride adorned in white to dwell in a mansion of heavenly New Jerusalem forever. He loves us unconditionally, permanently, and He is the most beautiful person in the universe. He is wealthy, shares His wealth with His bride, sups with her and cares for her intimately because He knows her heart. He created her heart, He cleansed her heart!
This is our Groom, the powerful judge of all the living and the dead, and He chose us through no merit of our own to be part of His family. He wiped us clean of our sin, clothed us, sustains us, houses us, loves us. Isn’t THIS Jesus good enough for the Sarah Youngs and the Rebekah Lyons and the Ann Voskamps of the world?
Isn’t THIS Jesus good enough for you to adore as He is? What about US loving HIM unconditionally for who HE is? He is the I AM.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8).
No Compromise Radio: Episode 87: Loving God is not erotic (no matter what Voskamp says) (3:43 min video clip)