Okay, I’m gonna do it. Yep, that’s right. I’m going to talk about romance. Why? Because it’s hard for me, because it’s uncomfortable, because, though it reigns as a universal practice, it’s subjective, because it’s important, because it’s neglected.
For some reason, I’ve been thinking about romance a lot: how it fits into the Bible, how it fits into God’s plan for humanity, how its evidence is present in the mundane and the everyday ways of life.
“Hunter, romance is great and all, but I don’t think it fits into the Bible.”
Oh no? I think so.
I always talk about God like He’s my best friend, like He’s the one thing in my life that I can’t live without, like He’s my everything…how many times have we heard phrases like these used in Hollywood romance? How many times have you thought these things concerning a certain special someone? Whether you’re comfortable with thinking this way or not, God is romantic in the purest, most original sense of the word.
Let’s look at the definition of romance, shall we? 🙂
I’ll give the dictionary definition first. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit my giant Encarta World Dictionary in my backpack, so I’m stuck with Merriam Webster…but he’s pretty chill :).
Webster’s definition of romance is rather extensive, actually:
1. an old tale of knights and noble ladies
2. an adventure story
3. a love story
4. a love affair
5. an attraction or appeal to one’s feelings
6. to have romantic thoughts or feelings
I want to look at the very first definition given: an old tale of knights and noble ladies. I find it interesting that nobility and the implied code of chivalry is included in this definition. A lot of people, when considering media’s pathetically carnal portrayal, see romance as something physical, something based solely on feelings, sentiment, irrational thought, and impulse. To a degree, this is correct. But romance, in its innateness, was never meant to be physical, transient, or impulsive, not really. Chivalry was a huge part of romance…and I think it still is, legitimate romance, that is. Chivalry originally started as a military code, a way of life used by knights and soldiers of the government in Medieval Times. Different aspects of this code included concepts like service to others, respect of officials, etc. Later on in history, during the time of Arthurian legend and Camelot, other concepts such as courtly love, morality, and courtesy were adopted. Knights were expected to protect those who could not protect themselves, be selfless, disciplined, and passionate in all areas of life. Nowadays, the concept of chivalry is still applied to romance, depicting it as less of a military concept and more of a committed, permanent, disciplined matter of pursuit of another person.
The next two definitions, I think, can be put into one: a love story is an adventure story. Love was never meant to be boring, never meant to be mundane, never meant to grow stale. Let me, before continuing, define love. Love is defined, according to the One who created it, as patient, kind, content, humble, polite, selfless, easy-going, and forgiving, constantly trusting, constantly protecting, constantly hoping, and keeping the greatest level of determination and commitment at the center of itself. When I say love, this is what I’m talking about.
The reason why I think love was never meant to grow stale is because look at the adventure God took His loved ones on, all for the sake of loving them, of showing them how to love, of displaying the greatest act of love anyone could ever perform. I’ve said this before: the Bible isn’t just a book, not just something you can read for knowledge with a highlighter in hand, but a love letter written to everyone individually but as a whole all at once. The Bible is a love letter.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The last three definitions come to the more personal aspect of romance, if it hasn’t been impossibly personal thus far. These definitions talk about romance as a feeling, a matter of the heart, a force that pierces the intimate life of those many different voices that reside inside your head, those desires and hopes that stir within the walls of your chest. The first definitions talked about the action of romance, the action of love, the way love and romance are seen: an adventure, a chivalrous story. Now we see an individual matched up with another individual.
The second part of romance is finding someone who fits your mold. When God created you, not in your mother’s womb, but when you were first thought of in His magnificently brilliant mind before the creation of the world and the beginning of time, God gave you a mold that sits right next to the Holy Spirit as it dwells inside of you (this is not biblical, this is me, being a writer). Everybody’s mold is different. One of my friend’s molds is probably in the shape of a leather bound book (because she loves to read). My mom’s mold is probably in the shape of a French horn (because music is her passion). Mine is probably in the shape of a solid milk chocolate Easter bunny (because chocolate, besides books and letters, is my favorite thing to receive), or maybe a black-eyed Susan (my favorite flower), or maybe even, because I know God has a sense of humor, a caterpillar (because I’m afraid of them). There’s another person out there with which He gifted the opposite mold, so that when He brings them to you or you to them in His perfect timing, they’ll fit your mold snugly. You are attracted to them both emotionally and physically. But when the third aspect of attraction, the spiritual, is in play, the concept of romance is finalized and completed.
Now that we’ve dissected the dictionary definition of romance, I’m going to tell you what I think about romance. You don’t have to read it, but I’m going to write about it anyway.
Romance did not start with Penelope and Odysseus. Romance did not begin when Romeo caught Juliet’s gaze. Romance did not come into being when Adam first laid eyes on Eve. No…romance began when God was. When God was, romance was. When God is, romance is. What I’m trying to say is that God is the creator of romance, of chivalry, of gallantry, of the visual of the knight in shining armor (Revelation 19). We, humanity, are the damsels in distress (yes, men, you’re there too, but instead of damsels you’re just hanging by a shoelace out of a window while the girls are hiding under the bed inside the tower). God is the White Rider, the Hero, the valiant Knight. Satan, the world, our own sin, is the villain. How does He win us over? With His romantic character, His loving nature, Himself.
“But Hunter, isn’t there a difference between human romance and spiritual romance…if you can even call it that?”
Yes. I’m slowly learning this. While God is definitely the creator of romance and its greatest advocate, and though God is the most romantic being in this universe and every other, He gave us humans the capacity to experience a very unique romance with each other. God gave men and women the capacity to love each other as they love Him, and partially as He loves them (I say partially because we can’t comprehend God’s love for us, much less express it accurately). God’s romance is ultimate, but human romance is a divine gift.
“…so, what’s your definition of human romance?”
For me, human romance is innocent and pure. Romance is black-eyed Susans in a glass vase sitting in the sunlight. Romance is hiking through the Adirondacks and throwing snowballs at each other. Romance is talking about God and how amazing He is. Romance is sitting in the library, reading books and talking about philosophical concepts while also using The Lord of the Rings references. Romance is going to an ice-skating rink at ten o’clock at night, listening to sixties music playing, and trying to keep our hands warm. Romance is mudding through a forest and fishing off a dock. Romance is committed and not impulsive or fleeting or transient. Romance is believing that romance isn’t dead, that chivalry isn’t dead. Romance is safe and trustworthy. Romance doesn’t have a secret agenda. Romance is a place where I feel free, unsuspicious, unskeptical, a point in time where I don’t feel like cardboard and feel more like a blade of grass. Romance is, aside from my eternal salvation, God’s ultimate gift to me.
“The word ‘romance’ according to the dictionary, means excitement, adventure, and something extremely real. Romance should last a life time.” Billy Graham