Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Romance With Jesus

During my long, miserable years of being involuntarily single, various people encouraged me to let Jesus be my Valentine, my Lover, my Bridegroom and my Husband. I can't cast aspersions on their motives for offering such advice. They saw my unhappiness over being unmarried, and watched helplessly as I fell in love (several different times) with  men who didn't hold romantic feelings toward me. Out of compassion for my anguished heart, these friends hoped I would find romantic satisfaction in the Lord.

On several occasions, I tried to "fall in love with Jesus" so that my yearning for an earthly marriage would dissolve. Once, my resolve to consider Him my Husband actually lasted from Valentine's Day until Easter Sunday, with a relatively high degree of easing my loneliness.

But that Easter Sunday evening, as our little drama group presented our play about Jesus' trials before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, I was disappointed that my heart didn't break at the off-stage sounds of Jesus being flogged. Never mind that I'd collaborated in writing and directing the play, and was watching its third performance before an audience. I felt as if, now that my relationship with Him had  "progressed" to a romantic level, His suffering shoold tear me to shreds.

That night, I knew that I couldn't maintain a mystical romance with the Lord. I wanted those kinds of emotions towards Him, and I reprimanded myself for not feeling "that way" about Him, but I simply couldn't accept Him as a Husband. Savior, yes. Lord, certainly. Bridegroom of the Church, absolutely! But I simply lacked the "spiritual depth" necessary to experience Him on a romantic level.

My apparent deficit in appreciating Him romantically led me to feel spiritually inferior. I wondered why I still longed for a husband who could physically touch me when I knew full well that only Jesus  could love me perfectly. Evidently, I had skewed priorities. I felt intense shame, yet I had to admit my inability to experience wifely feelings toward Him.

At another time, I hope to address the faulty theology involved in urging single women to regard Jesus as a romantic Partner. Today, I just want to leave you with the thought that unmarried women struggle enough on Valentine's Day as it is. Telling them to whip up romantic feelings for Christ may offer them short-term relief, but ultimately, such counsel positions them for disillusionment and self-recrimination. And letting that happen doesn't communicate God's love!

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