So, It's Valentines Day
Today, three movies open up in theaters banking on the hallmark holiday (pun intended). Each of them represent something of the weak, anemic, and tragically stunted concept of love in our culture. I know I'm not as young as those to whom the movies are marketed and that they are not intended to connect with me. That being said, they are marketed towards my teenage kids and a number of younger people in the church I pastor. So with expected "Dad-Style" eye-rolling and sighing, here are the ways we get sold a vision of "love" that's about as genuine as a game show host's smile, as enduring as meringue in a rainstorm, and as noble as a bull shark at a wounded fish conference.
#1: Winter's Tale. Honestly, I can't really even tell what the heck this movie is about except Collin Farrell has ridiculous looking emo hair and rides a flying horse with a beautiful woman with an exotic accent in two different time eras of New York City, both of which are gross. This is pure fantasy love that has no base in reality. It triggers our lofty dreams and usually makes us woefully discontent in our current station and relationship causing more than a few "uh, we need to talk" conversations that will inevitably involve a tearful phrase like, "Why don't you ever take me flying over our city on a winged horse?!" That's what is called a no-win scenario because the vision of love that is sold to us simply cannot happen.
Do yourself and your beloved a huge favor and stop chasing fantasy love. Pursue genuine love. This is the love that cares for you when you have the flu for days. This is the love that knows your morning breath after a night of Thai food. This is the love that is as happy getting a cheap burger and beer as getting a Top Chef dinner and a bottle of Domaine Alain Vignot (I have no idea what that is, but it's French so like fantasies, it's over rated and over priced). Genuine love is wildly content with only you, and you with your beloved. This is how you've been loved by God in Christ. His love is literally down to earth, he came for you and got dirty, sweaty, rejected, and is well aware of all your flaws. Knowing all that he does, he rejoices in you, delights in you. Here the word of God in Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Wow.
#2: Endless Love, the sappy story of serendipitous seduction and sensuality in the lives of two senseless teenagers who vilify the girl's sinister father trying keep their love apart. Now, I know teenagers have strong feelings, I was one and actually fell for my future wife when I was 16! But this is not an enduring love. Enduring love is built on something a thousand times more durable than sentimental sensuality: commitment. That's an old word that means 100% investment no matter what. And it needs to come WAY before the sensuality. It's like hopping on a crotch rocket motorcycle and driving 100 mph on your way to your first motorcycle driving lesson. The speed is much more enjoyable when couched in the confines of skill.
Do yourself and your beloved a huge favor and don't settle for just sensual love. Pursue enduring love. Because someday no one else will think you're all that attractive. But the one with whom you've built enduring love will continue to go crazy over you. Enjoy the ride. This is the love you've been shown in Christ. God doesn't love you only when there are fireworks and sensational spiritual experiences. His love endures because it's anchored in His commitment to you. He himself says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you, I have loved you with an everlasting love"(Heb 13:5, Jer 31:3).
#3: About Last Night. Three words come to mind every time this trailer pops on the TV: Stupid, Sophomoric, & Selfish. In an attempt to sanctify the sordid lives of two dudes who sleep with women and then wonder if they should be in long term relationships this selfish love is always portrayed with humor. Because if we laugh at it, it's not wrong anymore right? Sure, if you're a 12 year old boy looking up dirty words in the dictionary in your school library. Not once does selfish love ask what is best for the other nor does it eagerly apologize and repent. This vision of love is likely the most pervasive and is passed off as simply as good as it gets. But that's not true. Each of us values sacrifice and nobility over selfishness, we simply struggle to really believe it.
Do yourself and your beloved a huge favor and reject selfish love. Pursue noble love that doesn't ask "What makes me happy?" nor even "What makes them happy?" but what is BEST for them? What brings out holiness and character and infuses value and honor? Sexual escapades and hook-ups accomplish the opposite and are never given fair treatment in movies. We never see the aftermath and the soul-wounds that men and women carry with them forever. Noble love builds up, protects, reinforces, champions, and defends at great cost to yourself. And yet for those who have practiced and experienced noble love, you've learned the invaluable reality that in sacrificing we actually receive more than what we gave up. This is the love of God in Christ for you, stated perfectly in 1John 4:10, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins."