Saturday, June 30, 2012

Less Like Falling in Love

"Evangelical teenagers were coming to describe the Christian life as falling in love with Jesus and experiencing the "thrills" and "happiness" of a romantic relationship with him. Perhaps because they believed so strongly in a personal relationship with Jesus as the center of Christianity, they didn't question what might be lost when that relationship was equated with an erotic, emotional attraction to a teen idol." - Thomas E. Bergler

You know, this is really interesting to consider.  My small group just finished reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, and in chapter 18, Miller talks about the problems with the fact that the dominant metaphors we often use to describe other kinds of love in the church are economic metaphors.  In the very next chapters, however, he didn't have a problem with using the evangelical American church's dominant metaphor for relating to Christ: romantic love.

As one who has an outsider's view of romantic love, I have really found this metaphor and its consequences disturbing, especially in the church.  God's love, as depicted in the Bible, is so much more than a crush, puppy love, passion, or even the best romantic relationship ever.  Why would we want to reduce it to something so much smaller?  There is no one metaphor that can contain God's love in the Bible because it's that big.  He's God, after all.

On top of that, it seems like if we-the-Evangelical-US-church are doing this to try to make Jesus (and Christianity and the church) more attractive to others, this is the wrong tactic.  People outside the church are aware of the limitations of romantic love (despite also seeming to glorify and idealize it as the ultimate kind of love available to humans), so why would they be interested in a temporary, often emotion-based relationship with an unknown quantity they can't see, let alone have sex with?

Are you uneasy with this metaphor?  Do you have any thoughts about this or what metaphors might be better to emphasize?

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