Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Myths about Christian Romance: the Attraction Question

The series on the optimal system for Christian romance is now concluded. As readers of the blog will note, I've suggested "dateship," in which couples fuse the best elements of both dating and courtship for a careful, thoughtful, and engaging relationship. That's all well and good. Today, I want to look at a common myth related to Christian romance, namely, that physical attraction does not matter.

There has flourished in certain circles the idea that physical attraction need not play any role in the evaluation of another Christian for marriage. Clearly, there is some good to this mindset, chiefly that it pushes people back toward a biblical view of attraction. It's pretty clear to anyone with even the slightest degree of cultural awareness that American society has gone stark raving mad when it comes to physical attractiveness. We wildly overstate the importance of physical attractiveness in relationships. Yet in attempting to correct this heinous trend, Christians can run to the other extreme, as they so often seem to do, and in doing so lose sight of the fact that the Bible does not degrade physical attraction between a husband and wife. One could argue that Song of Solomon was perhaps included in Scripture to prevent this very idea. The Bible does not take a pretend view of humanity. Throughout its pages, people are noted for their beauty and identified as objects of desire because of their beauty. Think of Isaac and Rebekah, David, Daniel, and many others. Of course, this quality can be overblown, and it certainly was at points in biblical history, but we cannot responsibly claim that the Bible pretends attractiveness doesn't exist or even that it degrades it. It simply doesn't.

It does degrade the overvaluing of attractiveness. From Proverbs 31, we know that "charm is fleeting, and beauty is vain." We receive here a cautionary word from the Scriptures that we not overly value physical beauty. This is a difficult task for many of us, but it is manageable with the Spirit's help. Indeed, physical attraction needs to be managed well in order for us to find our mate in this world. If we have an unhealthy view of it, we'll overvalue it, and perhaps wind up disappointed. We might also undervalue it, and wind up disappointed, realizing that we have the task of manufacturing intimacy that might otherwise come naturally to a relationship. I believe that God has given us physical intimacy to draw us like a magnet to a certain someone of the opposite sex. Sure, that drawing will often not look like Hollywood portrays it, but I do think that many of us will experience a profound attraction to the person we love. It will be only a part of an overall affection for that person, but it will be a part nonetheless. God has made us this way. Surely, we must manage our desires carefully. But we must not mute them. Don't believe the old lie that attractiveness matters most. But don't believe its counterpart, that it matters not at all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree...attraction or chemistry is needed in a relationship. It should not be the basis for a relationship, but it must have a part all the same. It is not wrong to consider that in your quest for love. The Bible does highlight beauty and desire, as you mentioned. But what is "beautiful" then might not be so now. Beauty is relative, thus comes the saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It's important not to cling to what the WORLD calls "beautiful" - for that is where we fail most often. It is perfectly natural for each of us to see certain things in the opposite sex that we are attracted to, but we need to find out what WE like as opposed to what the world tells us to like. Does that make sense? All that said, I'm not sure any longer what on earth my point was...Perhaps just an agreement to what you said, and a reminder to find that balance and hold your ground.
Enjoyed the series, O-Dogg...Hope you had a great time at home!

9:57 AM  
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7:28 PM  

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