“I think I should go ahead and tell you; I’m not in love with your mom. Actually I never have been. It’s high time you know the truth.“
In my insatiable curiosity, I chanced upon this piece of “theologically correctness” about a week ago. I shall not reveal this paragon of dour and clueless. The prurient know exactly how to sate their mongering curiosity.
There has been need to rebuff the temptation to deliver sizzling riposte. But disdain and disgust eases into pity, first for the exquisitely gorgeous looking wife, then for the kiddies, and finally for him. Well begrudgingly the latter. Excruciatingly embarrassing memories, you know, the ones which spawn eternal self-loathing, have habit of humbling pompous scorn.
In responding to the travesties of the age, the overly conscientious and the overly rectal have habit of slinging past virtue towards the equal and opposite vice; in this case, from being perilously beholden to the wild and ungovernable frenzies of passion, in the Hellenistic sense of the word, to being studiously impervious to spontaneous and reactive passions/emotions which might disturb, even in the slightest, one’s stoic equanimity and thereafter one’s holiness.
Herein, I may be performing an erroneous eisegesis on this husband’s psyche while betraying my own past struggles. However, to the victims of this husband’s passionless love, it amounts to pretty much the same. But to get full taste of this theologue mindset:
“Because love isn’t something you feel. Love is something you do.”
Technically, love and action, just like faith and action, each belong to different psychological planes. Love is an underlying motive for what one may do. But the exact same doing can be motivated by motivations other than love. Was this not Christ’s persistent declamation against the scribes and Pharisees? For while lack of deed may betray lack of love, deed may elsewise emanate from duty, which true or not, the recipients of such a love may legitimately feel.
“My goal as a husband is to mimic Jesus’ love for His church.”
Our goal is not to mimic, but rather our desire is to embody Jesus’s love. When Christ declared that “He IS the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), this is the language of embodiment. Love is not a raiment to be donned on, but a geyser which flushes out from the depths of a deeper-than-emotive and all-encompassing passion. This is something that I too did not comprehend in my spiritual youth. For it is a fruit which cannot be manufactured nor simulated by human device.
“Love is not something you feel. . . Here’s the problem with falling in love . . . anything you fall into can be climbed out of . . . when viewed as a mere experience – always fades away. And in today’s society, when something fades away, it is thrown away.”
Love is something that one may and may not concurrently feel at different times of relationship. When the motivation of love is accompanied by emotive passion, certainly the motivation will be inherently strengthened. And who can argue against that? The true concern of this rectitudinal theologue is undue dependence upon unreliable emotive passion, instead of upon steadfast motivation.
It is a silly notion to repudiate falling in love, which this theologue, betrayed by his own words, admits to exist. He may not just wish it for himself out of fear of being “enslaved” to his spouse. Or in not being personally capable of it, or perceiving himself incapable of it, he is rationalizing his own shortcomings.
Should we not get horny, because it is mere experience, which always fades away? Should we rather be like Augustine’s rationalist Adam in Eden, without desire or pleasure in the act of marriage, and sex is as banal as putting the key into the right keyhole?
Should we not fall into giddy bouts of uncontrollable laughter at one of our favorite comedians or movie comedies, because this is a vanity of vanities and contrary to decorum? Should we not grieve at the loss of our parents or our childhood pet, such as is suggested by the seriously disordered psychiatrists of DSM-5 infamy, because, you know, the show must go on? Stiff upper lip and all that.
The pitiable chap has but glib comprehension of the nature of love. And sadder still is that this glib understanding is married to an arrogance which seeks to spread its virus onto the world.
An Inhuman Christianity – A Depersonalized God
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me . . . For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother. (Mark 7:6b, 10–2)
Contained within and accompanying Christ’s castigation of the magisterial waywardness of the Pharisees, is a likewise complaint about the inhumanity of their religiosity. Such will perform acrobatic feats, in theological zeal and dedication, for the esoteric God whom they have not met, and whom they really do not know. Such can don on a most dour frown of humility. But such are oblivious to the genuine needs of their flesh and blood fellows, whom they have met, and even oppress them.
This travesty is not always in a form that we recognize. We might identify it in the fine and upstanding country club Christian enterpreneur who complains about the minimum wage and those who will not work in dead-end and deadening jobs which steal their souls for the sake of subsistence. We might become aware of it in the self-ordained prayer warrior who is unwilling to be the instrument through which those prayers are answered. But we often celebrate rather than be wary of the “Anabaptist” types, who cannot proffer their forgiveness fast enough for the rapist and killer of their daughters, in the name of theological rectaltude; even before the corpse has grown cold and stiff; and thereby disrespect the depth of the atrocity visited upon their supposed beloved!
It is a cold and dutiful Christianity; rectitude without soul, without heart, without passion.
The God of Eros
Love is that deep-seated motivation which seeks the best welfare for the one loved. (From the perspective of the beloved, that best welfare may not be seem as such. In deep and complex wisdom, love may require a course which differs from the obvious and simple-minded.)
But love need not be that ecclesiastical/Kantian unconditional love, without thought of self, so idolized by seminarians in the term agape. Be it true that God loves the unlovable and seeks their best welfare, despite of themselves. But it is also true that God loves the loveable, as He demonstrates in loving His Son in whom He is seriously delighted. And it is ultimately His purpose to make us loveable so that He might delight in our loveliness.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Love can likewise be defined as seeking to be in the presence and one with that which is true, good, excellent, and beautiful. It is to delight in the beloved and to delight in the delight of the beloved. In marriage, it is to be immersed and submerged in a unity where one does not know, nor care where one ends and the other begins. Be it true that sin naturally causes harm, and harm naturally causes distrust and recoil from that submerged unity. The pursuit of virtue in ethic and ethos and of grace is partially intended to prevent and ameliorate that natural inclination.
But unless this glib theologue has a spouse, a sister, in which it can be really said that She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way, his studied dedication to not fall in love with his wife and public boastfulness to that fact can only be reasonably understood by her and by all who encounter these foolish sentiments as a true insult to her virtue and value, her honor and inner beauty.
The first thing this Sheldon Cooper ought to do is remove his paean to theological cluelessness.