I’ve been reminded of what it’s like to fall in love, which is weird since I was a hopeless wannabe romantic for much of my early adulthood.
It’s funny how you can forget for a variety of reasons without even realizing it, whether you’re married or single.
The delight of flirtation given and returned; the intriguing mystery of learning a person for the first time; the thrill of pursuing and being pursued; the passion and emotion of first holding hands, of kissing, of caressing; the risk of letting yourself be known, of letting your guard down and being fully vulnerable; the way your heart speeds up with anticipation.
It’s completely intoxicating.
And intoxication is an apt metaphor, as Robert Palmer has proven to be a prophet: we’re addicted to love.
There are few things in life that produce the pleasure and emotional highs of falling in love, so it’s no surprise that romantic love has become our civil religion.
Love is a wonderful and beautiful thing, and it’s only natural that those of us who have been blessed by it are motivated to make it central to our lives and would hope that other people are able to experience the same kind of joy.
What becomes problematic is when the pursuit of romantic love defines us, when we make it the ultimate end of our existence.
I think most of us do this. I certainly have and continue to have moments of being tempted to do so again.
It’s completely understandable because, again, it’s one of the most pleasurable human experiences.
The trouble is that our culture portrays romantic love as the be-all, end-all against an often-subtle philosophic backdrop implying humanism and nihilism.
Romantic love is frequently depicted as the only thing in life with any true meaning. There’s something inherently sexy to us about lovers who forsake all things for the other, who give up family, culture, ethnic divides, careers, religion, even their own lives.
This is essentially the only belief that nearly everyone in our culture can agree on, yet for those of us who do ascribe to a philosophy or religion that accepts the existence of the divine, this subconscious belief is a betrayal to the person(s) with whom we are supposed to place our ultimate love and allegiance.
The betrayal isn’t in believing that romantic love is awesome; it is in unknowingly making romantic love more important than our love for God. It is in buying into the concept of romantic love that is sold by our consumer culture and in being more concerned that someone find human romantic love instead of finding God’s all-encompassing love.
Marx was essentially right in portraying religion as the opiate of the masses because governments and people who influence culture can easily appeal to the prevailing beliefs of a people in order to assuage and distract us with one hand while directing us according to their agendas with the other.
I’m not suggesting some insane conspiracy theory but hope to promote awareness of what many of us don’t realize we actually believe.