So often, "Romantic Love" in the popular sense of the word has caused so much pain to people whether during courtships, break-ups, or even in marriages.
This sort of dominating, possessive love is decried by Bonhoeffer as predatory on genuine Christian love and community. In the Christian community our communion with one another can never be an expression of the extension of ourself into the other, but rather of receiving the other as gift insofar as Christ sees fit to gift us with one another amidst the concreteness and difficulty of life under the Word of God. ”Because Christ stands between me and an other, I must not long for unmediated community with that person. As only Christ was able to speak to me in such a way that I was helped, so others too can only be helped by Christ alone. However, this means that I must release others from all my attempts to control, coerce, and dominate them with my love. In their freedom from me, other persons want to be loved for who they are, as those for whom Christ became a human being, died, and rose again, as those from whom Christ won the forgiveness of sins and prepared eternal life.”
Bonhoeffer goes on to argue as follows, “Self-centered love loves the other for the sake of itself; spiritual love loves the other for the sake of Christ. That is why self-centered love seeks direct contact with other persons. It loves them, not as free persons, but as those whom it binds to itself. It wants to do everything it can to win and conquer; it puts pressure on the other person. It desires to irresistible, to dominate. Self-centered love does not think much of truth. It makes the truth relative, since nothing, not even the truth, must come between it and the person loved. Emotional, self-centered love desires other persons, their company. It wants them to return its love, but it does not serve them. On the contrary, it continues to desire even when it seems to be serving.”
This might scare some of the couples whose weddings I’m conducting this year. But read in context there are gems of insights and needed correctives here.
Some really funny ones in there.
But not farewell to Generous Orthodoxy 🙂