Why Romantic Love Exists
A reflection for Valentine's Day
My college boyfriend had convinced me that he loved me utmost, until I found out he was secretly flirting with other women. I was shattered. I almost went crazy. I did not recover from it quickly, and I did not stay in the relationship.
I have often wondered, though, why did I feel so devastated? Why are exclusiveness and fidelity so essential to a romantic relationship? Why is romantic feeling so passionate and tenacious, and why does it tend to linger much longer than reason and better judgment allow? These things do not happen in ordinary friendships.
Romantic Love — Hardwired Into Our Emotional Makeup
I knew my experience was not unique. Romantic love, at all times and all places, seems to share common traits. Something or someone must have hardwired romantic love into our emotional makeup. Now, as a believer, I know who that Someone is.
One day while I was reading the Hebrew Scriptures, the answer suddenly presented itself to me. God repeatedly demands His people’s exclusive loyalty towards Him. In the book of Hosea, He likens His relationship with them to a man’s relationship with his wife. His heart burns with anger when her heart lusts after other gods. Despite her disloyalty, God cannot disregard and abandon her. In His pain and anger, His heart still yearns for hers. He works on her behalf and is always willing to take her back when her fidelity is restored.
I think God purposely designed romantic love into our psyches, along with all its unique characteristics, to show us the nature of the intended relationship between Him and us. What better way to know in what way He, the God of universe, relates to us, and how should we interact with Him?
A Divine Romance
There is a general notion that tends to view God as absolute ruler; the Christian does little more than obey the ruler’s rules. That could not be further from the truth! To know God through Jesus is to enter into a divine romance. He loves us with relentless passion, pursues our hearts with utmost determination, and desires us to reciprocate with unwavering fidelity. Christ calls the Church His bride. This includes all who believe in Him.
The image reveals Jesus’ tender love for His bride. It also suggests how much love the bride should give to Christ. Anyone who has fallen in love would grasp this perfectly. We can make sense of Christ’s incarnation and passion in many ways, but one of them is surely the framework of a romantic relationship.
His love demands a response. When I first met Jesus, after being an atheist all my life, my heart glowed as with burning flame. Everything seemed to look and feel more pleasant. My environment, real and imaginary, felt much broader and more cheerful. My future looked brighter, more hopeful. Most of all, I was surrounded by the awareness of being deeply loved and appreciated and my heart was consumed by this divine romance. I remember running through an empty church parking lot and shouting, “Jesus, I love you!”
God fashioned romantic love in us to model the relationship He intends to have with us. Sunday is Valentine’s Day, a day to express our enchantment and devotion to the ones we love. As we celebrate romantic love, it is good to remember why it exists in the first place: To help us understand God’s love for us.
Chenyuan Snider was raised in Communist China and majored in Chinese language and literature in college. After immigrating to the U.S. and having studied at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and Duke Divinity School, she became a professor and taught at Christian colleges and seminary. After March, 2020, she sensed God was leading her to use her unique voice to provide a warning about various kinds of Marxist influences in our society. She lives in northern California with her husband and has two grown children.