How can you separate the good life from love? Can life really be good without love? Everyone wants to be loved unconditionally even as they realize how ordinary they are in looks, intellect, personality or all of the above. If someone rich, attractive, smart and full of personality fell in love with an average Joe or Jane, without an ulterior motive, well, it would be a dream come true for millions.
What does real love look like? A young couple sat next to each other in a restaurant. Between bites they dreamily looked into each other’s eyes and whispered words of affection. Conversation came easily from the deep well of their love. Suddenly, the young man paused with his fork halfway home. “Look at those two”, he beckoned to his adoring fan. She followed his gaze across the room to an elderly couple sitting across from each other. Their worn wedding bands sat prominently on the wrinkled and bony fingers. The grey and white hair spoke of decades of devotion. Wordlessly they spooned steaming soup between their lips. Never a word passed between them. “How sad,” he whispered. “All those years together and now they have no words of love for each other”. “Or maybe,” she thought out loud, “their love is so deep it does not need words to express it.”
Is real love physically passionate and personally fulfilling? Most would be disappointed without it. However, is that the essence? Is the goal of love to have all of my desires met in all its forms, or to sacrifice my wants seeking to do the best for my love within the bounds described in the Bible? A chapter in the New Testament book, 1 Corinthians, is known as the love chapter. It describes a love that is patient, kind, never jealous or demanding its own way.
How very different is the love described in the love chapter from themes of bondage and domination explored in the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”. The love actions from the chapters of the book turned movie are more about fulfilling self through the emotional abuse of another and forced sadomasochistic sex with one’s partner.
It is easy to think when choosing to read the book or watch the movie, “I know it is just make believe”. The brain’s chemistry, however, cannot tell the difference between real or imagined. The excitement and perceived pleasure is the same. Some may cross over from imagined to real. Bronwyn Lea said, “I know, too, that once you’ve seen something you can’t unsee it…. I don’t want sex and fear to go together in my heart or in my head.”
In Fifty Shades, Kirsten Andersen writes, “we have a story that has touched the hearts of millions of women, and underneath its filthy exterior, at its core, it’s about unconditional love and redemption.” Friends, people of The Book, this is our story. The Good News is about the unconditional love of God freely given to ordinary and broken people. It is not just given to us, but through us. Kirsten says it best.
“If a hundred million people will shell out for a counterfeit paperback version of a love we live every day, we should see that not just as an attack, but an opportunity.
Love is our story. Let’s tell it better.”