We Christians find ourselves faced with the imminent reframing of marriage as an open ended cooperative arrangement, based on what amounts to feelings and a fancy party, rather than practical and eternal vows made to God and community. Man and woman are no longer joined in an exclusive bond. Anyone can play the game so long as they can pay the fee. This can be blamed – at least in part – on the fact that we have relinquished the honest but necessary troubles of Passion, tempered by the holy nature of Love, and have substituted in their stead their opprobrious little sister, Romance.
We must be pragmatic about the purpose and function of Passion in our temporal lives. While Passion is not Love, she is Love’s righteously jealous older sister. She is tempestuous and often inconsistent, but she burns for what she burns, and we are rightfully afraid of her. Without Passion, adultery would be only an expected hiccup in marriage, murder would be merely one door closing and another opening, theft would be a nuisance and nothing more. Love moderates Passion, but Love is not a singular substitute for her. Passion feeds Love, waxing and waning, but always seeking the brilliance of the sisters being together, matured and burnished, in happy coexistence. Passion anchored by Love provides the boundaries of order and care that allow for men and women to flourish in the relationship designed exclusively for the marriage bed.
Romance wants in on the dance – rather she wants to BE the dance, and when it is revealed that she cannot be what she cannot be, she torments her sisters with the cultural reflexes of pride, comparison, and ridicule. She makes fools and sinners of her suitors, all while holding them in contempt in her dark and brooding heart. Romance misses the point of Love, and she scorns Passion, because for all her beauty, she cannot mean to the world what they mean. She lives a dissatisfied existence, and only in the death of her sisters does she find some macabre fulfillment, bemoaning that she was mistreated and neglected, denying entirely that her misery is of her own making, born of her ignorance and incompetence in the ways of her sisters.
It is dangerous territory for a Christian and non-Christian alike to be entangled with Romance. She looks the part of Love, she occasionally rises to the performance of Passion, but she is an illusion. She offers no sustaining reward.
Traditionalism demands clarity if nothing else. The definition of roles cannot be muddled by whim and retain any sort of integrity, nor can the definitions of words themselves be changed to accommodate transient beliefs or flights of personalization and be taken seriously.
Love is good and should be cultivated. Passion is good and should be encouraged. Romance is a hazard to be avoided at all costs.
Let us be clear.