Monday, February 21, 2005

A Rant on Love

"Why are there so many forbidden relationships?" When a friend of mine asked this over dinner recently, I must confess that I had misunderstood her. I thought she was questioning why so many relationships are forbidden or why so many were forbidden at all. What she was actually questioning was why so many were entering in relationships that were clearly forbidden. Ah...

She had been discussing how her best friend had recently and unfortunately fallen in-love with a "non-Christian", a fact which has upset her and prompted her to ask why such forbidden relationships exist.

This was, for me, quite ironic since my wife had been in a similar situation with her, our friend, some years before, when she took up with somebody who, though not exactly a "non-Christian" but was definitely a bad one.

Here, I feel I must digress a little bit and qualify my terms. Most of my friends refer to people like Roman Catholics, Christian Cultists, and the rather bad sort of persons who happen to go to Protestant demonination churches as "Non-Christian", when actually that term should be applied to people who are merely not Christian: Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., regardless of whether they are nice or not. C.S. Lewis, I think, once stated the same thing about how people make the word "Christian" merely an adjective to describe how nice or good a person is, so a person who is not nice or who is bad is therefore not a Christian or is non-Christian.

So that bad boyfriend M- had for years was therefore not a Christian to most of my friends. It is this misconception (though understandable but still an unfortunate misconception) that has given rise to other misconceptions. But I think I have digressed enough.

Anyway, here I was, immersed in all the irony. I would have thought that, after such a messy breakup (relatively speaking, of course, knowing her), she would have some better insights as to why Christian females make the wrong choices in love. I was disappointed, however, that although she is more forgiving and more open to females doing "stupid" things, she herself still had the mindset that brought even she to the sort of impasse that she now deplores her best friend as being in.

For one thing, and this is a direct consequence of the misunderstanding with the term "Christian", I have the impression that she thinks that if only her friend would spend more time in church, she would not have chosen wrongly. She told me months before all this that she had been unhappy with her bestfriend not being as "active" in church as she previously had, and although she did not directly tell me that her bf being "less Christian" is the reason why her bf is currently in-love with the wrong man, she had the same look and tone as when she said so before. Okay, so it may be speculation, but I am quite sure that this part of the speculation is close to the truth.

What is not speculation, however, is that she, like a lot of her "kind" from SVCF, just have the wrong idea about love. I am not claiming to be an expert in love, but sometimes a rank amateur, for instance a child, can point out that even the emperor has no clothes on. For instance, immediately after her breakup last year, I told her (in what I thought was a good-natured way) that I hoped that she would still find true love. I was surprised when she said that she already has. What the-? She has just broken up and now there's someone else? But even as she said those words, I already had a sinking suspicion, and so I was not surprised this time when she said that the true love she was talking about was God's love.

I cannot tell you how much I despise those who, with faux wisdom and a misplaced faith, would disseminate that notion which has become the source of so much unacknowledged happiness amongst the females I knew. And for a while I did despise M- for thinking this way, but more so that small clique of women who more ardently promote it; I had thought that M- had somehow changed her view on this, since she thought it was okay to get a boyfriend and all. But this!

On the surface, it seems very good theology: the love of God should satisfy all desires. Right? And on the basis of that premise... assumption... presumption females (and not a few males) are told that to romantically want them of the opposite sex is somehow less glorified and less blessed. This is, of course, the Roman Catholic view which, though it professes that marriage is one of the sacraments still considers that sacrament to cause their priests to sin. So, my "batch" was told that wanting a girlfriend or a boyfriend was not only not important but also not urgent. "Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will grant you the desires of your heart," they preach, misquoting and misrepresenting scripture.

As a result, plenty of "my batch" pursued other endeavors, completely circumventing those unimportant "matters of the heart" then, years later, finding themselves alone and that part of them empty, a part God never intended would be empty, and then finding that most of those who would have been good mates either taken or irretrievably lost, they do that which another part of false theology (that whatever happens, good or bad, God actively wills to happen) justifies them to do: go after the wrong person.


Is it really unbiblical to suggest that God's love just isn't sufficient? Yes, and here's the proof: long before the fall when creation was rejoicing in its perfection and man was made in God's image, the only thing that was not good was that man did not have his own kind to be company. Oh, there were friends surrounding man, all the prelapsarian beasts and, of course, God in all his splendour and glory. But, for some reason, man needed a mate. If God's love had been sufficient then for this particular need for companionship, then there wouldn't be any females. There wouldn't have been any need God, of course, knew better. "And so a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves with his wife," right? This need and desire became even more acute after the fall, as a result of the fall.

But these "remnant" (as we have come to call them) have so controverted it that they would lay hold of unsuspecting youngsters and tell them otherwise, calling celibacy a "gift", just like prophecy or glossolalia (though, by and large, they have cheerfully ignore their own little advice and gotten boyfriends of their own). M- for a while, preached a tamer version of this, but changed when she got paired with P-. And even now, though she pays lip service to the notion that celibacy may not be a "gift" but rather a "choice", she still feels confused as to why females, i.e. her best friend, would say that they can "live without any man" and then go out and pick precisely the wrong sort of man. I, on the other hand, find it presumptious for females, including her (dear though she is to me), to go about saying that they can remain single their entire lives without needing any man. I will get back to this shortly.

H-, her best friend, I have been, unfortunately, expecting that she would fall for just the wrong sort of man; though when I talk about "wrong" I am talking about someone who is either a non-Christian or a nominal one—if the guy hadn't been "nice" in some way, I really doubt if H- would have fallen for him. Just because H- is a non-Christian doesn't mean that he isn't a great guy. It's just that, especially for a Christian, there are more things that make up a relationship than just being cool with a guy. In fact, we SV Guys have been calling this particular phenomena the "Curse of the SV Females", that they would fall for an obviously nice guy, sometimes a good father and husband (not always) and love them with all their hearts, but after the wedding would rarely go to church or, if they do, would be nominal (at best) or hypocritical (at worst); and their children suffer. I should know, since I know some teenagers now who are children of an SV Female gone, well, I don't know how to describe it, and they are going about doubting not only our denomination but the entire Christian religion as well. So, the SV female "happy" with her man, but had forgone much better happiness and familial well-being in not only the emotional/psychological sense but also the spritual sense. I am not speculating here. I am talking statistics. Most of the SV Ates I know who have married non-Christians or nominal Christians or Roman Christians rarely, if ever, come to church or even talk about spiritual matters anymore. I know them. On the other hand, there are those SV Ates who have given SV Guys or other Christian men a chance early in their stay at UP who are beaming mothers (though not trouble free) and active in their church and ministry.


Now, going back to the dangerous presumption, when they convince themselves that their well-being and esteem is not tied to some man (I could just remember the lectures of two particular "elder sisters" who were proponents of this; one was unceremoniously dumped by her long-time boyfriend for "some reason" and the other is now connected with someone younger than she). All in all, this notion, this presumption is delusion and by and large self-defeating. M- herself used to propose that it is φιλια (philia, that love between friends) that is the greatest love, that people can live without, and she used to imply that it is recommended to live without, ερος (eros, that love between man and woman). Anyway, she stopped saying that when she got hooked up with P-, but what I fear is that, now that P- is nothing but a jerk for all intents and purposes, she would go back to that belief. I guess that is why she was so hard hit by the "betrayal" of her best friend, if φιλια was the greatest love. Maybe that is why she is now saying that the one true love is αγαπη (agape, the love of God).

Well, that (in some part) I do not contest. The love of God is the greatest, but to say that it can fulfill a need that God which Himself saw could not is delusional. H- thought that she can handle it, and therefore gave no thought for it, which surprised her as a consequence, and she was unprepared. So was M- before, ερος just wasn't important enough to think through about, and so she once ended up with P-. Part of it, I believe, is the term itself, the root word for the English "erotic". Nowadays, "erotic" is seen by a lot of Christians as unworthy of a Christian's notice, as it is associated with the sordid kind of sex. Originally "eros" only meant "romantic love". Just because writers have hijacked the term "eros" and made it into something else doesn't mean that the love itself, that love between man and woman, is equally dirty and sordid. It isn't "lust". Nowadays, people use the term "making love" to describe sexual congress; it would be a poor world indeed if someday even the term "love" would be seen as dirty and sordid. The real term for lust or desire, by the way, is not ερος but επιθυμια (epithymia, lust/desire).

But, SV females, in the flower of their youth, are made to believe that 1) ερος is not worth thinking about or planning for (as you just let God's will happen), and 2) that the only worthy kinds of love are στοργη (that love between family members), φιλια, and αγαπη. They went through their entire college lives doing the "sensible thing" and repressing their natural God-given desires, then finding themselves later with a dwindling circle of friends that they start seeing rarely (so much for φιλια), and being acquainted with and being influenced more and more by their secular workmates and acquaintances, pulling them away from fellowship with believers and, in some instances, church altogether (so much for αγαπη).


I thought I could be able to finish that yesterday, but I wasn't able to. And so, I continue ...


There is something odd and disturbing about our society's values and priorities in this particular area. There is always taken for granted that nobody is too young to learn about a profession. As young as pre-school, we take them to firehouses, hospitals, office buildings, etc. in an effort to educate our young on the notion of finding and keeping a job. As early as we can, we teach them responsibility and discipline. We explain why Daddy (or Mommy) has to work, we teach them, if we can, the value of money and how to use it. Kids are rewarded if they show that they are enterprising, while we frown on those parents who, for some reason, wish to shield their children as long as possible from the world of economics. All this, in spite of the fact that a growing number of people who graduate from college do not end up with the profession they actually studied for; which is, of course, all right. I mean, it isn't immoral or anything to find out, eventually, what job one enjoys doing and get paid for at the same time.

But, for some reason, our youth is always informed about the way of love virtually at the last minute possible. I am not talking about sex education; that we get in abundance from both good and bad sources, factual or inaccurate. What I mean is the kind of education that answers the following question: 1) What is "being in-love" and how do I know if I am in-love? 2) What is infatuation and how do I know if I am merely infatuated? 3) What is the difference, if there is any? 4) What do I do, or how do I behave when I find that I am in love? 5) What do I do if I find it is just infatuation? 6) How far do I go, sexually, and not do anything immoral? You know, those questions.

As it is, most of our youth get their education on the way of love from TV and the movies, none of which I can observe say anything useful about the matter. It isn't the writers' or the producers' fault; stories that are interesting to watch must contain some conflict, and every good love story will have a some sort of conflict. So, even if the shows are good (and most of them are bad) our youth get a skewed vision of what the way of love is like: jealousy, love triangles, wrong choices, social blunders and faux pas, etc. It is like watching an adventure movie where your freeway is the scene of exciting car chases and horrific crashes, then going out and expecting real life to be like that. True, there are lots of good movies that show real love, but they are very rare and far between. No, if they are to get their education on love, they must get it elsewhere. The sensible and logical thing to say is, of course, from family and some sort of social organization.

But families rarely talk about these things even when they know what to talk about, and they often don't. Most families I know (thankfully, not mine) discourages such discussions. Bata ka pa! May gatas ka pa sa labi! but in the same breath... Matututo naman kayong sumikap at maghanap-buhay. Is there any wonder why our teenagers reach puberty knowing exactly what to do with their genitalia, but not knowing when it is proper to use them?

The importance of committment, for instance, is almost never discussed. The consensus amongst the youth, even amongst my Christian friends, is that committment is very fluid. Whenever anyone mentions committment in the context of before marriage (and in one memorable instance, committment after marriage), they usually come up with this doomsday scenario: Paano kung loko ang lalake? Paano kung kinakaliwa ka na? Paano kung sinasaktan ka na? Granted, these are instances of times when one stops committing; it's only logical.

But to use the "allowability" of dissolving committment as a reason to actually dissolve it when things become "uncomfortable"?


I kept on being interrupted as I wrote this, so my train of thought was also interrupted, with this lame ending as a consequence. However, I hope to be able to revise this someday into something readable because I think that these issues need to be discussed.