Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is wrong with romance in our culture?

As a writer of historical romances, I find the display of so called romance on TV shows, movies, and some books a complete perversion of the true meaning and value of the way God intended romance to be.

This is how the story usually goes:
Boy meets girl.
Boy thinks girl is totally hot
Girl thinks boy is totally hot
They jump in the sack and have passionate sex
Something happens that puts a rift between them (no wonder, they barely know each other)
They separate. Miss each other.
Problem gets fixed and they jump back in the sack
They live happily ever after

But do they live happily ever after?
The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%; the divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%; the divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

Wow, you would think that by your third marriage, you'd have a clue what you were doing wrong!

There is a reason God asks us to reserve sex for after marriage. It's not because He's some kind of meany or kill-joy! After all, He created sex. And since He created it, He knows that the thrill of the physical act fades, along with the physical beauty of your partner, over the years.   If that's all your relationship is based on, you're in big trouble.

We live in a world where everything revolves around physical beauty. The beautiful, sexy people are the ones who get all the attention, have the fame, the money, have the hot boyfriends or girlfriends.  No attention is paid to the far more important aspect of a person. Their character. Kindness, Gentleness, Charity, Selflessness, Honor, Honesty, Patience... you get my drift.

Trouble is, determining a person's character takes time, perhaps even years. Romance in God's eyes is far too slow for our fast-paced society.  God wants us to wait. To get to know a person before we hop into bed with them. Believe me, you don't get to know a person that way. Sex is a very powerful force that will consume a couple and steal their focus off of what's truly important in their relationship. It glosses over all the possible problems that will surface later. It covers up a person's true character and replaces it with the allure of "having a good time."

When a relationship is based purely on physical attraction, it is doomed to end tragically. Leaving behind heartache and a feeling of dirtiness and unworthy.  The worst part about it is, the same promiscuity that is found in the world is also found among Christians. Why? Because somewhere we bought the lie that the rules laid down by the Being who Created us, rules meant for our happiness, are archaic and need to be adjusted for our contemporary culture. Somehow we believe that God couldn't have possibly predicted that someday it would be accepted and normal to have sex with whomever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

Might I suggest that in His wisdom and foreknowledge, that's exactly why He gave us His Word in the first place. He knew that in the middle of the darkness, we would a compass to point toward the light.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Since I've been up all night and don't have a functioning brain, I'll leave it at that. Thanks for sharing something I think is at the root of so many problems in our society.

  2. Tues Apr 17th,
    "Morning, MaryLu.
    Well ... Amen, and, Amen to today's blog ... you sure nailed it on-the-head !
    Today, many people have this -- 'drive-thru, fast-food service' idea of 'instant gratification' ... immediate sex, with no obligations !!! Just 'wanting' ... what they 'want', when they 'want' !
    But just as our Christian walk and relationship with the Lord takes -- time, development, listening to, learning and growing, being obedient, pleasing Him and not yourself, being commited, etc ... so does an earthly relationship.
    People have "fooled themselves" into thinking that -- love is sex, and sex is love. But that is all so meaningless, empty, short-lived, and ends up being a major disillusionment.
    They feel that God is "old-fashioned", and that the Bible is from MANY centuries ago, and not relevant to "today's living and lifestyles".
    God ABSOLUTELY knew what He was talking about .... and what He said back then, is STILL most relevant and applicable to - today ! His way is ALWAYS best !
    To discover the 'inner beauty' of a person (and not focus on the outer only) ... takes "time" ... something many are not willing to invest.
    Thanks for sharing this meaningful word today, MaryLu .... now, if we would only listen to God and His Holy Word ... and obey !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  3. First of all, I completely agree with you. It's not just because of this issue that I'm glad God gave us the Bible. Everything in life is covered in His Word.

    Currently I'm researching for a novel that's historical - we're talking ancient ancient times (the Bronze Age). Sex then wasn't a whole lot different than it is now - you want, you take, you move on.
    It wasn't supposed to be confined to marriage necessarily.(It's going to be tough for me to write a novel that lines up with my morals without being preachy since these people weren't Christians.)
    I can see where the Victorian age is referred to as the 'gilded' age, but I don't think there was a period of history when things were better than they are now, necessarily.

    Natalia Gortova

  4. Love this post! That about sums up my feelings right there.

    I also have to agree with Natalia in the fact that you can go back to see that what people do today is no different than other periods in our worlds history. Even in the era of your Destiny Series it was almost expected of a man to have a mistress and the wife was just supposed to look the other way and oftentimes she strayed from the marriage bed as well.
    I think we are more bombarded with it now because of all the different types of media outlets we have.
    As the mother of four boys it is one of my greatest prayers that God will help me raise them to be true gentlemen despite all the images that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

  5. Thank you for so bluntly addressing this sad dilemma. And thank you for writing fiction that contradicts the culture and shows people how to live according to a higher purpose.

  6. Beautifully written, Mary Lu. And oh-so true.

    And the break-up of that first marriage stings even more when you know you did everything right, no boundaries were crossed, and still he's a liar and a two-faced jerk. Who learned nothing from the experience and is continuing to lie.

    Ah well. I learned and grew and as a result I'm a better writer, and a better person.

  7. Whoa this is so right on!
    It is hard trying to remain pure and single minded surrounded by such media approved sexes.
    I am still single and am waiting for the man God has for me. Yet I have to admit that I have watched and read things that have sexes in them.
    Thank God for mercy. I do not condone my sins in the least. It is hard to live with myself after watching or reading such things. It is my greatest temptation.
    God's grace abounds over our sins.

    Shelby Z.

  8. I totally agree with you, MaryLu, and it is so important for us to stay in the Word, so that we can guide the younger generations in the right direction. Keep them coming!

  9. Hi Ladies, Thanks for your encouraging remarks! I realize we are in the minority on this issue and it's often hard to speak out against the crowd. But how else to offer them an alternative? A better way to live their lives than what the media says?
    Yes, it seems like this loose morality was prevalent in nearly every age.. except perhaps early America. The early settlers came here to avoid religious persecution and most were Godly people... but of course that is gone now.

    The trick to writing a story set during a decadent time is to offer the beaming contrast of God's way to the worlds and show the devastation that comes from just "doing what feels good".

    Rachel.. so true. We can be duped into believing a man is who he says he is.. only to discover otherwise too late. God's wisdom must prevail, but often our hearts are too tangled up to hear it. Still, like you said, God can use your experience for His glory. I have a similar testimony!

    Shelby, it is so hard for you young people today. I don't envy you. Only by God's strength can you resist all the temptations that surround you. My advice (from experience) stay close to God, rely completely on Him and wait for Mr. Right. You'll be so happy you did!!

  10. I could not agree more. It can be hard to wait, but the wait is worth it. I truly believe that. I am waiting and sometimes I get impatient, but all the credit goes to God for keeping me and believe me I want to be kept by the Lord.

  11. MaryLu,
    Thank you for this blog. I, too, am waiting for God's choice for me, and some days it's more difficult than others. That's why I enjoy reading books like yours. Books that show what a Godly romance is supposed to be like. So, thanks to you and all Christian authors who do such wonderful work to bring us these beautiful stories. :)

  12. It's so easy to get impatient, Tiffany, isn't it? Especially when you see other girls with boyfriends or getting married.. I love your statement "kept by the Lord".. perfect.

    Angi, I didn't realize you were single. That's one of the reasons I write.. to show romance how it is supposed to be. :-) Glad I and other authors can entertain you before your prince charming comes.. :-)

  13. I wish more people had the opportunity to ponder this, instead of gulping down the lies sold so cheaply to those who yearn for 'true love.' What a wisdom filled post.

  14. So true! And very disturbing when the church has a higher divorce rate than the world. Praying for a repentant church...starting with me.

  15. Dorothy... I wish I had known this or someone had told me when I was young. As it was, I bought into the world's lies and messed up my life pretty good until the Lord rescued me.

    Julie, yes.. something seems amiss with the church, doesn't it? Have we let the culture creep into our mentality? More on that in next week's post.

  16. I agree with you and am definitely saving it for after marriage. I am nearly 17 right now (b-day is on the 23rd) and I hope to get married someday, He has got to be a Christian,and we have to really love each other, not just attracted by appearance. I am reading a book right now called "Dancing on Glass" which deals with a girl who marries a guy who isn't a christian, she hoped that he would get saved but now he even forbids her of going to church. now she sees that she has made a bad mistake!
    It's a good book! the Author is "Pamela Binnigs Ewen"
    Thanks for the Blog Post!
    God Bless!

  17. This is so true-and the post couln't have come at a better moment in my life. Can you believe that EVERY ONE of my friends-even some family members- think that something is wrong with me because I haven't dated or slept with anyone???!! Its ridiculous! I'm considered abnormal because I'm waiting for God to show me the right man at the right time. Now, I'm like all other girls: I want to have a guy that loves me, and will commit to a lifetime of togetherness. But not at the cost of my walk with God.

    I truly believe that the "take it when you want it and move on" theme blasted out of the media has created an epidemic in America. I mean, just look at those divorce ratings! You would think that more pastors would address this issue from the pulpit. Because it is a huge issue!

  18. How refreshing to meet young girls who are saving themselves for marriage! I'm so proud of all of you. :-)
    Happy Birthday Abigail! That sounds like a great book! I married an unbeliever too.. so I can relate. Big mistake.. only by God's intervention have we survived!

    Eszter, sadly I can believe that everyone in your life feels that way. It's a sad testament to our culture today. Everything seems backwards. Evil is called good and good, evil. And some pastors don't address it cause they don't want to lose people in their church.... what a shame.

  19. Wow! I love this!
    At my youth group we've actually been talking a lot about this.
    We were given a bunch of metaphors. The best is this: man is yellow paper. Woman is blue paper. When they get married and have sex they are superglued together. So divorce, when separated, the papers are torn apart and blue is left on yellow and vice versa. But if man and woman don't get married and don't have sex but have a pure relationship, the papers touch but when they break up, no yellow isleft on blue and no blue on yellow.
    We've also talked about women being gifts to thei husbands.
    Another metaphor was: women are a water balloon. Every time you sleep with a man out of marriage, a little hole is poked in the balloon. And eventually when you get married there'll be nothing left for your husband. We talked about how sex is good within marriage and hoe Eve was presented to Adam. And etc. plus our youth pastor gave a good sermon using Song of Solomon to say wait for the right man, and how our Christian brothers are supposed to protect our purity and not just us but all women. Not to let the woman be a door but to put planks in front of the door, even if they are the ones who want to be bad. Really good discussions. I'm glad I have a good mentor and they're telling this to kids.

  20. How refreshing that some youth pastors out there are teaching about this! I'm so thrilled to hear that. Thank you for sharing what you've learned, Rebekkah. Those examples are fabulous! The balloon is my favorite. I don't think women realize how much they lose of themselves with each man they are with. I love the part where Christian men are supposed to protect women's purity. So chivalrous and honorable!

  21. Thats amazing that youth pastors are still talking about it. I hope you don't mind if I share some of the examples you've given with my family.

  22. yeah my youth pastor, former youth pastor, and pastor adressed these topics. I'm glad they did!
    Yeah use the examples absolutely!
    I like the balloon one too. I can't imagine what it would feel like to realize you lost so much and it was probably to some loser who'll never talk to you again.
    We had another example of a cliff. Where with each step you get closer the closer you are to "jumping off the cliff" which symbolizes sex. So faraway from the cliff would be a hug and getting closer would be stepping it up notches, things that someone would be like, "well, it's not sex, nothings going to happen..." but it's closer to the cliff. Until you "jump". It escalates so quickly.
    We were told to pray about our husband to-be's even though we don't know who he will be or if he will be. My mentor said if we have a boyfriend or later a fiance, then we pray to be "hot when the ohter is cold, and cold when the other is hot".

  23. Amen, MaryLu, I couldn't agree more. But I have to say this, that not all the media promotes the cultural 'ideal' we see today, but the ones that don't usually get a bad lash. For instance, I'm a big supporter of the Disney Princess. Sure, they give girls wrong expectations about figure (so does Barbie) and hair styles, but they also promote working hard, having a good heart, being intelligent, and having self respect. And what Disney prince treats his princess with nothing but respect, romancing her? (Okay, so the beast is a bit gruff at first, but the whole point of the story is about having a good heart.) And, I must point all, all but three of the princesses actually are married in their movies, and the other three you can find fan pictures of them in wedding attire (Snow White, Aurora, and Belle). Yet they are currently bombarded by women because they all have a man and women in today's society can't need a man. True, women should be able to be strong on their own, but what is so wrong with seeing men treat women right? And I have to point out the Twilight series, especially the books, are a big proponent of abstinence until marriage, and actually has slight religious undertones, as Carlisle was the son of a preacher. There are places that still support the old fashioned romance, and the kind of partnership that one man and one woman have in a marriage, but because our society is so focused on 'sex' that we ignore the good messages for the ones that make us 'feel good'.

  24. Ah, yes, Karen, I agree! There are some shows and some organizations that promote abstinence until marriage and good values. I wouldn't expect anything else from Disney. Love their movies! And I had heard about Twilight. Stephanie Myers is a Mormon, I believe, so I'm glad she stuck to her values in the books. We just need more books and movies like these!