As I was saying last time, I have something of a hard time relating to God as Lover.
It seems to be the one aspect of Who God is that our modern Christian culture has become most fixed on, and I’m just not feeling it.
If what I’m hearing on Christian radio is anything to go by, it seems that the overwhelming majority of contemporary worship ties into this Divine Lover thing. From “and heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” (which is so embarrassing to sing that they rewrote it as the barely better “like an unrestrained kiss”) to “Jesus I am so in love with You” to that dreadful “More like falling in love” that I recently felt compelled to deconstruct.
Apparently, though, it’s striking a chord with people, or it wouldn’t be so prevalent. Yet at best it leaves me a little cold.
My personal attachment to the ideals of knighthood can’t be the entire reason why I find it so problematic, surely? There are enough tales of chivalrous romance and courtly love that I have difficulty seeing that as the sole reason. Almost certainly it plays in, but I severely doubt it’s the whole explanation. What, then?
My troubled history with romance can’t be it, either. I know plenty of people who have love lives far more tempestuous than mine ever was who really seem to get into the imagery of God as Lover. And here am I in the sphere of Mars, struggling with the imagery of a Venusian God.
Intellectually I can acknowledge that the Bible does talk about God using the images of Bridegroom, Husband and Lover, but I don’t feel very comfortable with that imagery on a personal and emotional level. It feels… unnatural. Nearly blasphemous, sometimes. The relationship of Lover and Beloved is one of equals, something which our relationship with God is definitely not. Painting God so exclusively as Lover seems like trying to bring Him down to our level, or raising ourselves up to His. And the near-sexual imagery is just weird. Sloppy wet kisses and falling in love, breathy bedroom-voiced worship leaders and “passionate” lyrics. Ugh.
Like the images of Judge, Mighty Warrior, Prophet, Priest and King, it’s an imperfect metaphor. I understand this intellectually. And yet I have far less problem with the conceptual non sequiturs involved in these other Scriptural portrayals of God than I do with the whole Lover thing.
Am I just an emotional midget? Shrunken, stunted, unable to truly give or receive love?
You can ask my wife, but I don’t think so. I just don’t find the romantic imagery very helpful, or even all that Scriptural sometimes.
It’s not that I have a problem with Scriptural emphasis on the love of God, either; just our modern romantic imagery for it. The Song of Songs is in the Bible, but it’s not the whole thing.
Maybe it’s just that it’s become so prevalent. I do have a bloodyminded tendency to swing away from any extreme position I encounter in a desperate search for balance. It was reading Richard Dawkins that turned me off of evolution, after all. But I’ve had this same problem for the last 12 years.
I returned from Central Asia, where the dominant theme of the new Church’s worship was “Jesus is risen; He’s alive; He’s beaten the power of the enemy” just in time for Matt Redman’s Intimacy to be released.
I wasn’t feeling it then and apparently I’m still out of step with the rest of the English-speaking church. But I just do not get this whole focus on intimacy and silly romance lyrics for what ought to be worship. From the sphere of Mars, our modern Venusian image of God is more than a little uncomfortable.