More Hyperspiritual Views of Love
by Glenn Conjurske
The hyperspiritual views of love and marriage, which we have often opposed in these pages, have evidently spread over the modern church like a flood. I read very little of modern Evangelical literature, and usually only such as comes to my hand without my seeking it, and yet in what little I see, I find these hyperspiritual doctrines prevailing everywhere. The April 2001 issue of the Answer Magazine has just come to hand. I know nothing of this magazine beyond what I see in this issue. It is obviously evangelical, though not very conservative. It contains an article by one John Saunders entitled “Love: What It Is and What It Is Not.” Here we meet with the usual assertions that love is not an involuntary emotion, that it is a deliberate choice
—-that we choose whom to love, and whom not to. Such doctrine is as dangerous as it is false, if applied to romantic love, but Mr. Saunders practically disallows the existence of romantic love. After giving a glowing description of romance, he declares categorically that this is not love, but fantasy! —-though he elsewhere allows that romantic love (fantasy, we suppose!) should be part of marriage.
But the most interesting thing in this article appears when he commends the practices of the East, where mates are selected and marriages arranged by the parents. The author affirms that he would not advocate this for the West, but yet avows his belief that the parents would do a better job of selecting mates than the children can do themselves. If so, it must remain a mystery why he would not recommend the practice for the West. At any rate, he cites the maxim of a Hindu, which happens to be identical to the maxim which I have heard before from a Christian
—-a prominent leader in a thriving, conservative Evangelical community. The maxims are identical in substance, and that because they proceed from the same source, namely, hyperspirituality. Hyperspirituality is rife in false religions, and this ought to open the eyes of Christians to its true character. Here are the statements of the Christian leader, and the Hindu:
The Christian: “The world, they marry the one they love. We as Christians love the one we marry.”
The Hindu: “You westerners marry the girls you love; we Hindus love the girls we marry.”
Thus does hyperspirituality agree, among Christians and pagans. But how utterly empty must such love be to a woman’s heart! Here is love which exists not as an involuntary response to what she is, but as a mere choice on his part, a choice which has nothing to do with her personal charms, and which he could make towards any other woman as well as she. He that thinks thus to love a woman knows nothing whatsoever of the nature or needs of a feminine heart, nor anything of what marital love is.
All of these hyperspiritual systems, whether pagan or Christian, invariably deny the existence, the importance, or the true nature of true romantic love. The Christians who follow this unnatural way delight to publish their showcase examples of smiling newlyweds, but a missionary who was familiar with the parent-arranged marriages of the Hindus says, “I need not say that the system is productive of incalculable wretchedness.” How could it be anything else? Those who publish their shining examples ought to print also the tears and heartaches which must be the lot of others. Alas, the usual brow-beating of hyperspirituality will rather blame the unhappy couples, than the system which made them so.
Those who determine to marry a girl with whom they are not in love, expecting that love to develop later (as Mr. Saunders assures us it will) are only taking a leap in the dark
—-and a very foolish leap, which may well be the suicide of their earthly happiness. For my part, so long as God gives me life and breath, I shall never cease to oppose these hyperspiritual notions, and my readers may count me their truest friend for so doing, for I labor to secure their true happiness, which is the thing which is always sacrificed at the altar of these hyperspiritual doctrines.