Romance and Philosophy

by Max Andrews

One of my professors mentioned this concept in class and I wanted to expound on it.  When you say “I love you” to your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé[e], or spouse the profundity behind that declaration is incredible.  So, if my beautiful wife asks, “Why do you love me?” what do I say?  Well, I give her my reasons of course… but at what point do I originate my reasons?  Yes, God has orchestrated the world that it be this way but what factors are involved in God’s providential molding?

I believe the question of love ultimately comes down to the individual’s agency, their free desire and choice to love.  If all my reasons to love are external then that would seem to imply that there could be external reasons for me to stop loving.  Here’s a few examples. I love my fiancée because:

  • She has a beautiful smile.
  • She is fun.
  • She has gorgeous eyes.
  • Her personality complements mine.
  • She is kind and gentle.
  • We had memorable moments.
  • Etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but I chose features and examples that a lot of people will say up front.  All of these are external features and reasons.  What if these change and

  • She is in a car accident and loses all of her teeth and half of a jaw.
  • She stops enjoying the same things as you.
  • She has glass eyes or loses her eyes due to a medical condition or accident.
  • She gets diagnosed with a condition that affects her personality and becomes violent or emotionally absent.
  • She becomes violent.
  • The recent bad times outweigh the good times.

If all my reasons for loving are countered would I still love?  You may be able to see the issue here.  I imagine everyone is saying, “Yes, of course I would still love!” But the question is, “Why?”  I love my fiancée because I choose to love her.  I may be completely content with adding external reasons (which normally are what attracts in the first place), but I love her because I choose to love her.  So, if Leah were to ask me, “Why do you love me?” it would come down to, “Because I do.”  Resting a series of cause and effect relationships (reasons for love) within a personal and free agency is a perfectly adequate explanation and stopping point.  An agent is the only point at which a series of cause and effect relationships can begin.  Yes, I could refrain from choosing to love, but being consistent, it wouldn’t be because of her.  It’s my love for her and that’s what makes it so valuable.

Perhaps this may assist you in understanding God’s love for us.  There’s nothing that we do to warrant God’s love because if there ever could be a reason, we messed it up.  God loves us because he chooses to love us.  God isn’t self-determined to love us, it’s an expression of his own freedom and desire to love.  God is under no obligation to love us.  He doesn’t owe us anything.  Remember, he did not have to create anything at all.  This also follows that there’s nothing that we can do to change God’s love for us.  We can never be too dirty or evil that will cease the divine flow of love over us.  So next time you say “I love you” to someone keep this in mind.


9 Responses to “Romance and Philosophy”

  1. Very interesting post. It’s worth thinking about it.

  2. Absolutely right on. This actually could go along with an article I just wrote. Ultimate realities are not relative, but based on God’s unchanging character.
    My site is therecoveringlegalist.com.

  3. I never expected an excruciating and rare disorder to happen to me, but when it did my husband stayed. He didn’t understand, and we had no life together for a while because I couldn’t function. Kissing him or getting close caused more pain, so I was ready to let him go. We’ve all heard the expression “true love waits,” but in my opinion, true love stays. Change is inevitable, but grace gives us the ability to accept and overcome impossible circumstances. Great entry, Max.

    • Isn’t that a beautiful thing? I think this is such a great testament to your husband’s love (and to yours). It’s nothing external or anything that causes him to love you because if that cause were to lose its effect (i.e. some of the cause/effects that you mention) then it would be reason for him to stop loving you. That is, of course, if it were because of anything of those things. Joyfully it wasn’t, that’s just bonus on the side. The reason why your husband loves you and stays with you is because he chooses to love you, independent of anything that you. No lack of ever-present causes you do could change that because it would not have a determining effect on him! Of course, we love because God loves us, which enables us to have the romantic love towards another, and we can trust that that cause isn’t going anywhere :-) It sounds like you’ve got a great marriage!

  4. This is profound. Of course this is something I’ve come to expect from Big Brain Max.
    I was going to shift perspective on this issue by gathering up the pragmatic loose ends to tie it into the nice bow of Christians In America, but I’ve lost my train! Like MacArthur, I’ll be back.

  5. I agree regarding that love boils down to choosing to love. However, the philosophy of romance is not complete without asking yourself the following question: what is romantic love? in other words, what makes the love of a friend or a parent different from the love of a lover? Does it have to with sexual attraction? not at all! for there are those that love each other romantically and yet are unable to have sex. others choose not to have sex because of righteousness as they are not yet married, but they still love them. so, we see that romantic love is not linked to physical intimacy. Is romantic love based on spending the rest of your life with someone? not so, for one may choose to live their entire life with their parents or with their friends, but this would not be romance. is romance a partnership? yes, but it is not merely a partnership, for there are various pairings in all fields of life that have nothing to do with romance. Is romance having a family with someone? Not at all, for one can be miserable and hate their partner, and yet still maintain a family with them.

    To tell you the truth, i haven’t quite figured out philosophically what romance is yet. I can recognize it in my mind, but there are no words currently that i can conceive of that can express the concept in a way distinguishable to that of friendship. This question may spin your head a bit ;).

  6. Max, I was thinking about this. You make some excellent points. However, doesn’t God love you and I more than he loves other kinds of creations (lilies for example).

    “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” – Luke 12:27-28

    Why does God love us more than lilies and grass. It seems evident that there is something about us that makes us more precious to him. Since Adam, man has been called to commune with the creator in a way no other sentient creature can (not even the angels).

    For this reason, I do not think that the reasons we fall in love are necessarily as shallow as it might seem. (Still not of course comparing it to God’s love) Yet, consider that just as God seeks communion with us instead of other things, we seek communion with our significant others and other close persons in our lives instead of other persons. Adam was amongst many great creatures and yet he was alone until there was one with whom he could relate. Is God so different as we might suppose?

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