It depends upon what you consider romantic. Real romance is not what you find in a grocery store novel with Fabio on the cover. Giving in to one’s hormones at the drop of a hat is not romance. This is lust, and while it may be spontaneous and temporarily exciting, using another person is not romantic. In fact, too many good romantic relationships have been ruined by lust.
Only humans are capable of romance because romance is where imagination and love meet. Sometimes a person’s actions may appear romantic because they are so imaginative and thoughtful, but the actions may be done for the sake of seducing another. This is not romance, because love is absent. Only when purity is present can one tell the difference between loving romance and selfish seduction.
In fact, romantic moments do not require physical intimacy—and the most romantic couples are the ones who realize this. They know that romance requires respect. You can have lust and passion without respect (as in prostitution), but you cannot have romance without respect. When that loving respect for the other person is present, a man stirs up his romantic creativity not for the sake of getting something from a woman but for the sake of expressing his love to her.
Lust, on the other hand, is boring, because it allows no room for mystery and anticipation. Everything secret is given away. The pure have more passion than the lustful, and it is precisely their passion that gives them the ability to build a greater kind of love. They exercise self-control not because of an absence of passion but because of the presence of love.
A twenty-three-year-old woman pointed out that there is something exciting in restraint, something that makes a chaste couple seem to glow in their wedding pictures. She proposed that chastity “may be the proof of God, because it means that we have been designed in such a way that when we humans act like animals, without any restraint and without any rules, we just don’t have as much fun.” In fact, people who have misused their sexuality are longing for enduring love. They know that being loved is much
more exciting than being used.
We need to remember that God is the author of romance. The Bible is his love story, and he is all in favor of human romances that reflect his love for us. For example, one of the most important ingredients for romance is thoughtful creativity. Psalm 139:17 says that the designs of the Lord are precious, and the book of Proverbs adds that God has glory in what he conceals. For proof that God is not the rival to love, consider this:
I recently met a young man named Kevin who was married not long ago. When he and his fiancée visited their priest in preparation for the wedding, the pastor thumbed through their baptism and confirmation certificates. Pausing for a moment, the priest looked closer at one of the documents and said, “Did you two know that you were baptized on the same day when you were babies?” The couple looked at each other and enjoyed a sense of peace that God’s hand was upon them. The priest interrupted their moment to add one more detail: “Wait a minute. You two were baptized in the same church . . . and at the same Mass!”
After their meeting Kevin and his bride-to-be called their parents and asked them to dig through the old photo albums. Sure enough, they discovered a photo of the two babies celebrating their first sacrament together, decades before God would reunite them to receive the sacrament of marriage. You have to wonder how often God intervenes like this in our lives. But when we distance ourselves from him, we sell ourselves short and settle for poor substitutes for the great love he wants to give us.
When it comes to the topic of sexuality, the media tell us that the most exciting sex is outside marriage. In reality the opposite is true. In 1999 USA Today published an article titled “Aha! Call It the Revenge of the Church Ladies.” This report summarized the findings of the most “comprehensive and methodologically sound” sex survey ever conducted in the United States. The first three sentences of the report say it all: Sigmund Freud said they suffer from an “obsessional neurosis” accompanied by guilt, suppressed emotions and repressed sexuality. Former Saturday Night Live comedian Dana Carvey satirized them as uptight prudes who believe sex is downright dirty. But several major research studies show that church ladies (and the men who sleep with them) are among the most sexually satisfied people on the face of the Earth.” Now isn’t that special?
The article concluded by saying that the Bible’s teaching on sex would “come as a shock to those who believe that God is a cosmic killjoy when it comes to sexuality.” The world constantly tells us that when it comes to sex, everyone is doing it, and the people having the most fun are the wild singles depicted on television sitcoms, while married life is dull and unromantic. However, according to the researchers who published the sex survey just mentioned, “The public image of sex in America bears virtually no relationship to the truth.”
Of those having sex, researchers found that the least satisfied were unmarried people. Those who had sex outside of marriage were aware that while it may have felt good during the act, that did not mean they felt good about themselves afterward. The guilt coupled with the anxious fear of being used, becoming pregnant, or contracting a disease lessened the sexual satisfaction of those who were promiscuous.
On the other hand, research showed that those who were married to a faithful partner had the highest reports of sexual enjoyment on both a physical and emotional level, and they were most likely to feel “satisfied,” “loved,” “thrilled,” “wanted,” and “taken care of.” Contrary to what the world incessantly says, research shows that marriages benefit from a lack of premarital sexual experience. In other words, great sex is not the result of sexual experience and technique. If anything, sexual joy is the result of a happy marriage, not the cause of it.
Lastly, it has also been discovered that “married couples who pray together are 90 percent more likely to report higher satisfaction with their sex life than couples who do not pray together.”. If we are only interested in doing what gives the most pleasure (which we should not be) , the facts point back to God’s original plan: “A man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) .
. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 193.
. Proverbs 25:2.
. William Mattox, Jr., “Aha! Call It the Revenge of the Church Ladies,’ USA Today, February 11, 1999 (www.usatoday.com).
. Robert T. Michael, John H. Gagnon, Edward O. Laumann, and Gina Kolata, Sex in America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), 1.
. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality, table 10.5, 364.
. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality, table 10.7, 368.
. William R. Mattox, Jr., “The Hottest Valentines: The Startling Secret of What Makes You a High-Voltage Lover,” The Washington Post, February 13, 1994.
. Les Parrott III and Leslie Parrott, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 145.