For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an incorrigible romantic. I suppose the first love of my life was my daddy. By the time I was in junior high, I’d experienced the usual pre-teen pangs of first love … and first heartbreak as well.
My first heartbreak was thoroughly distressing, but it didn’t sour me on romance … infatuation … puppy love … the possibility of loving someone so much I’d want to spend the rest of my life with him. Once I discovered matters of the heart, I spent countless hours reading about romantic love in hundreds of books, mostly fictionalized tales. I also read my share of historical fiction, tales based on historical figures but with plenty of fictional details meant to keep the story flowing and to “add interest.” (As if book publishers should have to be told the true stories are the best!)
I also watched many of the old films, films of the 40s and 50s and 60s where the hero eventually won his lady but not without some trials and missteps along the way. These appealing presentations from that long-ago time usually offered a comforting, underlying message: true love was possible and happy endings were common.
These truisms took a beating beginning around 1970 when films like Erich Segal’s Love Story was released. The stereotypical happy ending became passé and “love” earned redefinition: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Arrgghh! How I hated that!)
In general, women are romantically inclined. We are relational and nurturing. I believe that’s how God made us. We thrive in company with one another. Again, I believe that’s how God made us. (No, I’m not suggesting men aren’t relational. Of course they are, but their relational needs are different than ours.)
I’ve posted about romance before (here‘s one and another). If you’re a culture-watcher (as I am) you’ve likely noticed how the concept of romance (whether reflected via films, on television shows or in observable relational interactions) has been stunningly redefined. Look at this interesting discussion from the online thesaurus to get a sense of how the concept of romance has been massaged away from its original understanding. (Some people might call it “progress.”)
I’m struck that the medieval concept included “chivalric adventure.” It shouldn’t surprise us the definition grew to encompass “love story” elements. Yet the aspect of chivalry − courtly knight defending a lady and treating her with customary honor and deference − seems to have been chucked onto the dung heap of history.
[I know chivalry is a concept feminists rejected years ago. Without wishing to be argumentative, I don’t think they had any idea how bad a decision that was.]
In my view, God is the author and creator of this thing we call romance. I think his idea of romance is so much better than our weak concept. Long before there was a Romance language, God originated and understood our Love language. When sin came into the world, God performed the ultimate sacrifice of Love … dying himself to pay the price of our sin.
Sacrifice is one of the most important aspects of mature Love. Selflessness, too. But these qualities seem to be in short supply today.
Romantic comedies are a film genre that developed as a subset of popular films about 1989 When Harry Met Sally. Yes, I’ve watched a large number of rom-coms through the years. Yes, I’ve enjoyed their predictable plots and found it satisfying when the handsome male lead (with a winning smile) bumps into a disheveled female lead and they immediately despise each other. Yes, I know they’ll eventually wind up falling madly in love.
In more recent years, though, this formulaic presentation has become tedious for me. Why? Because I long-long-long to read/watch/see a truly chivalric adventure! Rather than a skin-on-skin insta-coupling after a passionate, twenty-minute “courtship,” I’d like instead to see (on the screen, in books, on television) relationships that build and become more beautiful with time.
Today’s sonnet expresses some thoughts about the rom-com genre. In a time when people are avoiding plastic (as a way to prove their earth-friendliness), why would they want to see it on the screen?