I just ordered John Ensor’s book, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart, from Crossway. As the publisher’s summary says, “There is a radical, biblical alternative to much of what is taught and practiced today regarding relationships. Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart presents a bold plan for escaping the swift currents of contemporary patterns of hooking up, shacking up, and breaking up. It draws a compelling vision of complementarity between the sexes. It instructs men on what to do and informs women on what to look for in their mutual pursuit of a healthy, tender, long-term relationship.”A quick look at the table of contents gives us a look at what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like:
He Initiates . . . She Responds Hhe Leads . . . She Guides He Works . . . She Waits He Protects . . . She Welcomes Protection He Abstains to Protect . . . She, to TestHis Unmet Desire Drives Him toward Marriage . . . Hers Is Rewarded with MarriageHe Displays Integrity . . . She, Inner BeautyHe Loves by Sacrificing . . . She, by Submitting He Seeks His Happiness in Hers . . . She Seeks Hers in His He Is the Primary Provider for the Family . . . She, the Primary Nurturer
Here’s an excerpt from Chapte 3 “What The Heart Lacks“, in the section titledThe Idolatry of Idyllic Love
If we do not seek our happiness in God and make him our perfect and everlasting happiness, then every good thing becomes a substitute for God; it becomes an idol. I am thinking particularly of the common practice of pursuing human love and romantic relationships as the one great passion of our lives. Do this, and you place a burden on it that it can never bear. This is what happens in romanticism and idyllic love. The idealism and romanticism foundin so many paperback romances and films reflect our search to find our eternal happiness in a human relationship. But idyllic love is a false pursuit. It is a mirage; it is a phantasm.Idyllic love is pornographic in the sense that it presents a relationship as we idealize it rather than as it comes. In pornography love is idealized as sexual satisfaction without intimacy, friendship, or obligations. It is not real. In romance novels it is idealized as intimacy, friendship, and manly sacrifice and suffering, with no body noises or smells. This, too, is unreal.Idyllic love is idolatry because it places on a man what only God can provide. No man can fulfill the deepest longings of the human heart because these longings belong to God alone and cannot be filled by another. Our desire for a healthy, tender, passionate, enduring, mutually fulfilling life with a good man or woman will always be a work in progress. There is no perfect marriage, only two people pledged to live together for better and worse. The best lover is still a sinner. As Shakespeare said:”Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.All men make faults…” Sisters, to look to any man to be your all-consuming delight is to set him up for failure, and then you will hate him for disappointing you. You will find what you are seeking only in Christ.