The images flashing across the screen were all too familiar. I knew I had witnessed this very scene before, but with different characters and a different setting. Yet I sat mesmerized.
I was watching a chick-flick.
The female character is stuck in a dead-end relationship with a guy who won’t commit. She travels across the world to keep said guy, who always seems so aloof to her needs and wants. Then she meets a dashing, handsome, sensitive man who she bickers with at first, but eventually falls madly in love with because he understands her every need, unlike aloof boyfriend. And then comes the moment of truth. Should she stay with Mr. Non-Committal or marry Mr. Wonderful? After much agonizing, Mr. Wonderful wins and they live happily ever after in either marital or non-marital bliss. Regardless of their marital status, they are together and the movie patrons are pleased, including me.
Now I’m not going to lie. I enjoy a good romantic comedy. I also like a good ending, preferably one where everyone I like ends up happy and married. But have you ever noticed what the constant up and down of a whirlwind movie romance does to your own understanding of romance? Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself slowly thinking that being understood fully by a man who sees my needs before they are even realized is the way to go. Who wouldn’t want that? The Bible tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, so I should expect nothing less, right? Sure, as long as he can expect that I will always submit to him and respect him with a happy heart. A steady, unregulated, diet of romantic comedies can make me slowly dissatisfied with covenant-keeping love with my husband. The characters in romantic comedies tell me that my needs are ultimate. They tell me that relationships can be ended at anytime, especially when someone better comes along. They tell me a lie.
The danger with romantic movies, like so many others have said, is that if we are not careful we can begin to see the casual nature of a relationship as the norm. Very rarely do movies present strong, covenantal, life-long love as the relationship worth finding. It’s not exactly a box-office selling point. Marriage has been so squandered by those inside and outside of the church that our culture doesn’t see it as anything special anymore. But God, the creator of the universe, sees it as infinitely special not because we do it right all of the time, but because it points to something far more glorious—our Christ and his Bride, the Church. If we really grasped the wonder of this mystery we wouldn’t want to settle for anything less in our own marriages and in the ones portrayed on our television screens.
My heart is corrupt. And so is yours. Regular consumption of media that lies about God’s design for our lives can have disastrous effects on our souls, if we are not careful. Does it mean we never consume secular media? Of course not. But it does mean that we have a sober understanding of the fact that there is a Devil out there seeking to devour our understanding of marriage because he hates the image it represents—Jesus Christ.