Dear Neasa and Fitz,
I have very much enjoyed this conversation. Fitz, you have provided some excellent advice. Too often real people mistake this simple truth between humans:
“Love is in the earning, not in the yearning.”
We are too often attracted to people and things that are the most harmful to us.
I think the Florence Nightingale illusion has too often blinded young women, in that they believe they can rescue the poor misguided boy by their love. To me, that is a false saviour complex that is a formula for disaster.
Christ loved us in our ugliness, but He never compromised His values in His pursuit of us. The temptation and the lure are to think we can, by human effort hold fast to our values and virtue and “redeem” the rogue, by our compromise.
That is why we are told to love our Saviour in the most supreme way, making it seem like we hate all other relationships by comparison. (See Luke 14:26)
2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us not to “yoke” together with non-believers, meaning enter into a relationship of joined purposes that so bind us with the other, that we cannot easily separate. Yielding our heart, our romantic feelings, to one who serves darkness is not in keeping with God’s command:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. [Proverbs 4:23 NIV]
It too often grieves me that Christian girls run after the bad boys, but it tells me something about them when they do:
They don’t put their love for Jesus in the primary seat in their own heart.
I know these statements are not going to win me any points and are difficult to hear for some, but I cannot keep silent when I see yet another precious child fall into this entrapment even in stories. Hollywood has so brutalized the hearts of women with its false messaging in myriad “romantic” stories.
To me, I want to see a story of romance in that the heroine seeks reflections of her most cherished lover (Jesus) in the tarnished mirror of her purported love interest. She is not to be his savior. She may give kindness to an enemy or a deceived person, but if she is to be the one that readers empathize with, let us not give a false picture of where an attraction to darkness leads. If she follows that path she will need “divine intervention” to get her out of its ensnared morass.
More often, and more realistic is what you said Fitz, the change and redemption arc needs to be personal for the “villain” or anti-hero, without the lure of “the prize”. God doesn’t bribe us into His Kingdom. He invites, but will ultimately give one their choice. To be with Him or to be separated from Him. The fact that true separation from Him results in Hell is beside the point. The god (Satan) of this age has blinded the eyes to that most certain reality. (2 Cor. 4:4)
A woman’s love is insufficient to make a man good. It takes a sincere faith and connection to The Vine to do that. Once an evil man receives and secures the love of a “good woman” he knows she is “yoked” to him and he will revert back to what he naturally knows and that is the patterns of his prior self, and like it or not she will be drawn into his patterns by the chains of her desire for him.
My dad is a pastor and we have seen this tragic pattern play out over and over again with “good girls” raised in the faith.
James 1:17 says: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Young women need to think about this and internalize it in their “romantic notions”.
The thing they need to asks themselves about any suitor they are considering for a romantic relationship is this:
If God is the source of all good gifts, is this the kind of man God would choose to give me as a mate that would lead me into a life seeking God’s kingdom?
If the answer is no. She needs to consider well if she is seeking to define “good” by her own definitions or by God’s, and realize only He knows what a future with this person might bring.
I do love you both and I pray that God’s wisdom will lead you and enlighten you in all the gifts that He has given you. Pray for wisdom. Don’t take my words, seek Him in all things, and especially in matters of the heart.
Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
I was born in war.
Fighting from my first breath.