I don’t think too many people will argue that pornography poses a significant threat to our society and the institution of marriage. What I feel gets overlooked is the pornography directed toward our hearts and emotions. This more covert brand targets our perception of love and romance, creating a potentially damaging unrealistic ideal of what they should look like. They raise our expectations to a level that no human being, no demigod or demigoddess could ever meet. I would argue that this is just as much an issue as its visual counterpart as it is not as gender specific.
In all honesty, the topic for this post came to me from watching Megamind last night. I don’t know why this particular movie brought it to the forefront of my attention, but I couldn’t help notice the theme of fighting for the girl that pervades the plot. The fight for the affections of Roxanne is the driving factor for the plot in the last at least third of the movie. This got me to wondering what my perception of romance really is. I’m bombarded daily with fairy tale situations and ideals that romance and love should be this, that or the other airbrushed concept, but where do I find my heart in the midst of this full-frontal assault?
Admittedly, I’ve watched more than my fair share of chick-flicks as a guy. Even more embarrassingly, I own a few as well. I’ve chosen to see several movies where a fantasized version of love and romance is the only semblance of a plot. I’m pretty sure at this point, I could write my own screenplay and it would at least be passable in the genre. So what? The problem I recognize in my own heart is that I’ve become so used to these ideals that I often forget that like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, Prince Charming is DEAD.
I realize that may have been a little harsh, but please bear with me. OK, so Prince Charming was never a real person to begin with, but my heart does not want to accept that as truth. It took a very rough breakup to even begin to scratch the surface of this struggle and another few years to revisit the unhealed wound in my soul. I cannot be the perfect guy. Sorry, self, I’m not Christ either. I’d love to be able to walk on water and provide my princess with the fairy tale ending, but I’m no prince, no white knight. Only painfully and grudgingly am I confronting this now.
What is scary is as I peek my head above the comfortable foxhole I’ve buried myself in for the past few years, I see that this poison has permeated media as I know it. It’s everywhere. The iTunes top ten chart, the movies, TV shows, you name it and it’s been overtaken by perverted version of romance. A movie directly marketed toward kids (though riddled with references from the 80s and 90s) rife with the stuff. What are we feeding our children? What am I feeding myself?! (In case you didn’t catch on yet, no, I don’t have a wife or kids). I’m sorry, but is it really so alarming that the institution of marriage isn’t doing too well?
I’m not making light of the situation, in fact I mean to cast a little more light in the direction of this catastrophe we are watching. While the bigger problem is the divorce rate as a whole, I think the deeper issue here is what the effect this emotional pornography is having on that divorce rate. How many marriages fail because “it just didn’t work out”? Now, I don’t have the statistics nor the experience to tell you that I know what that means, but I certainly have my suspicions. Having seen a divorce, albeit rather amicable one, I have a vague idea of the beast. I feel many couples ignore the “signs” because another part of their fantasy is being fulfilled. Perhaps a few couples have hit the rocks because one or both is no longer feeling the “spark” that they once felt. The relationship isn’t as magical as it once was. Someone just got bored. It seems that we have gone astray in this area as well (Isaiah 53:6).
I know many have memorized this, but somewhere along the way, our society has trampled its meaning and value into the mud of pop-culture. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” What about “never” are we not getting here? And where is there room for love not being enough? If love bears and endures all things, then for what is it insufficient? On the other side of the coin, if couples are not willing to live by this in their marriage, then they’re not getting married for the right reasons to begin with. If we are not ready to commit to a life of labor, next to the one whom we love, then is married life really life at all?
I have been bought with a price, so why do I subject myself to emotional slavery (1 Cor. 7:23)? Even a cursory glance over 1 Corinthians 7 speaks volumes about what marriage is, and it looks nothing like Hollywood’s farce with which I am most familiar. You can read it yourself, so I won’t belabor the point. Let’s make love risky, gritty, messy, sloppy, but real, visceral and rewarding. Let’s enjoy it for both its joys and trials and thank God that it has both, so that the joys are that much more valuable to us.