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The Myth of Romantic Love

• Emily Morrison, Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg challenges the modern myth of romantic love, providing three reasons why it derails us from entering into a biblical view of marriage. Also, Emily Morrison provides a reframe for understanding how singleness plays a part in God’s family.

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To understand what Jesus was saying in this passage, it is helpful to know a bit about the history of how marriage has worked. Traditionally, people didn’t get married because they “fell in love.” In most ancient cultures, including ancient Jewish culture, marriage covenants were not just covenants that two people entered into for life, but covenants that two families entered into for life. They entered into it not because their two children fell in love, but because their marriage was mutually beneficial to the two families. Therefore, they were generally expected to learn how to love their spouse after they were married.

The romantic concept of “falling in love” wasn’t invented until late middle ages, and it didn’t work its way into mainstream western culture until the 19th century. Before this time, people didn’t speak of things like, “finding their one true love,” marrying their “soul mate,” or identifying the one who “completes me.”

There are three things that are problematic with this relatively new view of romantic love. First, the “buzz” of feelings for the other person wears off. The “honeymoon” comes to an end because the dopamine dissipates.

Secondly, no husband or wife can be “everything” to their spouse. The romantic myth is about identifying the one and only person who can fulfill their every need. It makes some spouses feel inadequate if their spouse looks to others to get any significant needs met. No one person can meet the needs of any other person. In the biblical view, marriage is deeply imbedded in community and in friendships. While their sexual intimacy needs are only met by their spouse, each spouse’s friendship needs are met in part by the spouse in the midst of other friends in their social networks.

The third problem is that this myth of romantic love marginalizes single people. Supposedly, a single person is only complete if they have found their “soul mate” and since that has not occurred, they are less than who God intended them to be. This is troubling.

To offer an alternative on singleness, Greg invited Emily Morrison, a single woman who serves on the Woodland staff to share. She challenges the notion that singleness is merely a time of waiting in order to enter into a real-life experience. Instead, she observes that as a single person, her life is interruptible, as illustrated by the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. Singles are not those who wait to get married, but singles are members of the church who have gifts to offer to the Kingdom. At the same time, single-hood can result in isolation and loneliness. Just as married people need community so do singles.

Both married people and those who are single are part of God’s family. In fact, family language pervades the way the New Testament talks about how the church operates. We are meant to be a literal family. God is father/mother, Jesus is our older brother. Our identity is shaped by inclusion in God’s family. As Hebrews 2:11 says, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” The way the church will thrive for both singles and couples is in the context of family and friendship. We are sisters and brothers. Family is the starting point, and marriage is an add-on.

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Topics: Community, Family, Marriage

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Change of Heart

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
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The MuseCast: May 18

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 5:31-32

    ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

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6 thoughts on “The Myth of Romantic Love

  1. Ken says:

    I tremendously appreciated the message by Greg Boyd and Emily. I am 64 and served as a US Army chaplain for close to 29 years. In August 2014 my wife of 28 years died and at times felt like a zombie. Since my wife has gone to be with the Lord I have raised my grandson and get them through high school. I’ve had two major heart procedures, A cardiac ablation procedure in 2019 and an aortic valve replacement in 2021. I also had a double osteotomy in my right leg in 2020. Greg message and especially Emily message was awesome and helpful. Both messages help me to understand that whether I ever get married again or not that I am going to be ok. Greg message on the Dopamine rush was extremely helpful. God bless woodland hills church

    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Ken, thank you so much for sharing. It sounds like God has brought you through a lot of hills and valleys. Praying that you’ll continue to feel his comforting presence as you continue to live out your story.
      – Paige from the Communications Team

  2. Ken says:

    Paige, thank you for your response. I believe Woodland Hills will always have a place in my heart. When I retired from the army at the rank of colonel I had even given some thought to moving to Minnesota and physically become part at least for a season of Woodland Hills Church. But as life would have it I was trying to single handedly get my grandson through high school. When I finished that task I was super exhausted. Then Covid hit along with all my health challenges. The good news is a lot of this is in the rear view mirror and I am extremely happy about. My plans is to move from Honolulu to Orange Park Florida 2022. My greatest fear was I iam going to die an lonely old man. That is what I told myself. Go home and prepare to die. However getting the one two punch from Greg and then Emily was so freeing. So whether married or single I felt less anxious, less desperate, less needy. That was cool. Thanks for reaching out to me!!!

    1. Paige Slighter says:

      Ken, it sounds like a new adventure is afoot! Praying that God will provide awesome opportunities for you to connect with fellow adventurers along the way.
      – Paige from the Communications Team

    2. Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Ken. You absolutely ARE going to be ok, even if it doesn’t look like what you imagined! May God continue to give you peace, comfort and abundance.

      1. Ken says:

        Wow! Emily, I really feel I can breathe. I knew everything that Greg was saying was true my 28 years of marriage was is clearly proof that you need more than a Dopamine fix. My personal experience of counseling many couples all fell into some of the same holes. Being single for the second time I still found myself holding onto the myth of romantic love.
        I particularly liked your thoughts on option three. That is a liberating option. Also Paul’s view of things was pretty cool. Your illustration of the airport movie was great. I am beginning to think the rest of my life will be so much fun not because Life won’t continue to slam me, because it will, but because I have a third option. The third option really frees me up and put me in a good place to make decisions as I seek the Lord’s guidance. This time with me being a little less clingy and less demanding that life has to be a certain way. Less anxious Thank you again for your message!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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