The Love That Saves You

“Back in 1973, in his just-as-upbeat-as-you’d-imagine book The Denial of Death, Becker prophesied the wedding industry’s explosive growth when he introduced the idea of apocalyptic romance. To fill the void left by capital-R Religion, Becker claimed, we turn first and foremost to romance. ‘The love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one’s life. All spiritual and moral needs now become focused in one individual.’

“Becker foresaw what many of us experience every time we attend a wedding, that there is no more fertile ground for seculosity than romance and relationships. Let’s run down the checklist:

  • “Do we look to romantic love to tell us we’re enough? Check.
  • Do our relationships often house our primary guilt-management system? Check.
  • Does romance provide a (theoretical) route to transcendence and salvation? Check, check.
  • Do we ritualize it into oblivion? Hey now.” —Seculosity, David Zahl, pp.18-19

What is your opinion on the romance that weddings have become? As well as all of the pre-wedding “requirements” that ratchet weddings up to a cost of a 5-digit number. That may be your cost for attending weddings considering the wardrobe you need and the locations you are asked to travel to.

Weddings are a lot.

It has not always been this way.

This religion of Enoughness has done this to love too.

We are culturally ridding ourselves of church and religion but our DNA requires a religion. Religion is part filter–how do you organize your life; how do you make your decisions; what is important? It is also what you lean on to tell you that you are okay and that your life matters. Religion helps you organize your life.

In the vacuum of church being removed this new religion of Enoughness has been created because our DNA needs a religion. This god of Enoughness asks for continual sacrifice from us and it is never enough.

Wherever you are most tired, you will find a righteousness at work; the drive to validate your existence; to know if you are loveable; to find a standard of enoughness. And those you choose to hang around—your tribe–need to validate this. Or the love for a lifetime you desire you believe will fulfill this too.

Remember though that this is never enough.

Righteousness is a religious word so it is also tossed aside. Enoughness and righteousness are actually close synonyms. Both imply a standard of some kind. But righteousness sounds too religious, to pious, too judgey. Righteousness sounds absolute thus it feels authoritarian. So righteousness is not cool. Enoughness is more subjective thus less threatening. But both are spiritual treadmills with Enoughness having a dangerous slipperiness to it with shame.

Beneath your search for love there is shame. Are you loveable? Are you enough?

Shame loves to lie so don’t be surprised if this is a new thought for you.

Shame is a big reason why it has become so hard to find love. We have all of this new-fangled technology to meet many worthy people. But it is never enough. You freeze in decision-making wondering if this one is “the one.” Maybe someone better is out there. Or you commit to the match you are currently with as “the one” without discerning that this is not a good match. Having this match is enough, until it isn’t.

Shame cripples you into believing that this decision MUST BE YOUR LOVE FOR A LIFETIME. (Caps yelling on purpose.) This decision must complete you. So maybe you will believe that you are enough or someone will tell you that you are enough so you can get off of the enoughness treadmill.

“Where once we sought someone to meet our material and societal needs, today we seek someone to meet our emotional needs. Or so the story goes.

“Upon closer examination, it could be that we haven’t switched models so much as combined them. Renowned marriage therapist Esther Perel characterized the arrangement this way:

‘We come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide:  give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence, and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability. Give me surprise.’

“Sub out ‘an entire village’ for ‘God’ and the truth of what we are actually looking for comes into focus. We want to marry a savior.” — Seculosity, David Zahl, pp. 29-30

(I love this book!)

There it is. This is why weddings have become transcendence. It is a celebration of love that is to transcend into the spiritual. Whether the couple is functional or not.

Notice how this wedding trend matches the people leaving church trend.

You’ve been living without a savior for your reasons. What have you replaced as your religion? What have you made to be your “saving moment?”

A love for a lifetime will not fulfill that. No one person can. Perhaps the divorce rate is so high because we actually have overburdened marriage with unrealistic and overly romantic expectations. We expect our other to be our lover, best friend, confidant, co-parent, and sometimes business partner. We expect that person to save you and validate your very existence.

This role belongs to Jesus. He is your savior. The message of Jesus is you have a chance to know that you are loved therefore you are worthy and valuable. This is a personal savior, a God who is for you. Saving you from the pharisee of yourself.

We need a savior. A savior who’s message is love and grace. A savior who says you aren’t good and you are still my tribe. A savior who spoke words to you first in that secret place before you were born.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Psalm 51:6

This is written from my longtime pastor’s heart. I know you probably have valid trust issues with God. I wrote a Bible study about that. I also believe that this article is triggering something in your soul. Please listen to that “knowing.” And I’m here to talk further.

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