Sunday, August 30, 2015

How Is Romance Different With Spirituality?

I think romance is a form of love that is distinguished by a high dose of passion, as the Greeks once sorted love into several categories: Agape (unconditional), Storge (empathetic), Philia (friendly), Mania (obsession), Eros (erotic).

I don't really buy the whole 5 category system, but it is interesting how love can be viewed differently in specific circumstances. Nevertheless, I do agree that erotic/romantic love is quite different from the love we have for friends (philia) or family members (storge). 

My point is that romance is a form of love that is of extreme passion. I cannot imagine people living a content life without it. There may be people out there who may say that love from their friends and family members are enough for them to keep on going. However, would they really be able to say that if they had prior experience of true passionate love?

Romantic love is one of those physical needs in life, just like eating, sleeping, defecating, feeling respected, and so forth. You probably won’t die in absence of romantic love, but it is a necessity that your physical body craves for in order to feel content. A simple act of kiss, touch, or hug may be enough to fulfill this desire for security and satisfaction. In addition, our partners may not have to be incredibly handsome or beautiful in order to fulfill our cravings for romance. Maybe this is how how one night stands come about.

If romance can be easily fulfilled, then why are we so picky about looks, financial stability, education, and all of these “valuable” traits we seek from a partner? It’s probably to look good, to feel self-worth. Really, romantic gratification can be achieved that easily as long as we surrender our body to the other, and attachment will naturally follow. I may be overly simplifying the concept of romance, but there is a fundamental biological component in romance that is really much more simple than what we usually make of it. 

However, I think there is something that makes humans different from other mammals in the sense that there is more value to romance than plain physical gratification. Humans have a need to be understood, appreciated, taken care of, and at the same time the urge to help others. People with a sound heart and mind have a drive to have compassion. This aspect is what makes human romance a little more special and complex. Concepts such as compassion and selflessness between partners are not animal-like traits. They are true to humans and it is a great testimony to morality and maybe even spirituality.

Spirituality in my opinion is a gift from God that allows us to experience God’s goodness. We may not have to be believers in order to appreciate such gift. After all, we were created by God in His own image. I am not too surprised that nonbelievers can practice benevolence and selflessness. It is what makes humans beautiful and different from all species. It is a gift that was given unconditionally to everyone. However, it is different when we are aware of the fact that spirituality is given to us specifically "by" our creator, our one and only God. When we acknowledge God and integrate spirituality into our romantic lives, things begin to look different. There is grace, there is unconditional love, there is understanding, there is thankfulness, there is joy, and there is purpose to life. We all know that endless problems arise between two human beings, and it is when we put God at the center in our lives that our eyes are opened to humility and selflessness. 

I am not saying that Christians who live spiritual lives all live a flawless life. In fact, it is the opposite. This life is full of sin, suffering, and trials that challenge all of us. It is during these trials that we hope our relationship with God allows us to see God’s grace and experience thankfulness and joy. If we can be content even through times of trials, especially during crises in our romantic lives, how much more would our love towards our partner be amplified and appreciated?

We all would agree that there is a limit to how much physical gratification can bring joy to our lives. After a humongous and glorious steak dinner, if we see a dead body with maggots savoring it right in front of us, our temporary delight in the glorious steak feast would flee us in seconds. Same with romance. It is spirituality that allows us to appreciate our physical bond with our partners even during dark hours, and this is what we Christians should always be aware of. After all, it is God who has placed this special person as our life long partner in our lives. If we do not understand who the real protagonist is in this love drama, great danger of delusion awaits.

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