IN HIS NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK---Counterfeit Gods--- Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, features a cluster of interlocking idols very near and dear to the hearts of the love and sexual gymnastics generations of the 60s, 70s and beyond.
God knows we tried to make anywhere, anytime sex imbue our lives with meaning. We thought we had found the key eternal fulfillment.That our parents and grandparents were repressed fogies and prudes, while we attempted to write the definitive books on Love with no Limits or Wait Times, and Sexual Satisfaction without End.
Coitus uninterruptus. Where modesty, propriety and the labors of true love and sex within committed marriage finally came to die.
Some haven't given up on trying even to this day. They're still looking to making love/ romance enshrined at the center of their lives. Sadly many of the sex and romance gold medalists of yester year who elevated love pursuits to the pent-ultimate, are now just aging sex/ love addicts or users, with shorter hair, cleaner clothes, a respectable career and a trail of failed marriages and romantic relationships to show for it. Searching for mysteries without any clues. Yet, like Pavlovian dogs, they're desperately seeking a love hit--- from anywhere----without being electrocuted.
Who can deny the promises of the Me for All and All for Me generations have failed to deliver the ultimate things promised? Nobody says it better than the poster boys of sexual freedom without responsibility Mick or Paul.
We fell for the goods back then---many still do--- that promised forever happiness that never delivered. Unless we're talking about the goods of broken lives, shattered families, confused children, rampant sexually transmitted diseases and the big business of abortion-on-demand and pornography-without-end. We won't even talk about the world-class guilt and self-esteem/self-absorption businesses born of our sexual willfulness which has sought to repair our confused and broken lives while making many a psychotherapist/ new age-guru rich and famous.
I'll be back later with more from Keller's book and the Bible story that we might have read before embarking on our rebellious journeys into the sexual revolution. It's still salient today and with Keller's astute commentary, very, very wise.
We forget, God created sex. And he gave us the instruction manual. But past and present generations of cultural elites just couldn't be bothered with such trivia. After all, weren't we put here to show God a thing or two about sex and gender of equality?
JACOB AND HIS APOCALYPTIC ROMANCE ADDICTION
Pretend for a moment that you have met the woman of your dreams. Thundersrtuck from the start by her beauty, great figure and charm, you go to her father and offer to work for him for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. He considers and agrees. Time passes quickly because you're in the throes of such emotional and sexual longings for her. Because you never quite had your father's love the way you wanted it, and maybe your mother loved you imperfectly too, now you face the possibility of a love that will set your heart right again and instill in you a once lost sense of significance.
It's called apocalyptic romance (which hopefully leads to apocalyptic sex) and you hope it fulfills in you the deepest sense of meaning, transcendence and redemption from all past hurts and losses. This love is now enshrined at the center of your heart as God has been jettisoned to some peripheral place in your life.
This is the story of Jacob, son of Isaac in Genesis, who tricked his father Isaac out of his brother Esau's birth right before running away to another land and ultimately meeting the woman of his dreams---Rachel (the daughter of Laben, and younger sister of Leah). From the moment Jacob laid eyes on Rachel, he put all of his hopes and longings into fantasizing about a relationship with her and how it would heal his despair on a myriad of fronts On his wedding night with Rachael, Jacob went to bed besotted and woke up devastated only to discover he had instead been married to and just spent his wedding night with Leah, Rachel's unattractive sister whom he had zero attraction for.
Keller writes of Jacob's obsessive love:
Jacob's inner emptiness had made him vulnerable to the idolatry of romantic love.....Jacob's behavior was that of an addict. There are many ways romantic love can function as a kind of drug to h elp us escape the reality of our lives.....Our fears ad inner barrenness make love a narcotic, a way to medicate ourselves and addicts always make foolish, destructive choices.
Rachel had become Jacob's "savior." He wanted and needed her so profoundly that he heard and saw only the things he wanted to hear and see....That is why he became vulnerable to Laben deception. Later, Jacob's idolatry of Rachel created decades of misery in his family. He adored and favored Rachel's sons over Leah's, spoiling and embittering the hearts of all his children, and poisoning the family system.
In the end, God made sure that Jacob's romantic interests, wives, children and great wealth never were enough to permanently capture the center of his heart in spite of his (Jacob's) best idol-making efforts. In the end Jacob finally turns to struggle with God Himself and gets His blessing and new meaning in the process.
If you've ever struggled with obsessive love and romance/sex addictions---and who hasn't?--- I strongly urge you to get Keller's book and read and re-read the chapter Love Is Not All You Need. It's filled with wisdom for our troubled relationship times and ways to begin to turn away from making romance and sex into ultimate things rather than just good things in God's time and way.