Some women love only what they can hold in their arms; others, only what they can’t. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966..
Seriously, why is it that we long for that which our hands cannot secure?
Why are the so-called “greatest love stories” of our time those that tell of forbidden love? Our favorites always have the underlying theme of two people who should not be together, frustrating fate. We are obsessed with love that loves in spite of circumstances, love that is off limits, love that is forbidden and untouchable.
Anne Boleyn and King Henry, Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere. Whether fictional or real, their stories fascinate us.
What is our obsession with the unattainable? Why do we long for something we can’t have? It cannot be practical for longevity purposes, or we would all have the fate of Anne Boleyn. Where does it stem from?
Adam and Eve and our sin nature. Adam and Eve had everything their heart could ever desire and more as well as everything they had need of. Only one thing was forbidden to them, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why sacrifice paradise for one forbidden thing? One thing that was completely unnecessary anyway. The allure came because it was forbidden. It was not because they lacked something; it was simply because the Lord said no.
This pursuit and appeal of what we cannot have still lingers in every one of us today. Like Adam and Eve, we pursue what is off limits to us. Even from birth this desire can be seen. Consider the way a child looks at you when you say no and does it anyway. How telling a teenager not to do something seems to propel them to do just that. We long for the forbidden. We chase that which we cannot/should not have.
Have we therefore trained our society that love has to be something forbidden in order for it to stir our hearts? That the only love worth getting is the unattainable? Couldn’t we then argue that by these standards marriage should be ended when the passion and excitement of the chase are gone? No one can be chased forever. There will come a time when all lovers are within the grasp of their pursuer.
Is this then the end of romance and longing? I sure hope not. Marriage, although a journey unlike courtship still contains its mysteries. But we must acknowledge to each other that this journey is no less than the journey before it and determine that marriage will be more of an adventure than the forbidden love that we are taught by culture to desire. There is so much richness in choosing to spend the rest of your days with the same person. It is what God intended for marriage.
We must fight against this desire for the forbidden, this sin nature. As we see the demise of marriage and our culture filled with perversities that come from pursuing those things that are forbidden (including things like porn, drugs, fornication, etc.) We must acknowledge that life is not about the chase of the unattainable, that some things are better undiscovered and that love is much more than the excitement of a chase.
Lastly, this desire can lead unbelievers to reject God, because His love is so freely given and unearned. This goes against everything our society is taught, this goes against our very sin nature. We have learned that everything has a price and nothing can be handed out for free. It even carries into our walk as Christians and leads us into religiosity. We feel we must work for God’s favor, even though it’s clear in His Word that we should not. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Lord, help us to overcome this sin nature. Help us to love others as you would have us love and to give up the pursuit of that which is forbidden to us. Let us deny our sin nature and experience the safety of your love. Help us to not toy with each other’s hearts just to make the chase interesting. Let us accept your love as you freely offer it and make no effort to try to feebly earn it.
True love stories never have endings and they exist long after the novelty has worn off.