Is Romance Dead

by Charles Colson

Is Romance Dead

A Valentine's card made in the 19th century-hand painted with birds and flowers, and featuring tender words of love-recently sold at auction for nearly $40,000.

How the language of love has changed. Walk into a shop today, and you'll find cards reading, "Love ya, baby!" and "Be my love slave!" Others are even more charming. "What is the true nature of romance?" asks one card, with the answer inside, "These questions are best pondered naked."

The contents of many others I couldn't repeat on the air. Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder: Have Americans lost the ability to engage in true romance?

It's not just the cards, either. Hike down to the local mall, and you'll see other symbols of modern "romance" in the windows of Victoria's Secret-a row of plastic torsos wearing garter belts, thong underwear, and push-up bras. And upscale department stores aren't any better. They're just as likely to feature the briefest of men's briefs, covered in hearts and big red lips.

You'll find special Valentine's Day offerings at the bookstore: books and magazines featuring-yes, you guessed it- advice on how to have more and better sex.

How romantic can you get?

How did Valentine's Day become little more than a holiday celebrating sex and violence? I believe our culture's loss of courtship rituals has led directly to the loss of romance. The purpose of courtship was to gently woo and win a maiden's heart. But these days, men anticipate sex within a few days of meeting a woman -- or, in some cases, within a few hours.

Where's the incentive to write poetry reflecting the emotional or spiritual side of romance? There is no emotional or spiritual side. How sad that, on Valentine's Day, young lovers think the right thing to do is to give each other, not lacy hearts on cards, but racy underwear.

God's outlook on romance is so much richer. The Bible teaches that couples are to put aside their own selfish desires and focus on the interests of the loved one. Passion can reach its full potential only when it's combined with restraint-that is, within the boundaries of marriage. The Song of Solomon reminds us of how exciting true love can be.

Sadly, that's not the view teenagers witness when they wander into malls and stores on Valentine's Day-stores that equate romance with sex.

Well, thank God, a few young people have rejected that superficial approach and are holding out for the real thing. A young Christian named Joshua Harris has written a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and a sequel called Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. Author Wendy Shalit recently penned a book called A Return to Modesty, about how sexual modesty can help bring about true romance. I highly recommend these books.

A hundred years from now, nobody will be paying $40,000 for a Valentine that says "Be my love slave!" But those who rediscover the lost rituals of courtship will find, as the Bible says in Song of Solomon 1:2, that true love is "better than wine."

"From BreakPoint, Feb. 14, 2001, copyright 2001, reprinted with permission of Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC, 20041-7500, www.christianity.com/breakpoint."