Her.meneutics isn't in the habit of encouraging thought experiments, but try this one for a moment.

If you kept a log of all your thoughts and remarks about men in a given day, what types of statements would be listed? Or, put another way: How many words can you think of to describe a man you disrespect? Now how many can you think of to describe a man you esteem?

As soon as I asked myself these questions, I thought of two or three dismissive nouns to which I could reduce a guy who angered or frustrated me. But I struggled for positive counterparts, and the ones I thought of (prince and, um, prince) seemed derived from the world of fairytales and fantasy — words I couldn't really use in any honest way.

Were you much different?

That pattern, I suspect stems from our incomplete knowledge of others. As a consequence, we're constantly filling in the gaps, taking what we know and then adding sin or perfection. So we construe Mr. X based on selfishness, lust, or sloth (cue disgust) or on the wit, sensitivity, and Rogaine that we think will render life together pain-free and easy (cue unrealistic expectations). Worse, our projections for Mr. X aren't even about what kind of man the mythical he is, but the special ways he could please and satisfy us — or is sure to fail in doing so.

This, I think, is why we see such brokenness displayed in the industrial complex of Valentine's Day. It's not about the glorification of self-giving, other-serving love, but the demand for another's love to serve and gratify us.

The Bible offers a different way to think about romantic love in light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And I'd like to suggest that it also offers a different ...

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