By Andrew Stoddard
“That day she was amazed to discover that when he was saying as you wish, what he meant was I love you.” – The Princess Bride
Mere sentimentality is not enough to sustain a marriage, but I’ll tell you what: I’m a firm believer in true love. We’ve been told for years in the Church that real marriages and relationships look nothing like what Hollywood depicts, and I think there is truth in that. But what I think we’ve heard sometimes in between the lines is that true Christian love is emotionless. We’ve been told it’s virtuous, dutiful, and righteous; but I think somewhere along the way we’ve come to overly distrust the emotional aspects of a marriage relationship.
The Princess Bride came out 30 years ago, but if you’ve never seen it, don’t let that be an excuse. It taps into some of the most essential and transcendent themes of the human experience, and it’s witty as all get-out. Plus, I’d be willing to wager you’ve missed at least a joke or two in your lifetime as it’s possibly one of the most quotable movies ever made. Inconceivable!
What the film gets right is the same thing that the Teacher is imploring us to remember in Song of Songs 8:6: the enduring power of love. Solomon proclaims: “love is as strong as death; ardent love is unrelenting as Sheol. Love’s flames are fiery flames—the fiercest of all.” Kind of puts Shakespeare to shame. Yes, this is a poetic statement, but it seems experientially true that love really does surpass the powers of death. I’m sure each of us can think of a friends or family members who have passed through the thin veil into eternity, but we still love them. Objectively speaking, their physical bodies have been overcome by death, but that cannot vanquish our love for them.
The type of love Solomon describes feels like a fire burning in the pit of your stomach. It makes you do crazy, risky, and potentially embarrassing things for the sake of your beloved. The richness of God-given emotion is what drives us to action. We see in the teachings of Jesus that these actions must be tethered to the clear and careful instruction of God’s Word, but I think Song of Songs describes an enviable level of passion and poetic dedication to hold high the power of love.
Song of Songs is a testament that God created love on purpose and that His Spirit animates us with a sense of passion for our brides. God’s love certainly is far more powerful than death. As His Spirit lives and breathes in each of us, we have the opportunity to confront death and proclaim the enduring power of holy love each and every day. We do this by loving those we have, and those we’ve lost, hopeful for the coming, glorious reunion that awaits all those who are in Christ.
Written By Andrew Stoddard
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