a royal love story?

You may or may not have heard the news stories that England’s Prince William, son of Prince Charles and Diana, is engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton.  It’s creating a media frenzy, and their wedding is already predicted to be “the wedding of the century.”

(When I told this to Lyd, she was amazed that there are real princes and princesses in the world, and that they live in real castles.  The lines between real and make-believe are starting to blur for her! 🙂  Anyway…)

I watched a portion of a TV special last night called “William and Kate: A Royal Love Story.”  (Yes, I’m pathetic.  Moving on…)  Near the end of the show, the main interviewer conversed with a knowledgeable-about-royalty British person and asked in a fervent, sincere tone, “Do you believe that William and Kate are truly in love?”  The interviewer, just like the rest of the world, wanted to know if this love story will have a happy ending.  In the interviewer’s mind, being truly in love made the difference between a happy marriage and a marriage doomed for disaster.

I heard that question and thought to myself What a mixed up view of love we have in Western culture.  We view love as a feeling, as a magical experience, and if you’re TRULY in love, then it will last.  It reminds me of the movie “The Princess Bride,” where Wesley’s numerous escapes from imminent death happen on the account that the love he and Buttercup share is “true love.”

But, what really is true love?  What makes love last?

I am attempting to work my way through the book The Theology of the Cross by Prof. Daniel Deutschlander.  It’s a book that’s not meant to be read quickly; it’s a deep, thought-provoking, soul-laying-bare book.  In my reading, I came across this section on what real love is.  We all have heard weddings where one of the Bible readings was from 1 Corinthians 13.  Deutschlander has this to say about that kind of love:

[from page 94, with the author’s italics] Crucial to any correct understanding of 1 Corinthians 13 is a correct understanding of the word love in that chapter.  That is essential as well to any correct understanding of our lives with one another under the cross.  The love of which the apostle speaks in Greek is agape.  That is a love which in its essence, by definition, seeks the good and the best interest of the object, of the one loved.  It is the most commonly used word in the New Testament for the love that God has for us, as well as the love that we should have for one another.  A love that seeks the best interest of the one loved is not merely an emotion or a sentiment.  In fact, such a love does not reside chiefly in the emotions; it resides in the will.  It is a love of choice, not necessarily a love of attraction.  It is a love expressed in action, not merely in sentimental niceties.  Agapao, the verb form of the noun agape, is the verb used for God’s love in John 3:16.  This is how God loved the world: He chose to love the world and then put his love into action by giving his Son for its rescue.  That goes way beyond sentiment! …

Contrast this meaning for love with the way in which the word is so often used in English.  In English we speak of loving a certain kind of food or weather.  That kind of love is shallow and sensual, as fleeting as a meal or a sunny day. … Contrast it as well with the love of the romantic.  He or she gushes and bubbles over with a love that may indeed by very real.  But it is a love that wants something from the loved one to complete itself.  It is not really free.  It is not really unconditional.  In fact, that’s why it’s gushing and bubbling, so that it can, at the very least, get as good as it gives.  There may not be anything wrong with that in honorable relationships.  But the point is, that it is not the meaning of agape. …

This active, totally giving love of God in Christ inspires the love of the Christian.  It makes imitation the goal of the Christian life in the world after he has received the saving benefit of God’s love and Christ’s cross.  St. John sums up the matter beautifully when he declares, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:10,11). {footnote: It is interesting to note that the word that is translated friends in not the usual word from the verb phileo.  It is agapetoi, literally, ones who are loved with [God’s] agape.}  St. Paul speaks the same way when he introduces his masterful summary of the Christian life in Ephesians 5:1,2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Jesus set the pattern for the disciples and for us when at the very threshold of the abyss into which he would so soon plunge, he said and then said it again, “Love each other as I have loved you” (Jn 15: 12, see also v. 17).

So, I wonder if William and Kate will have that kind of love?  Or will they succumb to the pressures of our modern world, meaning that once the “true love” feelings die, they seek out someone else who will make them feel “true love”?  I wish them well, but like most marriages I see today, especially ones that are not rooted in this kind of Christian love, I don’t hold out much hope for them in the long run.

Although I’m sure I will still watch the wedding (with Lyd!) and admire all the pomp and circumstance and beauty.  We all love a good fairy tale, even if, as adults, we know that no one ever lives “happily ever after.”