Reading the Psalms: Part 3, Too Romantic?

When I encouraged my class on the Psalms to "stay romantic" as we studied these songs I did get some pushback.

Many people resist attempts to make our love relationship with God "romantic." Much of this criticism is leveled at contemporary praise songs that cast God or Jesus as our romantic partner. These songs are derided as "Jesus is my boyfriend" music.

But let us be very clear. The "Jesus is my boyfriend" stuff didn't start with Hillsong. That notion goes way back to the Christian mystics, female mystics in particular. Julian of Norwich, anyone? Teresa of Avila?

In all this, I'm reminded of this caution offered by James Smith in his book Desiring the Kingdom, a book, along with his book You Are What You Love, about how love, and even romance, has to be placed at the heart of spiritual formation:
I think a philosophical anthropology centered around affectivity, love, or desire might also be an occasion to somewhat reevaluate our criticisms of "mushy" worship choruses that seem to confuse God with our boyfriend. While we might be rightly critical of the self-centered grammar of such choruses, I don't think we should so quickly write off their "romantic" or even "erotic" elements (the Song of Songs comes to mind in this context)...The quasi-rationalism that sneers at such erotic elements in worship is concerned to keep worship "safe" from such threats is the same rationalism that has consistently marginalized the religious experience of women--and women mystics in particular.
And it's not just female mystics. St. Francis was "God's troubadour," a romantic poet who sang love songs to God.

In short, I wonder if our resistance to "staying romantic" isn't because, at some deep level, we know that love means surrendering and losing control.

When we resist "romance" we are keeping love at an emotional distance, more "objective" and therefore safer and controllable.

We keep our love unromantic because we want to stay in control and minimize the risk.

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