Romantic love versus family love (Amore vs Storge)

The Western model of romantic love prioritizes the romantic couple – mother and father (or mom and new romantic boyfriend) over the family unit. Family becomes secondary and subordinate to the romantic couple. This is one of the leading causes for why Western families have collapsed,  with romantic love acting as an agent for disintegration.

Ironically, some conservatives feel they can address the decay by adding a few romantic date nights into the marriage and thereby increase the health of the family. This remedy sounds more like drinking poison to remove the very same poison already causing the sickness.

By way of contrast we can see that in traditional cultures the parental couple were subsumed within the family nexus, taking their identity and pride from the family, and serving its needs as their own. Everyone was important: mother, father, children, relatives, and especially grandparents. Today, family is subsumed within the romantic model, if indeed the wider family is considered at all.

This situation was well described by the Twitter/X contributor below who shares his first-hand experience of Chinese and Western cultures:



Another person commented about “the ongoing fallacy of setting up ones familial foundations upon Romantic Love (of the young couple starting a family) versus the classic (now mainly Eastern world view) of having the newly weds become part of the greater familial tapestry, involving extended family.”

The above observations can be summarised by the following graphic contrasting Eastern and Western priorities, which will serve as summary to this article:

Peter Pan Wives Menace To Marriage

Until Peter Pan Syndrome came to be applied exclusively to males, it used to be applied equally to females, as in the article below from the Aberdeen Press and Journal – Friday 04 November 1938. This article describes women who ‘play’ at being helpless in order to garner sympathies and labor from others.

NB. For the sake of accuracy, the female behavior being described here is not strictly that of the Peter Pan archetype (which Jungians refer to as the puer/puella aeternus). The behavior is associated with what the Jungians refer to as the ‘child archetype’ – which is a more helpless presentation than the resourceful youth Peter Pan.

Christian Churches Conflating Romantic Chivalry with Agape

Many Christian Churches have become temples to romantic love, with Frau Minne (the goddess of romantic love) occupying the Holy of Holies. Frau Minne was worshipped in medieval times by poets and singers who celebrated romantic chivalry, a practice which elevated women to a quasi-divine status. This non Christian tradition has gained more than a foothold in modern Church communities, to the extent that traditional Christian teachings are becoming obscured in its wake. The following illustrate some of the phenomena that have resulted:

Church and clergy often champion values of romantic love

Which encourages women to conflate Jesus’ love with romantic chivalry

Following the mold of Sir Lancelot, women have made Jesus into Sir Lovealot.

And pressures men to conflate God’s love with romantic chivalry

We are seeing women go on romantic dates with Jesus.

And a growth in the genre of “Christian” romance novels

Also the rise of Christian wives requesting “dating nights” with husbands


And finally congregations are singing romantic love songs to God, making evangelical Church worship sound like a Justin Bieber concert encouraging people to “fall in love with, have a love affair with, or become passionate or intimate with Jesus,” while characterizing God as a romantic ravisher of our souls.

Romantic chivalry is a love that’s woman-centered, whereas agape is neighbor centered; Love thy neighbour as thyself. The battle between these two different loves is the crux of a problem in the modern Church, because it ultimately confuses and conflates them. To put the problem simply: romantic narcissism is not agape.

Might any of this tell us why intelligent men are leaving the Church, and new men are not coming into it? You be the judge.

‘The Henpecked Male’ by Hendrick de Leeuw (1957)

The following quotes are from the chapter ‘The Henpecked Male,’ in Woman: The Dominant Sex — by Hendrick de Leeuw (1957). In this volume deLeeuw joins the legions of early observers who rate America as the most gynocentric nation on earth, and in all of history, resulting in the proverbial henpecked man – PW

Love in the Song of Songs

In the lead up to Valentine’s Day when Christian (and other) women look forward to receiving romantic love overtures from men. So I thought I would ask AI to clarify what is the nature of love as portrayed in the most famous lovers book in the Bible.

Question: “What is the Hebrew word used for the kind of love portrayed in the Song Of Solomon?”

ANSWER: The primary Hebrew word for love in the context of the Song of Solomon is ‘ahabah’. Although it does not explicitly refer to romantic love or sexual desire, within the context of this love song, it conveys deep affection, longing, and desire.

Even in the Septuagint, which includes a Greek translation of the Song of Songs, the word used is agape, though clearly the term eros is also applicable to the descriptions of longing and desire that take place between the two lovers.

Ahabah, agape and eros described in Songs are examples of reciprocal love, unlike the unidirectional, medieval practice of romantic love which requires sycophantic male love service toward pedestalised women. With these distinctions in mind, we can say that Christians who wish to celebrate romantic love, whether on Valentine’s or any other day, can be justifiably be charged with practicing heretical versions of love.

As a second note of clarification, St. Valentine had nothing to do with the concept of romantic love during his life, nor did romantic love play a part in the early legends that surrounded him. His namesake only later became associated with courtly & romantic love through a fanciful revisionism in the Middle Ages via poets like Chaucer who fabricated a link between the saint and romantic love. That conflation was continued by William Shakespeare, John Donne and many other poets, leading to the popular conception of romantic chivalry we inherit in today’s Valentine’s celebration.

Romantic love (as symbolised in this image) is a heresy that does not match Biblical descriptions of love

Romantic love (as symbolised in this image) is a heresy that does not match Biblical descriptions of love

‘La Querelle Des Femmes’: The Birth of The Feminist Movement

Not long after romantic chivalry was invented and popularised a millennium ago, some medieval authors began to make jokes about the outlandish male sycophancy and pedestalisation of women that the new tradition entailed.  Christine de Pizan (1364-1431), a woman whom French feminists characterise as the “first feminist,” took public offense the attack on romantic chivalry and on female purity, which she considered a degradation of women’s dignity which feminists today would label misogyny.

Christine’s response launched a movement called La querelle des femmes (the quarrel about women’s rights), which continues today under the name ‘feminism.’ The basic theme of the centuries-long quarrel revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women, and thus the querelle des femmes serves as the originating title for the modern feminist movement.

Feminist historian Joan Kelly characterizes this early history of feminism as follows:

We generally think of feminism, and certainly of feminist theory, as taking rise in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most histories of the Anglo-American women’s movement acknowledge feminist “forerunners” in individual figures such as Anne Hutchinson, and in women inspired by the English and French revolutions, but only with the women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls in 1848 do they recognize the beginnings of a continuously developing body of feminist thought.

Histories of French feminism claim a longer past. They tend to identify Christine de Pisan (1364-1430?) as the first to hold modern feminist views and then to survey other early figures who followed her in expressing pro-woman ideas up until the time of the French Revolution…

The early feminists did not use the term “feminist,” of course. If they had applied any name to themselves, it would have been something like defenders or advocates of women, but it is fair to call this long line of prowomen writers that runs from Christine de Pisan to Mary Wollstonecraft by the name we use for their nineteenth- and twentieth-century descendants. Latter-day feminism, for all its additional richness, still incorporates the basic positions the feminists of the querelle were the first to take.1

When we consider the longevity of this movement, along with its aim to increase the power of women through the exploitation of gynocentric chivalry,2 we might be forgiven for believing its time for romantic chivalry and the associated gender wars it has sparked to be finally put to rest.

A short summary:

 

 

References:

[1] Kelly, J. (1982). Early feminist theory and the” querelle des femmes”, 1400-1789. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 8(1), 4-28. See also: Bock, G., & Zimmermann, M. (2002). The European Querelle des femmes. Donavín G., Poster, C. Utz, R.(coords) Medieval Forms of Argument Disputation and Debate, Or: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 127-156.

[2] Wright, P. (2018). Bastardized Chivalry: From Concern for Weakness to Sexual Exploitation. New Male Studies7(2).