Dear aspiring young “Christian Greys,”
I’ll be honest, this latest trend has left me bewildered, heartbroken, and very afraid for you. I’m afraid because the things that have hurt and broken you, leaving you less than you were ever meant to be, are now being applauded, encouraged, and dressed up as love. I’m afraid because the road you are on is a dangerous one, and it’s not going to end the way you hope.
I’m sorry that life has been unkind to you. I’m sorry that you’ve been encouraged to settle for money when you needed so much more. I’m sorry that pain has twisted your idea of love until all you have left is a distorted reflection in a broken mirror.
And I feel I must tell you something else. I have two daughters and you are not what I want for them. No matter how beautiful and charming you think you are, as a boyfriend you will not be welcome in our home. You see, we believe that love is about putting someone else first, even when it’s difficult. We believe that hurting people to make yourself feel good is cowardly and weak. We believe that abuse and violence of any kind are wrong. It’s not romantic, it’s not attractive, and it certainly isn’t love.
I can’t tell you how to live your life. You have every right to make your own choices. However, I do have the right to choose the kind of love I will pursue and I am praying my daughters will have the courage to do the same. I am praying they will find someone who is man enough to love them when they make mistakes and admit it when he makes them too. I’m praying that the man lucky enough to win their hearts will realize that their bodies will not always look the way they do in their twenties and that he’ll be ok with that because he knows love is so much more than physical attraction.
I’m praying they will have the privilege of experiencing love that has grown in the furnace of heartache and laughter and forgiveness and time. Most of all, I’m praying that, despite all the images they are bombarded with, they will choose to listen to the voice of a God who loves them utterly and wants to give them a relationship that is a small reflection of that infinite, sacrificial, “always and forever” love.
I realize that what I’m saying to you will probably not be well received. You’ll think I’m a prude or a religious fanatic with no grip on reality. The truth is, I don’t really care about that. This morning I looked at my two beautiful girls, so full of hope and expectation, and I realized that, for their sake, I had to take a stand for love. And so, this Valentines Day, I am taking the opportunity to tell you that I totally and unashamedly reject your definition of love.
Heidi Johnston is the author of Life in the Big Story and Choosing Love in a Broken World. She studied law at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and now lives back home in Northern Ireland with her husband and two daughters. Heidi is passionate about getting people to engage with the Bible for themselves and has a fascination with the book of Deuteronomy.