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Love Seeks Union

The following is an excerpt from A Theology of Desire.

Set me as a seal upon thy heart,

As a seal upon thine arm:

For love is strong as death;

Jealousy is cruel as Sheol;

The flashes thereof are flashes of fire,

A very flame of Jehovah.

Many waters cannot quench love,

Neither can floods drown it.

(Song of Songs 8:6, 7 ASV)

Sometimes love rages like a fire. This is especially true for romantic love, which is characterized by an intense desire for union with the beloved. That kind of yawning need is a search for completion, for wholeness, and is a reflection and continuation of our need for union with God.

Years ago I felt an ardent attraction to someone which would never be consummated. I thought yearning for another human that intensely was a bad thing, because I recognized that at least part of it was my misdirected hunger for the divine. But as I thought further I realized I was wrong about it being bad. God gives us a desire for completion with and through other humans because each of us is a reflection of God, and a carrier of God. When we become one with another in a healthy, mutually giving way, we are in fact a more complete reflection of God’s fullness, though still incomplete.

In romantic love, the two become one as we will eventually become one with God. Our feelings of romantic love and longing are dim views of what is to come. Even when those feelings are directed at someone with whom we will never connect.

We now see as through a glass darkly. Just imagine what it will be like when the veil is removed, and we see face to face.

We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

C.S. Lewis

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