If Love Were All

Surveying contemporary pop music, Matthew Linder finds that romantic love and sex “are seen as the harbingers of an ultimate transcendent reality, where the physical reaches the spiritual” and the “key to a meaningful existence.” His theologically-inflected critique:

Seeking transcendence through a romantic relationship (as these pop songs do) is what Pastor Timothy Keller refers to as an apocalyptic romance. This term borrowed from cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker is defined as:

If he no longer had God, how was he to do this [find meaning in life]? One of the first ways that occurred to him… was the ‘romantic solution’: he fixed his urge to cosmic heroism onto another person in the form of a love object. The self-glorification that he needed in his innermost nature he now looked for in the love partner. The love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one’s life.

Contemporary love songs are a reflection of our culture’s search for ultimate meaning, by thrusting the divine upon an imperfect person. A reversal of the perfect divine who thrust upon himself our flesh to be the bread of life, the living water, make us born again and give us eternal life. Transcendence is found in another person but only in the god-man, not in the person we have turned into a god.