As I stand in places like Hallmark and other stores looking at all the cute gifts, decorations, cards, and other things associate with Valentine's Day, I am struck by how romantic love is often portrayed. The little fat cupids going around shooting arrows at people makes it seem almost silly or frivolous. Perhaps that is one of the reasons romantic love is solidly avoided in religious settings and sermons. Yet for those that read the Bible through every year, how often do you come across romantic love in scripture? The Song of Songs is a book devoted entirely to romantic love. Part of scripture is love poetry. The book speaks of the intense romantic love between a couple that appears to begin betrothed and is later married in the book. They refer to each other as "the one whom my soul loves." They speak of being "faint with love." The express the utter admiration and delight they have in each other. They describe the beauty they see in each other. This suggests that romantic love is not worldly. It demonstrates that not only does God approve of romantic love, he encourages it.
Some have had real difficulty with romance being in scripture. Therefore, they interpret it as a metaphor of God's love for or of Christ's love for the church. But regardless of whether you take it figurative or literal, the fact remains that it is very vivid and expressive love poetry that is part of the inspired word of God. In my view, it is best to take it as love poetry. Nothing indicates that it is intended to be understood in any other way.
In fact, throughout scripture, God portrays himself as the greatest husband and lover of all. He often refers to Israel as his bride. Jesus refers to his church as his bride. In fact, part of the consummation of God's plan involves a marriage feast, and the bride is the church (Rev 19:7-9). The fact that God uses betrothal and marriage to describe his love and longing for his people demonstrates that he loves passionately. Passionate love can bring tremendous anger and fury when the one whom your soul loves is unfaithful. We see examples of this throughout scripture, especially in Ezekiel and Hosea. But God is the faithful husband. He does not close the book on the marriage. In Hosea, he anger does not last forever. Afterwards, he "allures" or "woos" back his bride. The entire Bible anticipates the time when Jesus comes to get his bride in Revelation 19. He rides in on a white horse with his robe dipped in blood....his own blood. He gave his life for his unfaithful bride. He went to Hades and back for his bride, and he is coming back to get her and take her home.
Love does not belong to Hallmark, Hollywood, or any other thing of this world. Do not go to them for advice or instruction on love. All love, even romantic love, is of God. Christians are not joyless prudes that know nothing about love. They are full of passion and life that comes from a God that is full of life.