Casting Down the Idol of Romance

I’ve always been in love with love.

Growing up, I was that annoying friend who was always asking who you liked and never taking “no one” for an answer. I just couldn’t believe my middle school friends and their contented singleness was real. Personally, I couldn’t recall a time when I hadn’t liked a boy.

As I grew older, the more my hunger for romance began to resemble an addiction. I’d swallow a romance novel in a single sitting, skimming over all of the non-romantic parts of the book. I’d replay every interaction with a crush in my mind a thousand times, analyzing for any signs he returned my feelings.

For a long time, I denied that there was anything wrong with my boy-crazy habits. I wasn’t acting upon my feelings, so what was the problem?

From Death to Life

But there was a problem. I was a slave to romance, letting the whims of my heart rule me. I felt the weight of Jesus’s words in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

I knew Christ loved me beyond my wildest dreams, and I claimed to believe his death covered my sins. Yet there I was sitting in the empty tomb, clinging sentimentally to my idols and believing their promises sounded better than God’s.

If I’d heard Paul’s words, I didn’t listen to them: “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21, NIV)

Jesus wouldn’t leave me in the grave. He led me out of death and into life — a life abundant (John 10:10), a life where I truly knew God (John 17:3) and treasured him above all else.

The temptation didn’t disappear, but through the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, reading Paula (Hendricks) Martseller’s book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, and painful self-discipline, I gradually began to have victory over my idolatrous impulses.

A Painful Resurgence

When I began to wholeheartedly worship Christ instead of romance, I felt a freedom that delivered joy to the depths of my soul. But the battle was far from over.

My prior boy-craziness shaped me more deeply than I realized. When I began dating my husband, its painful effects quickly became clear.

First, when I missed my boyfriend, I struggled not to seek emotional refuge in romance novels and movies. It also influenced my expectations of him — I knew he would sin and make mistakes, but somehow, I still expected him to be a perfect leader, which of course he wasn’t.

The biggest issue, however, was that I had formed a habit of viewing every male I met as a potential boyfriend. I thought this habit would disappear naturally when I had an actual boyfriend, but it didn’t.

Six months into our long-distance relationship, I started flirting and having feelings for a co-worker. When I realized the seriousness of the sin I was committing — allowing unfaithfulness to grow in my heart — I confessed it to my boyfriend, and I expected he would break up with me.

By the grace of God, he demonstrated radical forgiveness toward me, and we continued our relationship. Today, we have a grace-filled marriage, and it is a beautiful gift in spite of our brokenness.

However, the healing process wasn’t easy. I had broken his trust deeply, and he struggled with jealousy for a long time after that. I realized I needed to seek out more accountability from other women, and I had to take a step back from several troublesome friendships with other guys.

As much as God uses this experience to remind me and others of the gospel, I regret those actions more than anything I’ve ever done.

The Danger of Disney Endings

That’s why I want to plead with you: forsake the allure of romance and respond to the call of Christ. Subscribing to the happily ever after narrative of Disney romances costs more than $6.99 per month.

My story of unfaithfulness awakened me to the risks of idolizing romance. But the real danger is unfaithfulness to Christ.

God is love (1 John 4:8), and His sacrifice for you is the most powerful love story. Why seek love anywhere else?

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