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I Could Sing of Your Love Forever. Jennell Williams Paris. c. 2009 B. Walrath/ R. Woods All rights reserved. Used by permission. The American Ideal of Love.

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I Could Sing of Your Love Forever

Jennell Williams Paris

c. 2009 B. Walrath/ R. Woods All rights reserved. Used by permission.


The American Ideal of Love

  • Christians (even well- informed by scripture) use the language and symbols of their culture. In American culture that often means looking to romance when speaking of love.
  • Romantic Ideal- comes from the medieval courtly tradition and is present in today’s romance novels, movies, and our imaginations.
    • Includes passion, magical, “falling in love.”
    • Romantic Love separates two lovers from the rest of the world

The American Ideal of Love, Cont.

  • Prosaic Realist view of love- often confused and ambivalent, growing/dissipating over time.
    • Philosophy that love should be between lovers who are compatible in practical ways.
    • This love requires hard work, compromise, and sacrifice all the time.

Biblical perspective

  • The Bible speaks of God in many ways other than in a romantic way.
  • Erotic love (eros) was certainly present in biblical times, but not in the same as in American culture.
    • Ex: “I Am,” Lord, King, metaphorically through animals, family terms, etc..

God as Leading Man

  • God takes the role of Leading Man- the assertive pursuer, the initiator of emotional intimacy who takes risks to win the heart of His Beloved.
  • Sometimes in culture this means making Jesus into our “boyfriend”- a strong benevolent, wooing man.

Humans as Leading Lady

As humans, we take the

stance of ‘leading lady.’

“Humans rarely initiate

action or do anything


The Leading Lady

complements the Leading

Man by being weak,

passive, and in distress.

In worship music we have

a stance of longing and



Humans as Leading Lady, Cont..

Humans ask for things to

be done for them and

speak of how wretched

and pitiable they are.

While a stance of humility is essential in worship, these songs overemphasize the worthlessness of humans, which may limit worshipers from becoming agents of change in the world.


More to God’s Love than Personal Fulfillment

  • Many worship songs encourage people to view God in terms of His ability to deliver and experience of emotional fulfillment.
  • “God’s activities include more than personal salvation and interpersonal intimacy.” (p48)
  • “God’s Love should help free believers to express His love in the world by living rightly with others and with creation.” (p50)
  • Romantic love separates individuals from society, because they need nothing but each other, and don’t connect them with others outside of them. God desires us to reach out to others, not just have an intimate relationship with Him.
  • Songs need to empower us to live through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • We need to realize we are at war, not just in love.


  • Our Relationship with God is more than just a romantic relationship between just Him and Us.
  • There is a call for songwriters to write songs that are about what God is doing in the world, not only in our own hearts.

How Can We Change this?

  • Increase reliance on Scripture in song lyrics.
    • Broaden the use of God’s name- “God,” “Lord,” “King,” “You”..
    • In this way, worshipers will be more faithful to Scriptural attributes of God
  • Broaden the language of love beyond the romantic.
    • Use the other forms of love in worship
    • Eros (erotic love), storge (family/maternal love), Agape (altruistic love), Pragma (pragmatic love),
  • Expand the role of humans beyond passivity, weakness, and sinfulness.
    • Humans are a part of a divine-human relationship doing important works of creativity, justice, and mercy.