Okay - I know this may be pushing the edge just a bit on anything related to science; but when has that ever stopped me before? I’ll put this out here as what’s been on my mind lately about love.
I recently was thinking of Michael Bolton’s song “When a Man Loves a Woman” and the thought strongly came to me that this very song makes for an excellent meditation about God. In fact, let me be so brazen as to suggest that if you haven’t personally felt/understood the passions expressed in that song, then you will not “get” either testament of the Bible.
And let me further add that, that in saying so, I’m not endorsing every thought in that song as being “gospel”. In fact, I think the song gets one of its central tenets understandably and spectacularly wrong: “that love is blind”. “She can do no wrong …” or “If she’s bad, he’s the very last one to know…”. So how can I insist something is wrong and yet gospel? Pretty easily, as it turns out - for those who have felt those passions before. In fact it is those very wrong statements that so powerfully embed the gospel being spoken of - so I’m not saying that the rest of the song minus a few excised, incorrect assertions is gospel genius. No - I’m saying that the entire song - especially with those passions intact are what make for understanding here.
Their wrongness does not undo their insight. To correct them would be to reflect on how it is only true love that actually has the deep sight of everything - flaws and all, and yet persists anyway (she can do no wrong). It is the jaded cynics who are blind. The cynically dismissive eye that declares “yeah - I’ve seen that before, and we all know what that’s really about…” is the blind one that must await some glimmer of reawakened love before it can begin to see again. It is love that has the deepest sight. Nobody knows the beloved, and all her flaws, like the lover. And nobody can hate any damaging or deeply serious flaws with as much “perfect hatred” and the lover. It is because of his love that he can most perfectly hate anything that will eventually cause distress for his beloved or that will mar, or (God forbid!) end their relationship with each other. He will spend his very last dime to not let that happen. We shrug off the faults of strangers easily enough … we have no relationship with them. But with our beloved … it’s quite a different story. Her happiness is his happiness. And he want his happiness to be hers also … in a mutuality of delight. Because what else would anybody ultimately want from an enduring relationship?
Nobody knows those faults with the same intimacy as a lover. And yet, despite the consternation and advice of friends and advisers, that love remains intact - even frustratingly “blind” to the more detached bystanders and would-be advisers. I’m beginning to understand why so many contemplatives in history saw such centrality of insight in the Song of Solomon.
The wounded lover is the theme to follow, I think, that opens up the prophetic voices of both testaments to so much insight.