Arlemagne’s post on the dangers of sentimentality in relationships

Oh, this is really, really good. And you can’t say he’s pessimistic and cynical about marriage like me – because he is married.

Here’s the post at RuthBlog.


In response to my earlier post about romantic love being more like addiction and quite a lot less like some deep spiritual connection, the comments section noted that my worldview is “sterile.”


But this view of romance is also most likely true.  Having a clear eyed view of the world has many advantages.

But that worldview is liberating.  Think about it.  In the realm of love and marriage, knowing the truth about the nature of romantic love can save a person from the disappointments consequent of unrealistic expectations.  This leads to happiness.  The fantasy realm of romanticism can lead to some very bad consequences.  Heck, don’t take it from me.  Just read Madam Bovary.

Then he cites this article from well-known social critic Theodore Dalrymple.


WE should try hard to think clearly, said the great French scientist, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, for such is the foundation of morality.

Sentimentality is one of the worst enemies of clear thought and therefore of morality.  It is the preference of what we would like to be true over what actually is true, it persuades us that we are more compassionate than we really are. It is a form of make-believe. British public policy in many fields has been riddled with sentimentality for many years with disastrous effects on our society and on our economy. We are now paying a heavy price.

By the way, you can read an entire book by Theodore Dalrymple – it’s all free online.

I try hard to get the people that I care about to rethink their liberal political views – to begin to apply reason and evidence to their entire worldview. When a person relies on emotions to guide their decisions, it can cause tremendous damage, and especially to others – the spouse, the children, etc. Learning about the evils of postmodernism, moral relativism, etc. is also important.

Madame Bovary

On Arlemagne’s advice I’m watching Madame Bovary (1949) right now. It’s about a woman who reads crazy romance novels until she is bored with normal life and has to engage in affairs to find “romance” and “excitement”. It’s even BETTER than Anna Karenina and Great Expectations! I never learned so much about the dangers of selfishness in my entire life! You can read the entire book for free online, if you like. I never really had involved parents or any kind of religious and moral teaching at all, really. But when I read classics of literature like this, I learn a lot. It reminds me why I loved to read the classics so much as a child.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Here’s the greatest scene ever filmed from Cyrano de Bergerac: (this scene is just after Cyrano’s poetry-reciting duel with the impudent Comte de Guiche, and his subsequent fight with 100 armed men at the Porte de Nesle – the object of Cyrano’s affection has agreed to meet with him and he has high hopes that she has finally realized how much he loves her)

That clip is the greatest thing ever written. “It’s instinct that tells the biggest lies”. Indeed. Indeed. Truer words were never spoken.

“Oh, I have done better than that since then”

8 thoughts on “Arlemagne’s post on the dangers of sentimentality in relationships”

  1. This reminds me of discussions I’ve had regarding sex, even sex within a marriage. As much as I consider myself to be an average red-blooded American male, or possibly because of that, I believe I see sex for what is, which is, an act of selfishness.

    This position has gotten me no small amount of ridicule, and even some from people on my side of the religious and political fence. This position was stated in regards to remarks made that sex is “a wonderful gift from God”. I asked for chapter and verse and got none. My response was that there is little in the Bible that speaks of love in the erotic sense and that sex is quite limited to only that which occurs between man and wife. Even then, it is restricted (do not refuse…except for times of prayer).

    To cut to the chase, the romantic aspects of sex are what we project upon it. I reject the insistence of those who say they enjoy doing it for the pleasure of their partner, because it’s so easy to say that when one is deriving pleasure at the same time. I dare them to prove it by doing only that which gives the partner pleasure only—or even to imagine how interested they’d be in the partner’s pleasure if they could NOT receive pleasure themselves.)

    Now, in this case, I’m not saying I’m opposed to romance. I’m simply remarking on the reality, that the act is one of selfishness. And to disregard that reality leads to distorted perceptions about a potential mate, to ignore that which will certainly annoy after the novelty of the relationship wears away. Indeed, for my part, I had come to this position before I even dated my wife, and it really got me to the point of really seeing who see really was very quickly. When I decided to marry, there were few, if any, doubts about her specifically because I didn’t let “romance” get in the way. Now, we’re free to be as romantic as we want because our union was based on reality from the start (at least on my part) and not romance.


  2. Marshall I think you bring up a good point. One thing you may not realize is that our culture has become a porn culture, so much so that what is considered ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ sex really isn’t.

    And without trying to start a war, I feel parts of the church are falling into that catagory, Mark Driscoll’s Peasant Princess series being a prime example. (Sorry Mknz. I like most of your posts but I part ways with you over Big D’s oversexualization of the Song of Solomon and use of it to build his church.)

    Here’s a book that deals with our culture’s warped view of human sexuality.

    This is not a Christian book, but it does deal with issues that Christians should be doing a better job of dealing with.

    Here are some clips from it on a Christian site that the blogger posted because they so speak to her concerning this difficult issue of men and women relating to one another in our off-balanced culture.


  3. As to the main post, I’m pro-romance. I think it sweetens love between men and women and draws us to that which is lovely and good. However, I do not advocate making decisions based on feelings with no reference to common sense and reason.

    Mara, I agree with you regarding the ugliness of the culture of objectification in which we find ourselves and the damage that pornography does. Can you please elaborate on how you perceive Mark Driscoll’s teaching to feed into that? I haven’t read his Peasant Princess material, but I have read Song of Songs and it’s most definitely sexual in nature. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s good for Christians to reclaim God’s creation in sex to the beautiful thing it is meant to be. I can see the value of allegorical interpretations of the book, such as that of Bernard de Clairvaux, seeing as God often draws on the marriage metaphor to describe His relationship with His people. But Clairvaux had to stretch the text quite a bit to do that and a more straightforward interpretation is more true to authorial intent.


  4. Thank you for asking.

    I agree that there are definitly sexual references in the Song of Solomon (SoS). And I don’t want to get in anybody’s way if they are able to use the SoS to help married couples in their sex life. I can totally acknowledge the sexual side and co-exist with those who favor it.

    But Pastor Driscoll cannot co-exist with people who find allegorical encouragment within the pages of SoS.

    I know this because someone challenged me to watch one of the videos in the series.

    Pastor Driscoll started off pretty good before he ever got into the text. He gave marriage advice, most of which, I could not disargree with.

    But in the clip I saw, he actually mocked anyone who would be stupid enough to think there might be something allegorical about it.
    He held up the most off-the-wall example of some sort of allegorical reference and used it as proof positive that all allegorical applications were completely ridiculous and that no one should ever read SoS in an allegorical way.
    This put me off, first. Before he ever got to the text of SoS.

    The second thing that put me off was that, when he finally DID get to the text, near the end of the sermon, he found sexual references under every possible rock and tree, stretching the sexual parts to the point of breaking. And he said, point blank, that he liked to read ‘the good bits’ i.e. the highly sexualized, (both real, accepted by the church, and the ones he that have been read into it, though the sex might not actually be there.) thus making SoS far more sexualized than it is.

    And because he has made it so sexualized, innocent passages that could be used allegorically in reference to Christ and His Bride and the intimacy between them can’t be used that way because Pastor Driscoll has made it all about pawing and groping.
    (Sorry if I’m too explicit. Big D is more explicit than I am.)

    So in this, I feel that Pastor Driscoll has hi-jacked the book and used it to tickle the ears of our porn culture and uses it as proof that God approves of sexual acts that our nation’s Sodomy Laws once forbid.

    I used to be very angry with Big D (in a lobsterous way). Now I just accept the fact that he is the product of our culture, where a former president was serviced by an intern in the oval office during his presidency. It was this former president that brought sex talk and sex acts out into public arena infront of our kids who are now experimenting with different positions and getting throat cancer.


    1. Thanks, Mara. It does sound as if he may have taken it too far. Certainly to be approached with caution.


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