This is a companion post to 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast Review Part One. I recommend reading that post first to give this information better context. In it I respond to a main teaching given by Beth Moore during the simulcast. It was one of six “mighty makers”.
Mighty Maker #1
“The audacity to make an unseen Savior the supreme romance of your life.”
The teaching surrounding this “mighty maker” was a proposal given to us by Mrs. Moore to enter into a supreme romance with Jesus. According to Mrs. Moore, that is what we were created for. The idea of romance with Jesus stuck me as unbiblical right away. I tested it biblically and ended up retaining my first impression. I could have let it go at that point; but I’m the curious type. I wondered if anyone else was teaching this same thing. I opened my browser and started doing some research. This is something I tend to do as a companion to testing teachings biblically. I look for and examine material published both pro and con on whatever the current subject happens to be. It helps me to expand my knowledge of the subject and see how it is affecting the church as a whole. Trends and the big picture interest me and can be very telling. I encourage you to do this as well. We can dobackground checks on our Bible teachers, but we can also do them on teachings.
In this post I will present some of the bigger picture surrounding the teaching of romance with Jesus. This is just a sampling of what’s out there, but it’s a good launching point if you’re interested in looking into it more. I believe it’s important to do that because the idea of romance with Jesus is widespread enough to merit study and is having an effect on individuals and the church. For some of you, this will come as no surprise because you are up on all this. Others may not be, so below I present some of my findings in the hopes of increasing awareness about this important subject.
Correcting a Misunderstanding
Before we go any further, I want to address a misunderstanding that I had about the description of Mrs. Moore’s new book Audacious which I examined in my post Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast. The description speaks about something that had been missing from Mrs. Moore’s vision for women. It says, “Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete.” It goes on to say, “Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose.” After reading that, I concluded that the missing thing was new to her too, but now I don’t think that is the case.
The missing link was revealed during the simulcast when Mrs. Moore connected her teaching about making Jesus the supreme romance of your life with her book. She said, “That is what the book (Audacious) is. It goes totally with the love thing. It is the one thing it is about. Giving your heart to this outrageous love and my own journey to discovering that and how it compelled me and propelled me for 30 solid years.” (parentheses mine) In a promotional trailer for the book Audacious on Lifeway’s website (a connection I didn’t make before) Mrs. Moore says, “The message in this book is something that has been on my heart for many, many years if not decades. It became a turning point for me in my own relationship with Jesus, and it’s something that I think about continually.”
So, the idea of romance with Jesus compelled and propelled her for 30 years and has been on her heart for years; and while according to the description of Audacious this teaching had been missing from Mrs. Moore’s vision for women, apparently she knew about it. She’s just hadn’t shared it with her audience before the book and simulcast, the same thing the description of the book says that women were aching for, Jesus was longing for, and was the path to the life we were born to live. A further indication that this teaching is not new to Mrs. Moore is that she endorsed a book on the topic back in 2002. You’ll find the link below.
The Bigger Picture
In my research I discovered a lot of material that touches on the idea of romance with Jesus and God. There’s so much out there. Every time I pulled a thread, more pieces fell out. I did not expect my research to lead to learning that some women go on dates with Jesus, but it did. I did not expect to find out that it is affecting men’s attendance at church, but I did. I did not expect to see contemplative prayer come up, but it did. I did not expect mystics past and present to come up, but they did.
I have provided links below for your consideration. Please check out as much as you can to see the bigger picture around this teaching. It is my hope that they increase understanding of why Mrs. Moore’s teaching about romance with Jesus is so troubling and what is going on in other quarters of the church. Some of the links go to sources teaching romance with Jesus. Some lead to analysis of the teaching. I am sharing these pages with my usual recommendation to be discerning. I’m not giving a sweeping endorsement of the websites.
Romance love language in Christian music
When I started my research, I began with the topic of Christian songs that sound like love songs. I mentioned in my review that I had been aware of this for years, but I wanted to read up on it again. Benign as it may seem to some, there are Christian songs that have lyrics that speak of a relationship between us and God that could be interpreted as a song between lovers. While I can’t draw a straight line between them and some of the more disturbing aspects of romance with Jesus, they can create an atmosphere in churches and hearts that is conducive to accepting those aspects. That is why I feel it is relevant. The inappropriateness of some of the lyrics is an issue worth studying all on its own, but the effect they can have on both men and women is also an important study. The following articles and video address the issue of romantic love language in Christian songs.
Jesus Just Wants to Give You a Hug? Todd Friel
Worship songs aren’t for the blokes. Matt Redman comments Premier.tv Youtube video
Jesus is Not My Boyfriend Keith Burton
I discovered that there are books already on the market about romance with Jesus. In highlighting them, I am not disparaging any good things in them or doubting the sincerity of the authors. It is done for the purpose of addressing the subject at hand. In them you’ll find some of the same ideas that Mrs. Moore put forth during the simulcast. After the simulcast, I couldn’t help but wonder, if a woman leaves the simulcast completely enraptured with the idea of making Jesus the supreme romance of her life, where will she go? Will she search for books on the topic? Will she find books like the ones below? Where will these books lead her? Will she end up in bed with Jesus or on a date with him? Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.
Some examples of romance with Jesus books
With each book there is a description to help give you an idea of what they are about. I also put a couple of reviews to demonstrate how some people are interpreting the message within them and to show the effect it can have. Even the positive reviews are telling. There are other informative reviews as well, but for the sake of space here, I can only include a few. I think it’s important to mention that both books reference The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge 1997
Book #1) The Wild Romancer: Uncovering the Romance Jesus Longs to Lavish on You by Brenda Cobb Murphy 2008
The following is just part of the description of this book on Amazon. It is enough, however, to reveal some disturbing concepts connected with romance with Jesus.
THE LOVER OF YOUR SOUL DEEPLY DESIRES TO ROMANCE YOU
Once you have fallen in love with Jesus, once you have looked in His eyes and danced in His arms, you no longer care what others think. Once you have laughed together, shared a personal joke, and caught His eye across the room, you are lost to reason. You walk in a cocoon of His love and protection that nothing can enter. Life becomes just you and Him, even in a crowd. I have seen Him, held Him, felt Him, eaten with Him, and laughed with Him, but it is never enough. I attempt to share some of it with you so that I can show you what is possible in Him and how He desires you. Jesus is calling us out of our mundane lives into a living Romance, the Love Story to end all love stories. He is gently wooing us, singing love songs to us, and whispering our name.
Here is a review for this book on Amazon
“For women seeking Jesus” by Karen: “I’ve read Brenda’s book twice. The first time I read it with a thirst for more of Jesus and found that Brenda experiences Jesus in ways I didn’t realize were possible. Her book showed me how to really be with Jesus, see his face and feel his presence. The second time I longed for even more and thought what a great retreat book this would be. Share this book with every woman who longs to know Jesus as friend.”
This is the book that Beth Moore endorsed on the back cover. In her endorsement Mrs. Moore says, “Who could resist falling in love with Jesus? Obviously not Kathy or Dee… or any of the rest of us who read this fabulous book. What a gift!” It is also endorsed by Max Lucado.
From the description of the book on Amazon
Authors Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli introduce readers to the ultimate love relationship of all time: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Using humor, contemporary love songs, real-life stories, and solid Biblical teaching, Dee and Kathy help women discover a life-changing intimacy with Jesus. No matter your age or marital status, you are His bride, the object of His affection. The secret to an abundant life lies not in ten steps, but in developing a deep love relationship with Jesus, abandoning yourself to the greatest romance of your life!
The following two reviews are from Amazon
“Will Always Remember This Book” by Rose: “Before reading this book I never realized how much Jesus really loves each of us, and in a way that we always dreamed of as little girls. Many women are let down by men because they think that men should fit into the knight in shining armor image, but they are human just like us and not perfect. Jesus is perfect and our yearning for the image is due to our yearning for a romantic love with Jesus, not with men. My favorite part of this book was “kisses from the king” which describes that any little thing during the day that just makes you smile or makes you heart happy like a full moon, or a beautiful sunrise.. he is loving you daily.”
“Sadly, the premise of this book is unscriptural” By A Customer: “I am highly suspicious of any reading material that indirectly encourages Christian women to imagine Jesus in bed with them and uses the word “honeymoon” to describe one’s relationship with Christ. I have a number of friends who have bought into this idea. They try to look at Jesus as their “Beloved” because they are single. One of my friends has gone so far as to put on a special “nightie” for God. She said she felt a warm presence enveloping her in bed as she slept.”
Clearly the idea of romance with Jesus can lead to inappropriate, weird, and even scary places.
Two More Books Worth Mentioning
While they don’t speak of romance in the title, there are other books that present a romantic view of the relationship with God.
There is one that has been on the New York Times Bestseller’s List for 60 weeks. It is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I believe this book is relevant to the conversation at hand. The following book reviews address some of the romantic themes in the book.
First Book Review
Romantic Panentheism, a review of One Thousand Gifts by Bob DeWaay This review focuses on two main issues. Both are worth reading, but for our purposes please see the sections “Romanticism” and “A Romantic Encounter with God”.
Here are some small portions for your consideration.
From the section “Romanticism”
“Voskamp is not so concerned about the Enlightenment or other philosophical considerations, but displays Romanticism throughout her book. In fact it could be mistaken for a romance novel with God the desired lover. Here is an example:
I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin (she also eschews personal, possessive pronouns). To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God . . . No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, He woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time. I ache for oneness (Voskamp: 119).”
From the section “A Romantic Encounter with God”
“Voskamp’s romanticism reaches its pinnacle in chapter 11. There she describes a trip to Paris where she has an intimate encounter with God through art and architecture. God “woos” her through this encounter and she falls in love. She writes, “I am falling in love. . . . I’m accompanied by this Voice whispering to me new words, new love—urging me, Respond, respond” (Voskamp: 206). The entire chapter is laced with sensual terminology.”
Interesting note here: Speaking of wooing, during the simulcast, in the context of romance, Mrs. Moore also spoke about Jesus wooing us. The idea is also present in the other three books mentioned above. Similarly, the idea of God or Jesus whispering to the author (or to all Christians in general) apart from the Bible appears in every book mentioned in my post except one.
Second Book Review
One Thousand Gifts by Tim Challies This is a general overview of Ann Voskamp’s book, but please see the section “Sexuality & Ecstasy”. There are themes in this section that reminded me of the physical aspects mentioned about the first two books above. Here is a quote from the review:
“This closing chapter, “The Joy of Intimacy,” is her discovery of God through something akin to sexual intimacy. In a chapter laden with intimate imagery she falls in love with God again, but this time hears him urging to respond. She wants more of him. And then at last she experiences some kind of spiritual climax, some understanding of what it means to fully live, of what it means to be one with Christ, to experience the deepest kind of union. “God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. [C]ouldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin?””
I think it’s inappropriate to sexualize – even spiritually – an exchange between God and us. Not because I’m a prude or skirmish about sex. I feel it’s inappropriate because I see no biblical basis for it.
The other book is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Besides other disturbing issues, this is another New York Timesbestsellers that has romantic notions in it.
Please see the following review. A Review of Sarah Young’s—Jesus Calling by Bob DeWaay
From the section “Romantic Intimacy”
A popular but horribly unbiblical understanding of Christianity portrays Jesus as a romantic lover with which one should strive to find greater intimacy. I identified this issue 17 times in the book (some of these categories overlap). The romantic connection has been around in the church since the Song of Solomon was allegorized into something it is not. I wrote a critique of a rather radical version of this as expressed through the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.4 Young expresses the same idea, only through Jesus’ first person words:
Where can this lead?
When I look at all these songs, books, and teachers promoting romance with Jesus, I wonder how we got here and where we are going. How far can it go? This is an important question. Since this teaching relies on human imagination and experience with romance to shape the relationship with him, where will it lead? We’ve already seen some outcomes in the Amazon reviews above. Here are some others.
Why Jesus Isn’t Your Boyfriend: A Critique of Dating God Christianity Today
Personal experience shared of hearing young women call Jesus their “boyfriend” in college.
God Is My Husband: A Jesus Romance Pastor’s Wife 2020
This article, written by a pastor’s wife, addresses the issue of romance with Jesus. It also includes the video below in which a woman describes her literal date with Jesus. Please take a few minutes to watch at least some of it. I in no way mean to embarrass this woman. I pray for her. I share her public story to demonstrate just how far things can go. Will any of the women who watched the simulcast go this far? I don’t know. For me, it’s bad enough that they may exchange a biblical relationship for one based on or shaped by human experiences with romance. I pray for them too, and Mrs. Moore.
The Romanticizing Jesus movement is turning women into camp followers The End Time
What effect does it have on men?
This is where we can really see how big this issue is. What happens to the church when the focus is taken off the biblical relationship of love with God and shifted to a human one that is steeped in romance? It doesn’t just affect women. It affects men too.
The Feminization of the Church: Why Its Music, Messages and Ministries Are Driving Men Away Holly Pivec via Biola Magazine
Interesting article. Make sure to see the section “Love Songs and Feminine Spirituality”. I can only imagine how the men interviewed would respond to being taught by Mrs. Moore to make Jesus the supreme romance of their lives and that it is what they were created for.
Stop telling me to fall in love with Jesus David Murrow
Contemplative Prayer and the Be Still DVD
There is one more important thing I would like to bring up as part of the bigger picture concerning romance with Jesus. It is contemplative prayer. It’s a big topic, so I’ll be brief. Contemplative prayer is a troubling, unbiblical practice that has been growing in acceptance amongst those who may be unaware or unconcerned about its Roman Catholic mystic heritage. Contemplative prayer is done in part to hear God speak in silence – inside you – and to be transformed through intimate encounters with him. This intimacy is referred to in romantic terms or ideas. That is true for the way it is practiced today and for the way it was practiced in the past. There are many examples of this, some of which lead to mystical or spiritual marriage; but I only have room for one here. I might write about this at a later time.
“Digging a little deeper, there seems to be two overlapping goals to contemplative prayer. The first is to encounter God in an inexplicable way. Ruth Haley Barton, well-known in spiritual formation circles and formerly on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, describes this desire,
There are many terms that seek to capture this dynamic – silent prayer, centering prayer, contemplative prayer, interior prayer, prayer of the heart. Each carries a slightly different nuance, but they all are attempts to capture the same thing: the movement beyond words to an intimacy that requires no words. This intimacy is the kind that lovers know when they give themselves over to the act of lovemaking 
It should be noted that this type of erotic/romantic expression of the believer’s relationship with God is historically common among the mystics.”
Back in 2006 a DVD promoting contemplative prayer was released. There is so much I could say about this troubling production, but I will set that aside for now. Beth Moore appears in this DVD as well as Priscilla Shirer and Max Lucado. The first section of the DVD is called “Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between Man And God”. From what I know about contemplative prayer, I can understand why the producers would choose to use the words Divine Romance.
A Common Thread
The theme of romance with Jesus is clearly widespread. It flows from destination to destination either directly or indirectly. Mrs. Moore gave a message at the simulcast about romance with Jesus, but before that she endorsed a book about the same subject and participated in a DVD about contemplative prayer, which has the element of romance with God as one of its aspects. It’s possible that Mrs. Moore’s concept of romance with Jesus is connected in some way to her beliefs about contemplative prayer. Christian songs with romantic language can lend support to teachings women hear about romance with Jesus. Mrs. Voskamp used romantic and erotic language describing some of her encounters and exchanges with God. She also references mystics and contemplatives in her book. Women who go on dates with Jesus are probably not aware of Teresa of Avila and other mystics who had/have a divine romance with God, but I still see similarities.
A common thread is relating to or experiencing Jesus in a specific way, through the imagination or imagery of romance whether based on human relationships or subjective, mystical ecstasy in the mind. This places a human idea on a pedestal and exchanges something glorious for something dull. Human romance may seem wonderful when it’s between a man and woman, and it is. But should it be our model for relating to God? Last time (and every time) I checked, the Bible doesn’t say, “Women, love Jesus as wives romantically relate to their husbands or as girlfriends romantically relate to their boyfriends.”
A Far Better Way
It is clear that some women are quite comfortable with romance with Jesus. They offer the church as the bride of Christ for support or taking Song of Solomon allegorically for Christ and the church. While I happen to take Song of Solomon more at face value, I also don’t see biblical support for using the idea of human romance as the model for our love relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of everything, even if he is called the church’s bridegroom. (Colossians 1:16-17) Have we forgotten that we are dust? (Psalms 103:14) That all human ideas are marred with sin? (Jeremiah 17:9) Instead, should we not let the word of God inform our love for him; let the Holy Spirit instruct us through it. Is that not enough? Is that not more than enough? Real love with God should not be based on human feelings or subjective experiences connected with romance. It is defined by him according to his nature and works which we come to know and believe through his word. That is why doctrine is so important. Want to have a heart that is fully satisfied in the Lord? Study the Bible. Really study it. Learn the great doctrines of the faith. They are not boring. They are illuminating and inflaming and sustaining.
What are some biblical truths that give us our understanding of our love relationship with God? Here’s just a few. God initiated the love between us. We love because of his love. (1 John 4:19) We know love by the sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 3:16) That makes it real and shapes it, not the human experience of romance. Who God is explains love to us because he is love (1 John 4:8,16), He is the righteous Judge. (2 Timothy 4:8) He is merciful. (Jude 1:21) He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20) He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 17:14) He is so much more. We are his creation, his sheep, his chosen and beloved people. We are not his romantic partner.
Lord willing, I will be posting Part Two of my review of the simulcast sometime in the weeks to come. Thank you for your patience.
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What is contemplative prayer? Gotquestions.org
Centering Prayer Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
The Be Still DVD: An ode to silence Be Still DVD Review at Christian Answers for the New Age
Authors: Sharon Lareau