Agnieszka Tennant’s “Dating Jesus: When ‘Lover of My Soul’ Language Goes Too Far” is one of the creepiest things I have read in a long time. She reflects on an “eros-laced” trend of female spirituality that is being pushed by Christian publishers and that has been embraced by not a few women in evangelical churches. She writes,
In a popular book, I learn of women who set up date nights with Jesus. Christie enjoys her Friday nights by going to Barnes & Noble “to drink coffee with the Lord and to read whatever book from the Christian living section he guides me to” or by cooking a wonderful meal and setting the table for two, then “talking to God as if he is actually sitting there at my table with me, because I know that he is.”
The author of this book calls women to “prayer, praise, and pampering” retreats: “Although God certainly loves us even with unshaven legs, no makeup, and a bed-head hairdo, he also deserves to occasionally have his princess sit at his feet while she is looking and feeling her best.” She casts these retreats as exciting dates. “You are running away with your Lover, not confining yourself to a convent.”
In another book, the author assures her readers that “you are the one that overwhelms his heart with just ‘one glance of your eyes,'” quoting from the Song of Solomon. “His gaze is fixed on you,” she writes. “He is captivated by your beauty.”
These teachings have spread into churches. My friend’s mother took part in a “tea with the Lord,” during which she and the other women wore their wedding gownsâ€”those, at least, who managed to squeeze into themâ€”and fancied themselves as brides of Christ. An influential Kansas City church teaches thousands of people the so-called Bridal Paradigm, which encourages a quasi-romantic relationship with Christ. And who among us hasn’t detected an eerie resemblance between a contemporary Christian song and a pop diva’s breathy rendition of a sensual love ballad?
I think Tennant’s conclusion is apt:
I have little patience for taking biblical metaphors too far and giving one’s relationship with God an air of irreverent chumminess. Somehow, the scenario in which “his princess” shaves her legs for a date with Jesus seems to leave little room for fear of God.