Once Upon a Time…
He, a wealthy and charming young man who is always breaking the rules. She, a sweet, intelligent girl who has never fallen in love. They meet at a party and, after exchanging glances and a few words, fall madly in love. From such different worlds, romance seems impossible and both families are opposed, but they decide to be together. Difficulties appear and are overcome with a lot of tears and juggling, until, without saying “good-bye”, she moves to another city with her family. He loses the meaning of life, and she refuses to adapt to the new environment. Time passes and, finally, destiny throws the two together again. They hug, kiss, and are together at last, living happily ever after.
The details may change, but you’ve likely watched or read this type of story at least once by now. This famous Hollywood script is a guaranteed hit on screens and in books, so it has been used extensively in teen novels, movies, shows, and even other genres. The “Once upon a time…” from children’s fairy tales of princes and princesses, rich characters who fall in love with poor ones, helpless maidens saved by gallant gentlemen, or rebels reformed by the love of a beautiful lady, have been popular for centuries and have won the hearts of many.
These are captivating and cute stories that seem so harmless that many people, including Christians, have watched and read them time and time again. And? Is there a problem? In these stories, the couple usually behaves in a way that is contrary to Christian courtship, often including sex without the commitment of marriage. “Oh, but there’s nothing like that in this one. There are many stories where the characters don’t even kiss,” some may say, and it’s true, like in children’s fairy tales. But does Inspiration have anything to say on this subject? Inspired, Ellen White shows how our mind is influenced by such stories when she states that “The charm of that love story is upon the mind, destroying its healthy tone, and making it impossible for you to fix your mind upon the important, solemn truths which concern your eternal interest.”¹
To better understand, we’ll use an analogy credited to Native Americans that says that two wolves live inside us: a good one and a bad one. The good wolf represents the divine nature implanted in us, while the bad wolf is our carnal nature with immoral tendencies. According to the tale, the two fight and the one that wins is the one we feed the most.² How? Through the things we consume and the decisions we make. If we feed on spiritual things, the good wolf develops, but if we fill our minds with earthly and superfluous things, the bad wolf wins the fight. Ellen White explains this relationship clearly by saying that: “The lust of the eye and corrupt passions are aroused by beholding and by reading. The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions. These vile images, seen through defiled imagination, corrupt the morals, and prepare the deluded, infatuated beings, to give loose rein to lustful passions[…]“³
It doesn’t take much to understand that such a state of affairs doesn’t benefit relationships and the individuals within them. Many who tend to feed on such romances, enter the conjugal relationship totally deluded, with unrealistic expectations. Unprepared to face the difficulties of life as a couple, they end up being disappointed and often convincing themselves that they are with ‘the wrong person’ or that they have made the wrong decision regarding marriage. They discover, painfully and belatedly, that reality is nothing like the fantasies they built based on the romances they read/watched.
This situation is part of the enemy’s plan, since, “The readers of such literature become unfitted for the duties lying before them. They live an unreal life, and have no desire to search the Scriptures, to feed upon the heavenly manna. The mind that needs strengthening is enfeebled, and loses its power to study the great truths that relate to the mission and work of Christ—truths that would fortify the mind, awaken the imagination, and kindle a strong, earnest desire to overcome as Christ overcame.”⁴
Dear reader, I don’t know who you are, if you are a teenager, single or committed, dating or married, but regardless of who you are, you may enjoy watching novels and/or reading books relating great romances and don’t really see any harm in that, but can you understand the seriousness of the matter? Do you realize how much your life here can be damaged and, mainly, how much your spiritual victory will be compromised if you persist in this behavior? God is speaking to you, seeking to awaken your conscience, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, help you change this reality. In the beginning, it can be difficult, but we are not helpless. The same God who warns us, also shows us how we can, in a practical way, collaborate with the Holy Spirit and achieve victory. Here’s the ‘recipe’: “Avoid reading and seeing things which will suggest impure thoughts. Cultivate a love for high moral and intellectual themes. Let not the noble powers of the mind become enfeebled and perverted by much reading of even story-books.“⁵
My wish is that you receive strength and wisdom to use your time wisely, and instead of filling your mind with unrealistic romances, you fill your heart with the hope that, very soon, you will enjoy what “God has prepared […] for those who love him [things] that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
Some things you may like to read instead!
Or how about some real life love stories?
¹ WHITE, Ellen G., Message to Young People, p.273.
²Available at: https://voltaaosupremo.com/artigos/artigos/os-dois-lobos-no-coracao/. Accessed on April 20, 2020.
³WHITE, Ellen G., Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 591-592.
4WHITE, Ellen G., Message to Young People, p. 271-212.
5 WHITE, Ellen G. Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, pgs. 591 and 592