“Do you remember?” I said in a very quiet voice. “The first time you saw her? The first time you looked at you? Do you remember that change? That shift, when the whole universe suddenly tilted? Do you remember looking at her and knowing that you would never, ever be quite the same person?”
— Harry Dresden, in Jim Butcher’s Skin Game
I’m here once more to speak heresy.
My first child entered the world a few days ago.
The experience, for me, was quite interesting. I looked at her, and it felt exactly like falling in love, without the sexual component.
No wonder people think of parental love, and especially mother love, as something pure. Something divine.
Our culture worships sex. Our culture worships falling in love. We use it to justify both sex and marriage, rather than using marriage to justify sex and falling in love, as the Bible instructs us.
That this experience might exist without sexual desire feels sacred. Holy.
And yet, I’ve fallen in love with every woman I’ve dated and more besides. My actions towards them were entirely selfish. And my desires with regard to how I shall act toward my daughter are largely selfish as well. I will die, I will kill myself for her. But it is for what I get out of it that I make these statements.
The flush of being in love with all those women is long gone. The ‘pure’ love I hold for my daughter may fade too. People kill their children all the time. The shock that some moderns feel at this proves their idolatry. They believe their god is unstoppable, despite the evidence before their lying eyes.
Frankly, it’s mostly oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine.
Nothing wrong with that. And just because something is physical doesn’t mean it has no spiritual component. Marriage, Paul tells is, is a symbol of Christ and the church. Christ and the church, Christ tells us, are to be one as he and the Father are one. Therefore, it stands to reason (though one should not state it dogmatically) that marriage is a symbol of the unity of the Father and the Son, and childbirth is a symbol of the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. But this, while it makes good sense, is only speculation.
Point is, marriage is a bond made by God through a physical action. That bond exists despite any emotions that may arise or fade away. My bond with my child is also of God, and exists despite any emotions that may arise or fade away.
The emotions are built in. They are a tool given by God to ease the bond. They are a wonderful thing.
And the moment you put them on a pedestal, they become a dark god that would steal your salvation.
The divine bond is not in what you feel. It is in what is.