The Following Message Has Been Transcribed For
Clarity, Continuity Of Thought, And Punctuation By
The LEM Transcribing & Editing Team.
A Desire For Romance
Anna Karenina was a young woman of the Russian aristocracy. Back then, marriages were arranged by the parents. She was a countess married to a very wealthy count (everyone in the aristocracy was wealthy). She was a beautiful, sensitive young woman with a desire for romance, but the man she was married to was very stern. However, he loved her very much. He provided a home for her, and took care of her material and social needs. He was a very proper, straight man, and the reputation of his name was very important to him. He was hard, unyielding, and self-righteous, but he was doing his best to lead a moral life. He worked long hours and was away from home a lot, which is not unlike many marriages today. He really did care for Anna, but he had trouble expressing his emotions. There was virtually no romantic love in their marriage.
They lived in a palace with many servants, and their son was educated by a personal tutor. Anna did not do any physical labor, and she had everything that she needed in life. Her little boy loved her more than anything, and she loved him desperately, but what was missing was romantic love from her husband. However, she did have a form of love in her life. Her son was crazy about her, and she had a very active social life.
One thing about human nature that never ceases to amaze me, is that it seems to be so hard for many people to praise the good things in their lives and diminish the bad. It seems to be so hard for a woman (in a situation similar to Anna's) to say, My husband is a little on the cold side, and he is a little pompous, but I know that he would protect me with his life, and that I am very important to him. The fact that I am his wife is very important to him, and our son is very important to him, and he has provided all these wonderful things: education, and a good future for our son, and a lovely home to live and entertain in. But he is not romantic, so let me serve God. Let me find something to satisfy me emotionally. Let me love my son and find something that will make up for the deficiency.
No Lifestyle Is Perfect
If one thing is as sure as the rising and the setting of the sun, nothing is perfect in this world. No lifestyle can satisfy all of our human needs, outside of marriage to Jesus Christ. Few people are able to praise the good in their lives and diminish the bad, and be happy with what they have. Some people attempt to accomplish this by denying their true feelings, while others have a problem controlling their emotions.
God’s answer to this human dilemma is to face the truth. We need to recognize that our emotional needs are not being satisfied by our mate and seek God for the ability to consciously sublimate our needs into a constructive direction. Such a course of action is a conscious, mature decision to face the realities of our life, and deal with them in a positive manner. Denying the reality of our situation is the repression of our true emotions. When we do this, it goes underground, and causes problems for us and our loved ones.
While Anna was visiting her relatives in Moscow, she met a dashing young officer who was in the Russian army. (If you were a man in the Russian aristocracy back then, there were two choices available to you: either you had a career in government, or you were an officer in the army.) This young officer was single and had nothing to lose by pursuing a relationship with a married woman. There was a young woman who was madly in love him, and wanted to marry him, but he fell in love with Anna.
The brash young officer was selfish, and did not care about morality. Rules meant nothing to him; he did not care that she was married, and that she had a child. He threw all moral constraints to the wind, and pursued her with a passion. Anna tried to resist. She told him that it was wrong, and asked him to leave, but he was so bold that he followed her back to St. Petersburg. When Anna’s husband met her at the train station, the young officer walked right up to him, introduced himself, and asked for his permission to call for her at their home.
I have observed men pursuing after women like this, doing whatever it takes to accomplish their goal. In this case, the young officer really loved Anna, but in most cases, shortly after a man illegitimately pursues a woman, and succeeds in getting the woman to respond to him, even going so far as giving up everything for him, he is no longer satisfied, and moves on to the next woman. If you do not follow God's rules, you are flirting with disaster.
Loyalty Vs. Romantic Love
The young man followed Anna to St. Petersburg. She resisted him on every turn, but he continued to make an open play for her. She soon became the talk of Russian society. A woman came to Anna's husband to make known to him what was going on, and he went to Anna, and said, My dear, I am not accusing you of anything, but I am warning you that they are gossiping about you. Her own husband defended her and was loyal to her.
What is it about women that make them desire romantic love? How about looking for loyalty in a man? Anna’s own husband defended her against the gossip and went back and warned her. He was more than fair. He waited, he watched, and he hoped. He even spoke to her about the situation. He did not rebuke her or revile her. He was afraid that he was going to lose her. He was capable of loyalty, faithfulness, and providing a solid, stable home life for her and their child, but he was incapable of giving her romantic love.
Weakness Of The Flesh
Anna was not capable of evaluating her situation properly and drawing the godly conclusion that she must remain married to her husband if she was to avoid disaster for the entire family, mostly for her son and herself. She could have approached the situation in one of two ways. If she had the kind of wisdom that we are learning here, she could have said to the young officer, I perceive that you have nothing to lose, but I have everything to lose; my child, my husband, and my social position. But she did not say this, neither did she have the strength to say, The law of God calls this adultery, and therefore I refuse you, despite what I am feeling.
Back then, if you left your husband and lived in adultery, you were ostracized by society. It was not like it is today in America, where pretty much anything goes. Today, at the very least, if you have such a lifestyle, you can move to another area of the country where nobody knows you, and live a normal life.
Anna was a very nice woman. Everybody loved her. Her servant's testimony was, I have worked in this house for nine years, and there has never been a harsh word from her. Her son adored her. She was one of the loveliest women you could hope to meet; kind, generous, and sensitive, but she fell prey to the weakness of the flesh.
The young officer had no mercy for Anna, because she was what he desired. He pressured her until she rejected her moral upbringing, yielded to her emotions, and became involved with him. They started having an affair, but that was not enough for him; he wanted her to leave her husband. He literally had the nerve to enter Anna’s house, demanding that she choose between him and her husband. He wanted her to break up her home, leave her husband, and abandon her son, knowing that it would break the little boy's heart. The young officer was even angry with her when she hesitated. It was the epitome of selfishness, for someone who had no children, who had never experienced marriage, and who had no idea what he was asking her to give up, to demand that she choose.
The Tyranny Of The Weak
The spiritual principle in the message More About Soul Ties (LEM Message #67) was that if you yield to the tyranny of the weak, you lose whatever strength you previously had. Anyone who is living outside of God's Law, or manifesting in their carnal emotions, is considered weak. The natural man is weak from the point of view of morality. The young officer tyrannized and pressured Anna until the strength of her spiritual upbringing broke. His seduction was complete. Anna was overcome to the point that she would even give up her beloved son.
Anna went to her husband and told him that she wanted to leave him. He told her that he was a public figure who had been preaching against divorce for years, and he believed in the sanctity of marriage. He was a hard, harsh man, and he told her that if she left, she would lose all rights to her son, including being able to see him. She would have to give up everything. This lovely woman, who was admired by everybody, yielded to her emotions and to the pressure of an ungodly man. Her religious upbringing, with the added pressure of this incredibly selfish, brash young man, was not strong enough to help her overcome her own weakness.
Before this young man came into Anna’s life, she was dealing adequately with her situation. She was married to a very cold man, but God gave her an outlet for love. She loved her son very much, and her life was not that terrible. She was enduring it, but the pressure came, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Even though she resisted the young officer, he would not leave her alone. He pursued after her, and hounded her, and she broke. Her moral conviction was not enough. In the end, she left her husband and her son, and ran away with this man who had no respect for the laws of God or society. And he had no respect for Anna, nor did he truly love her, according to the pure definition of love, which means not doing harm to the object of our love.
Anna’s husband refused to give her a divorce, so she remained an adulteress for the rest of her short life. In Russian society, it was shameful to be an adulteress. The young officer, who was a soldier, had to leave his regiment, and the two of them could not be seen in public together. It is a similar situation to the one we studied in More About Soul Ties, where the wife of the psychiatrist pressures him to abandon his profession.
A Life With Purpose
Since the young officer had to give up his career to live with Anna, who was in adultery, the couple decided to travel through Europe. People were not made to spend their whole lives traveling. Perhaps, if you have been working all your life, and you are retired, you might think, What a wonderful thing it would be to travel through Europe for the rest of my life, but that young officer was not made to travel for the rest of his life. Our lives must have a purpose. We must have something to do that gives us satisfaction. It could be an intellectual pursuit. It could be raising children. It could be serving God. We must be doing something that makes us feel worthwhile as human beings.
Anna and the young officer yielded to romantic love outside the parameters ordained by God, and they eventually became very discontent. Anna longed desperately for her son. (She was devastated when she found out that her husband told her son that she was dead.) The officer missed his regiment and his friends. He missed the prestige, the excitement and the social aspect of military life. You cannot live on love alone. Men need their jobs. Women, if they want to raise a family, need their children. If you want to be a career woman, you need your profession. We are a pluralistic people with many needs, and all of those needs must be met for us to be reasonably happy. If you choose romantic love over the opportunity to satisfy those needs in a godly way, that romantic love will eventually sour.
Anna and the young officer lived in a big, fancy house and had enough money to live on, but the officer soon became restless, and Anna became unhappy. They started bickering and got on each other's nerves. Being unable to face Anna, the young officer made plans to return to his regiment, and went off to war behind her back. He loved Anna, but loving her, without the other things that were important in his life, was not enough to keep him happy as a human being. He needed his profession, his friends, and his life as a Russian nobleman. Anna needed her son, respectability, and a social life. Consequently, their romantic love crumbled and disintegrated around their feet.
One night, Anna told the young officer that she had taken a box at the opera, which was totally unacceptable in Russian society, but the couple went anyway. Everybody whispered and talked about them, and Anna was deliberately insulted by the wife of the couple in the box next to theirs. The young officer could have lost his life defending Anna, but the husband apologized. She was a fun-loving woman, and her night at the opera was ruined. Having a good time was a very important part of her life. It was a part of her life that she sacrificed to live on the outskirts of society with a man who was destined to leave her completely alone.
The young officer returned to his military career, which helped him in a positive way, but even if it were possible for Anna to return to her husband, it would have been emotionally devastating. You cannot give up everything for romantic love, because it will fly away like a bird, and most likely, you will be left with nothing.
As the movie comes to a climax, Anna goes to visit her brother and his family. Her brother was a promiscuously cheating husband. Her sister-in-law thought about leaving him, but made the decision to stay. Anna sees her sister-in-law, with her three beautiful children, living in a happy, bubbling household, filled with all the activity you would find in family life. Her sister-in-law says to her, I envy you so. You had the guts to leave your husband to go after romantic love, and look at me, I am trapped in this house. As she hears this, Anna's heart is breaking because her lover had just gone off to war.
Her sister-in-law had not succeeded in finding romantic love, but she had a house, three beautiful children, and a husband (even though he was a cheating husband). I am not saying that this is ideal at all. My point is that Anna’s sister-in-law had a family life and a social life. Compared to what Anna gave up for romantic love, the sister-in-law was a hundred times richer, but she did not know it. She thought that what Anna did was wonderful, and that her whole life was ruined because she did not have the guts to do the same thing. She was not happy with what life had given her, even though she had three healthy children, a house that could accommodate visiting relatives, and a social life. Instead, she was unhappy, and envying Anna, who had rejected a godly lifestyle to follow a wanderlust, which eventually destroyed her entire life.
Divorce Is Not The Answer
If you get married, and romantic love blooms in your marriage, you are blessed, but in this society, when the romance starts waning, it is so easy to think about getting a divorce. Breaking up a marriage because romance is gone is a big mistake. Do not do it; you will destroy yourself and your children.
There are certain circumstances under which a divorce is permissible, and sometimes even right, such as in the case of incest. This country is inundated with men who are abusing their children. If that is your case, you pick up your kids and get a divorce. On the other hand, if you are lonely because your husband works long hours to support you, and you have a beautiful house and children, but the romance is gone, that is not a legitimate reason to get a divorce. If you have heard that message going around, you have heard a lie. If you believe it, it is a deception that will destroy you. You cannot hold on to romantic love. It is like a butterfly. Enjoy it for as long as you have it, but there are other things that will endure much longer: decency, honor, respectability, commitment to your children, to your home, to your family, and to a man who might be showing his love to you through loyalty and faithfulness. You can always pray to the Lord to renew the romance in your marriage. You never know what God is going to do, but you do not throw away a man or a family life because of a lack of romantic love. As far as the cheating husband goes, that can be a real problem, which we are not addressing at this time.
A Tragic Ending
To finish the story, Anna goes to the train station to see her lover one more time before he goes off to war. As she approaches the train, the military bands are playing, and there is an excitement of men going off to war. She looks over and sees her lover, who is as happy as could be. He really wanted to go. He was lapping up the excitement of the moment, and the adoration of all the people waving at him, and the band playing. In addition to all this, the officer's mother was there with a young woman that she wanted him to marry, and he was flirting with the young woman. Anna's heart was breaking, but she backed off, and did not let him see her.
Anna gave up everything for romantic love. She gave up all rights to her son. She was forbidden to go into the house, so would not see her son again, at least until he became a man. She lost her honor and her respectability, and it was possible that she would not have had enough money to live on after the young officer was gone. She painfully watched her lover ride off to war, amidst the music, the waves, and the adoring looks of other women, to pursue a life without her. As the train pulls out, Anna is so depressed that she throws herself under the train and dies. This intensely selfish, immature, inexperienced young man seduced a woman who was obviously ill-equipped to resist him, and he completely destroyed her.
Returning To A Sacrificial Lifestyle
We must guard against the seducer. Today, in our country, the men are also being seduced. I will say the same thing to the men as I tell the women, If you think that your wife is not romantic enough, or you are not thrilled with your sex life, those are not reasons to get a divorce. If your wife is faithful to you, and honest, and raising your children in a godly manner, you are supposed to stick it out and fight. Pray to the Lord to enhance your marriage in the areas where you believe the relationship to be deficient, but do not go breaking up a marriage for some silly little wanderlust like romantic love.
To do such a thing is a sign of spiritual weakness, and we must resist all spiritual weakness in our fallen soul, because the Deceiver is manifesting in great power in this nation. He is out to destroy the family, the institution that God ordained, and he is out to destroy the nation. Let us get our values straight and return to a sacrificial lifestyle. Work to build the family. Be a giver, not a taker. Look to love your mate, do not look to be loved. If you both look to bless the other, surely you will both be blessed. Selfishness brings nothing but destruction.
I am all for romantic love within the parameters of marriage. If you fall madly in love with a man and you marry him, and that love lasts for forty years, God bless you. But if it fades, as it so often does, you will still have your children, your home life, and everything that you have built therein. If you choose an illegitimate situation outside of the parameters described by God, you will reap nothing but destruction, disaster and shame.
We need to lay hold of the truth of God's plan to live a godly, holy life, and begin to stamp out the tendency towards the self-gratification that is in this nation today. It can do nothing but destroy us, our children, and our descendants thereafter. We must return to a moral righteousness, a moral strength, and a life in the Spirit of God, and as a result, God will meet all of our needs.
When we seek, chase after, pursue and lust for things outside of the parameters set by God, it can only lead downward, unto our destruction.
Excerpt from Message #68.1.LEM- Romantic Love