By Emilie Ng
Dr Ryan Messmore has broadcast his love life to the world.
The Catholic theologian, who is based in Brisbane Queensland, has written a book about his four-year courtship and subsequent marriage to his wife Karin Messmore.
Born to a devout Methodist family in the United States as one of triplets and later became an Anglican then a Catholic, Dr Messmore said writing a book had always been in the pipeline.
“I don’t think I ever envisioned writing a book in which total strangers would be reading about my dating life and my love life,” he laughed.
In love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage is what Dr Messmore calls his “theological memoir”, a real-life love story between him and his wife packed with advice and suggestions for steering a fulfilling romance.
“What is interesting is that it’s a story, a real-life story of how Karin and I basically went into the four years of undergraduate collegiate experience,” he said.
“It’s somebody’s actual story who has tried to live it out, and can say here’s where it’s worked and here’s where it didn’t.”
Dr Messmore’s book is aimed at “anybody who has ever wanted to be in love.”
“Now that means not only romantically involved, but also, the title of the book ‘In Love’ comes from a quote by CS Lewis.
“In The Great Divorce he talks about a character dwelling in Love himself, capital ‘L’, meaning God’s presence – so anybody who desires either of those two.”
Like most romance novels, it’s interlaced with the giddy and awkward nerves of love at first sight but weaves down a much larger narrative – the ancient Jewish betrothal process.
“So that’s a story I came across when I was first year at university, and Karin and I tried to incorporate aspects of that Jewish betrothal process into our own dating, engagement, marriage and wedding,” Dr Messmore said.
“The central idea that anchors the entire ancient Jewish betrothal process was the idea of covenant and actually you entered the covenant at betrothal, which quite different from today, where you get engaged and then you start really planning and preparing to enter marriage.
“In the Jewish betrothal process a lot of the discussions and planning, asking what is marriage, what will our roles in it be, you look at before betrothal.”
The concept was “unusual” given the normal college dating customs, which leaned more towards bedroom “hook ups” and fooling around.”
By the time Dr Messmore and his “Kansas sunflower” were engaged, they had “already hashed out all the issues and debates, tears and everything in pre-engagement counselling”.
This include the difficult discussion of contraception versus natural family planning, which Dr Messmore read about during a summer internship in his third year of university.
“And so I became convinced as a Protestant that I did not want to practice artificial contraception,” he said.
Dr Messmore found the Jewish betrothal story “made sense of the biblical story, the larger love story” in his life.
“I was just convinced that this was really beautiful and the way the betrothal story highlights the larger biblical story, there’s not much else I would rather write on,” he said.
Copies of In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage are available at ryanmessmore.com and Amazon.
From page 27 Issue 9: ‘What is a Vocation?’ of The Record Magazine