RYAN Messmore is about to find out what happens when you broadcast your love life to the world.
The Catholic theologian and popular speaker living in Brisbane has written a book about his four-year courtship and marriage with his wife Karin Messmore.
Dr Messmore, who was born to a devout Methodist family in Maryland, United States, as one of triplets and later became an Anglican then a Catholic, 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’s interesting is that it’s a story, a real-life story of how Karin and I basically went into the four years of our 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.”
Endorsed by renowned Catholic theologian Scott Hahn and Public Discourse editor Ryan T. Anderson, 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 that even Nicholas Sparks might find difficult to replicate – 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, that they understood marriage as covenant, and actually you entered the covenant at betrothal, which is 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 big issues and debates, tears and everything”.
This included the difficult discussion of contraception versus natural family planning, which Dr Messmore read about in his first year of university.
“And so I became convinced as a Protestant that I did not want to practise artificial contraception,” he said.
“I tell in the book how I went about handling that conversation with Karin and then by grace the way we both came to agree on that.
“It’s interesting that (natural family planning) is either a stumbling block for Protestants, like they get everything else but that’s holding them back, or it’s the first beautiful thing that a lot of Protestants see and then other things fall in place later.
“The latter was true for us.”
What Dr Messmore eventually found was 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.
After penning the first draft in 2011 while still living in the United States, Dr Messmore put a pause on writing while he was president at Campion College, Sydney.
He took it off the shelf last year in between conducting classes for his liberal arts degree course at Millis Institute, which he also founded in Brisbane.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge will launch Dr Messmore’s book at a free event at the Hanly Room, Francis Rush Centre, Brisbane, on April 11.
“I’m very honoured that (Archbishop Coleridge) is going to be there and he’s going to speak on the evening,” Dr Messmore said.
“I know that he cares a lot about finding fresh ways to communicate eternal truths, and so I see this book as an attempt to do that.”
Copies of In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage are available at ryanmessmore.com and Amazon.
WIN A COPY OF DR RYAN MESSMORE’S BOOK
The Catholic Leader is giving away one copy of In Love: The Larger Story of Sex + Marriage by Dr Ryan Messmore. For your chance to win a copy of the new book, tell us in 25 words or less what being in love means to you. Send your answer with your name, address and phone number to GPO Box 282, Brisbane, QLD, 4001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close at 5pm AEST, April 17. The winner will be contacted by phone and email.