By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer
I have a hard time reading fiction. But just recently I read a Christian Historical Fiction sort of romance type of novel. Since I’m not in the habit of knocking people’s written work, I won’t name the author or the book. But needless to say, I understood why I have such little taste for this type of thing. I must make a disclaimer and say I’m sure there is probably good stuff out there…just too often it is highly predictable and nauseatingly fleshly based. But it got me to thinking…and these thoughts will flow out in this blog about what love really is – and isn’t.
What really infuriated me as I read was the notion that a certain ‘feeling’ must mean love was truly present. Gag. I wanted to rip those shallow characters off the page, grab their faces, look them carefully in the eye and give them a good Biblical education. I didn’t count the number of paragraphs where the fair maiden wondered if he ‘loved’ her but then she caught a glimpse of passion in his eyes and then, for sure, she knew. Oh for certain, he must love me – she thought. And it was all to do with physical attraction and so little to do with what the Bible calls love.
And I was really annoyed. So, let me answer this question:
What’s LOVE got to do with it?
NOTHING. AND… EVERYTHING.
The kind of love that is marketed in these fanciful, weak-minded books is not the love promoted in the Bible. So, in that sense, this kind of cheap, feely, gushy, mushy, sentimental, ‘love’ has nothing to do with marriage, commitment, healthy relationships etc. It really is more like icing on the cake and actually, taken alone will leave one weak and anemic relationally speaking. And for those who practice Biblical love, that icing is often plentiful and far more rewarding than we realize.
Those characters in the book chalked ‘sailing off into the sunset’ as having gushy feelings towards each other. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for that sort of thing – which is why I really love the Spice-it-up Saturdays we’ve been doing here on the blog. But that isn’t enough.
The Bible teaches a love that really has little foundation in feeling. In fact, this idea of feelings preceeding marriage – or even being some kind of litmus test for how well a couple will fare in the future – is relatively new and quite untested. Throughout human history and Biblical history marriage seemed much more to be a matter of practicality and often women throughout the ages have had little say in the matter. I don’t think that is a great method – nor do I promote abuse of women in this manner of forced marriages – but I do think people have learned to be married and be married well without all the gushy stuff we think is so necessary.
I love the scene in Fiddler on the Roof where the main couple suddenly looks at each other and the husband says, “Do you love me?” And her answer is something along the lines of: “For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked the food, cleaned the house…why talk about love right now?” As in, Duh. Doesn’t that kind of commitment spell L-O-V-E?!!
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is Patient. Love is Kind.
Stop right there. Before you proclaim on Facebook how much you love your spouse, just ask yourself a few questions: Am I patient with him? Am I kind to her? Could he read 1 Corinthians 13 inserting my name for ‘love’? Would it be true? It might read something like this:
Sarah is patient…if I did what she asked me to.
Sarah is kind…when she’s not in a bad mood.
Sarah doesn’t envy – even when I have two hours alone to myself each day on the train.
Sarah doesn’t boast…much.
Sarah is not proud (except when we’re fighting and she’s sure she’s right).
Sarah does not dishonour others (unless they’re Christian romance writers)
Sarah is not self-seeking – except when she needs more sleep.
Sarah is not easily-angered (can I even write this – it’s almost a flat-out lie!)
You get the idea.
Do you think you love your spouse? Do you think you know what love is? Read 1 Corinthians 13 and see how far you get with putting your name in there.
On the flip side I see Biblical love demonstrated to me and before me on a daily basis. I see my husband and my Dad who work and give and serve and sacrifice and receive so little in return. Biblical Christ-like love does not wait to get rewarded for good behaviour. In future posts I’ll share more of the kind of Biblical love I see in my parents and my husband.
But for now, just know that Love – God’s love, pure, selfless, sacrificial…has EVERYTHING to do with how we will live.
Worldly love can fall by the wayside…where it belongs.