Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant
--1 Corinthians 13:4
It was late. She was in bed, reading, and waiting for him to come home. When he walked into the room she looked up and smiled. She opened her mouth to say something, but he walked past her without a word.
They had been married for years. She knew how these trips exhausted him, and she had learned when to be quiet. In just a moment he returned from their closet—clean shirt, suit, pajamas, socks, and shorts draped over his arm. Pausing beside the bed, his only words were, “I’m leaving. It’s over. I just don’t love you anymore.” With that he tossed the keys to the house on the bed and walked out of their bedroom, their home, and their life together.
What happened to love? Where did it go? Why did it fail?
Isn’t this the claim in almost every case of divorce or infidelity? And if love is really gone, why stay married? Why be monogamous? It’s that simple, isn’t it?
No, it’s not. Not with God. According to God, the One who designed and instituted marriage, love is a choice. It’s a matter of obedience, not emotion.
And please hear me, Beloved. If you can grasp this single truth, you will understand why it is possible to have a marriage without regrets. If you can untangle the confusion created by this word “love,” if you can catch a glimpse of God’s perspective and begin to live in the light of His changeless truth, you will find that bit of heaven within reach of your marriage and your home.
Love is a choice!
Understanding this single precept from God’s Word could be the most important to your well-being. While it may not cure your pain, radically change your spouse, or remake your marriage, it can bring a whole new depth of understanding, purpose, and healing into your life.
Four Ways to Say “I Love You”
New Testament Greek uses four different words for “love.” Once we grasp their meanings, I think we will be better able to understand why people talk about “falling out of love.” We’ll gain some insight as to how a man or woman can abandon a mate, walk away from his or her own flesh and blood, and rationalize a lack of love as reasonable grounds for divorce. At the same time, we will also see a shining solution to this very old, sadly common human dilemma.
Storge. The Greek word storge means natural affection. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man or woman that rests on something close to him or her. It’s that natural affection of soul that wells up within for your mate, your child, your close friend, even your dog.
Because its source is fickle human nature, it is a love that comes and goes. It can be virtually destroyed in early childhood. A child who endures years of isolation or brutality may simply no longer be capable of this emotional kind of love. In Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3, storge is prefixed with an alpha (negative) prefix, meaning “unloving,” or “without natural affection.”
That describes what happened in the illustration that opened this chapter, doesn’t it? The man had no natural affection for his wife. Somewhere in the space of time, events, and circumstances it disappeared—and with it went the relationship and the vows.
Eros. The second word for love so typifies our culture. It is eros, the word for erotic love. Eros is a love of passion—a passion that seizes and masters the mind. Its source and object are one and the same—self! This is the sort of love that has dominated pop music charts for years. It’s a word with chemistry in it; it’s a “feel good” love. Some characteristic in a person of the opposite sex pushes a button in you and you get a “shiver in your liver.” You’re “turned on,” as the saying goes. You’ve “fallen in love.”
But what happens if that characteristic that so charms and dazzles is no longer apparent or even ceases to exist? What happens when the shiver goes away? What happens if you get up one morning and no longer feel anything at all? Is love gone, too? Is it time to end the relationship because the pleasure isn’t there?
As you can see, eros is a self-centered love; it looks for what it can receive, what can bring pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction. “Being loved,” then, depends on being attractive—and staying attractive—to another person. It is strictly conditional.
How I remember my “before Christ” days, when as a divorcée I would ask a man if he would still love me if I had to have my breasts removed. It may sound crass to write this, but the concern was very real. I asked the question more than once, more than twice. To me, my breasts are a symbol of my womanhood, my femininity, my beauty—a very crucial part of my physical appeal. But what if cancer suddenly stripped me of this pleasurable symbol of womanliness? Would my lover still love me. . . or would he be turned away?
Without even knowing it at the time, I was asking for a different kind of love—one that would supersede all other loves. I was asking for a love I had no ability to give—and I didn’t even know it! How blind I was. And how thankful I am that I discovered it.
By the way, you’ll never find the word “eros” in the Bible. Isn’t that interesting? Even in the Greek translation of Song of Solomon, that passionate love poem between a bride and groom, that word does not appear.
Beloved, does love seem to have slipped out of your life? Or do you search for love but never seem to find it? The two kinds of love we’ve talked about are based on feelings and emotions. But there’s another kind of love, expressed in a God who gave His only Son for us, and the way to know that love is to know the God of the Bible.
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