This past Wednesday was Valentine's Day, the day that people traditionally think about love and romance. Whether it is perennial favorites like Disney princesses, or the current vampire or 50 shades flavor of the moment, love sells. It sells movie tickets, it sells books, and it sells fantasies.
The problem is, what it sells isn’t real. Whether it’s a fairy tale ending or a sexually-charged rendezvous with the “perfect” person, the media has always redefined the question “What does it mean to love someone?”
Most media depictions of love present the idea that love is always an emotionally driven relationship. The stronger the emotion, the more “in love” the couple are. But what about when the emotions go away? What happens when he gets bored because the thrill is gone? What happens when she has a bad day and just isn’t “feeling it” at the moment. What happens when he sees someone else and has a stronger sexual attraction to her? What happens when she realizes that strong romantic feelings don’t necessarily translate into good communication or healthy ways of handling conflicts?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the “tingle-in-your-toes” feelings you get when you’re with your lover. I love a great date night. I enjoy an adventure with my bride. But if you base your love strictly on feelings, and on an obligation to keep the other person happy (because you believe they will surely do the same for you), then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
Feelings come and go, and a romanticized love comes and goes with it. But love that is selfless builds an abiding relationship. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul said it this way (italics mine):
Love is patient, and I need my spouse to have patience with me far more than I’d like to admit, love is kind, even when I’m unkind, my lover is still good to me. It does not envy, my mate wants me to succeed and be everything God is calling me to be, it does not boast, my spouse doesn’t demean me or make me feel inadequate, it is not proud, my lover delights in my accomplishments and victories more than his/her own. It does not dishonor others, my mate lifts me up, even when it would be easier to talk about my faults, it is not self-seeking, my lover see us as one flesh, knowing what blesses me will bless him/her, it is not easily angered, my spouse and I, we know how to push each other’s buttons, but he/she respects me enough not to take cheap shots, it keeps no record of wrongs, my lover doesn’t fight historical battles and use my past mistakes to humiliate me. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, my covenant lover always points me toward God. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and puts God at the center of our relationship. Love never fails, at least real love that comes from God and permeates a marriage.
I hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day. I hope it was filled with romance and fun. But I really hope and pray that you have a marriage filled with real, lasting, Christ-centered love. Then, when the chocolate melts, the flowers wither, and “hot” feelings lapse, you will have an abiding love that will bring you a stronger joy and peace than anything the media tries to sell you.
Valentine's Day is over, but finding real, Christ-centered love is an ongoing endeavor. Marriage: A Blessed Promise is a fun, practical, Biblically-based, couples' study that can be used with individual couples, in small groups, or in a Bible class? It's less than four bucks and available now from 21st Century Christian. Give a post-Valentine's Day gift that will have lasting benefits. Order online here.