Let me first say that I am an advocate of the permanence of marriage. This is a position that is rare amongst believer’s to say the least. John Piper also holds this position linked here. Not as if Piper is the final point of arbitration-for he is not. I linked it so you would be able to read his stance to get an idea of what I am talking about here. My stance is a lot more exhaustive but at least you’ll get an idea from reading his article on the matter. I have had a formal debate about the matter with my dearly beloved brother from Stand Up Ministries-Saiko Woods already and really don’t want to argue about it anymore-but just thought I would share. Let me tell you a story and see if you can imagine what you would do…..
Your beautiful wife(or husband) of 3 years finds out that she is pregnant!! You are both estatic over the matter and start to make preparations for the new child. You and your spouse have already agreed that she will stay home for a few years and you will work. So the man gets 3 jobs to slowly peck away at the debt and the wife searches for work to do at home on the computer all while making preparations to eventually come home from her day job. Soon enough the beautiful child is born and all seems to be going well. The good news is that you are making the ends meet with your 3 jobs but the bad news is that your relationship is dwindling because you are never at home with the family.
The husband realized this is not working as planned so the wife searches for work outside the home again since the at home computer thing just isn’t working out. The husbands approves of her new found job and they work opposite shifts in order to have round the clock care for the baby. In the time you took preparing for the baby-you also pull your family from a heavy word of faith-prosperity-seeker sensitive church and in retrospect, this move; strengthened your faith and weakened your spouses. You realize that the Lord spoke to you and saved you through this ordeal and in the process realized that your spouse is not a believer.
In the course of the next 3 months the relationship continues to dwindle and your spouse drops the bomb!! “I commited adultery!” Ironically(sovereign grace) enough you have been studying how to be a better spouse and how that is liken unto Christ and His Church. You now being a believer understand that when you recieve truth it must be followed by action, fueled by love-otherwise it is meaningless or useless. What to you do? Do you take the “Exception Clause” view and run for the hills as if you have not been a sinner who was dispatched an unlimited amount of grace or do you see this as an excusable reason to divorce your spouse? On the one hand you say, ” This is messed up Lord and this is NOT what I signed up for!” on the other you say, “What an extraordinary way to be like Christ and bask in the fellowship of His suffering.”
You see how your spouse has become the total opposite of what you had come to know and love and scriptures run through your mind regarding persecution and how the Lord said “I have not come to bring Peace…..” Listen here…
The Dictionary or the world defines love as this;A deep, tender, ineffable “feeling” of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
How does this contrast with the Biblical Worldview of Love? Let us look and see.
1 Corinthians 13(emphasis mine)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
First let me say; Isn’t it ironic how truth is connected to love? No coincidence here. Truth is conformity with fact and reality or whatever corresponds to reality. The type of love we see in these passages are rarely seen in our culture today. Yes we see couples who are happy and love without limits but are they manifesting true Biblical love? We see couples continuously getting divorces over ridiculous things. Most commonly we see divorces due to selfishness. In our culture people love and they will say it is unconditional but when something goes not according to their plan they retract their love like a rattle snake after a vicious strike to its victim. Really their love for you is tied to how they perceive your love for them. This is NOT Biblical Love, it is love centered around their own selfish will. Let me pause and say, “I have not arrived and I am learning this daily in my marriage and my wife can be a witness to this fact” I have seen enormous flaws in my past with the way I loved my wife and people in general and it is always tied to how I am treated versus how I would like to be treated regardless of their reaction towards me. You see our relationship to God is first and to people second. The way we treat people is a direct correlation of our understanding and obedience to God.
James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.
In this James hits the nail on the head. We are self-centered by our Adamic nature from birth but we are now striving after the qualities and nature of Christ and they are contrary to this world. If you look into your life, just think how putting the needs of others would make a difference in every situation. This is no way makes men passive or feminized, it on the contrary emulates the attributes of Christ with love and truth hand and hand; you see it can be no other way. For example-If you love your friend or family member, your love for them compels you to tell them the truth about their corrupt state, that is true love.
John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.(emphasis mine)
1 Peter4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.(emphasis mine)
Being in Love-I have come to the realization that this is not a Biblical Term. Biblical Love is never a state. Love is always a commitment, a choice, or an action. So the Bible crucifies what we call “In Love”, in this we see people say they fall out of love or fall into love as if it is some magical hole in the air. Love is something totally(maybe not totally but in conjunction with) aside from our fickle emotions. If you look at people in the Bible in Acts, at the time of conversion you very rarely see any documentation of emotions tied to their salvation aside from joy and happiness in their suffering in which they see it as an honor to be counted worthy to suffer for HIM. We are to Love our wives as Christ Loves the church and love one another as our self. If love is simply tied to feeling or sex, when we have hard times the marriage will diminish and a allegory can be made from that to how we see the false gospel preached and when people go through storms of life(in which the Bible promises persecution to every true believer) they fade away.(parable of the Sower)
Analyze your love in the face of the truth of God’s infallible Word. I assure you that you will see a immediate need for a change in the way you deal with people and not just your spouse. Remember your horizontal relationships are just a reflection of your vertical relationship with the Creator of all. In Christ