There’s a popular notion that has crept into our way of thinking over the past... well, since the beginning of human relationships. The issue at hand, though, is that we are glorifying this cultural mindset more than we ever have before. The issue I’m talking about is how we view love.
Let’s start by taking into account what so many of our musicians and artists are saying every day about how our culture views love, because, let’s face it, they represent our thought patterns and lead us into a specific line of thinking. Love through the years has certainly changed its tune in America over the past 60 years or so. Think back to some of the songs that have defined American culture over that time. In the 1950’s America had a “love” affair with Rock music, which centered around having a good time, hanging out with friends, and objectifying “love” to make it something that is achieved. Top 5 songs in the 50’s: Johnny B. Goode, Jailhouse Rock, Rock Around the Clock, Tutti-Frutti, Whole Lat of Shakin’ Going On. In the 1960’s we saw songs like Respect, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. We start to see a shift in the objectification of love to the searching of the feeling of love. By the 1970’s we started to see the message (apart from disco & drugs influencing everything) “love can be tough but we can get through it together” coupled with “do what feels good” take hold in the mindset of American music. Songs like Stayin’ Alive, Let It Be, More Than A Feeling, and I Will Survive defined much of the 70’s. In the 80’s & 90’s we start to see this idea of “love is an emotion” continue on, but it also began to transform into a sex driven “love” with songs like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Like A Virgin, I Will Always Love You, I Want It That Way, and ...Baby One More Time. And in the 2000’s, well, let’s just say the love = sex/emotion is all you hear on the popular music stations. Songs like I’m A Slave For You, Promiscuous, & My Love hang entirely on presenting love as an emotion (that usually translates to sex).
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, it seems that we are confused as to what love really is! What is love then? I’d like to enter into the discussion as this point that love is NOT an emotion or a feeling (*sarcasm*) like we so often use it in every day speaking.
A good friend of mine spoke an amazing truth into my life when she made the statement “Love is a choice.” I had never thought of it that way before. At first I was a little appalled that she should say that, but then I really started to chew on that. Okay, if that’s true, then what does that look like? I figured a good place to start was looking at the example of love that we should all strive to follow... God & His Word.
If love isn’t an emotion but a choice, what does the Bible have to say about that? I began looking at the instances where God shows His love for us and I began to see a trend forming. I saw that love has absolutely nothing to do with the recipient, but it has everything to do with the giver! Think about it... can we earn God’s love, or does He freely give it to us? I began to see what love truly is, and it’s beautiful!
Enter LOVE. Love IS, in fact, a choice that is made by the giver. It is not a feeling or emotion. Feelings and emotions can come along with love, but in and of itself love is a decision. Does this cheapen love? No... not all all. In fact, it makes it so much more beautiful! God loved us while we were still sinners (and sinning). We were doing everything He hates, yet He still chose to love us and even kill Jesus for us that He could rise again and conquer those very same sins (sin = death). So, God loves us, but I’m sure it doesn’t make Him happy when we sin. The Word tell us our sin grieves God’s heart, but He still loves us! This is a love that is not happy feel-good fluffy garbage (like we want to think of love as), but it’s a love that endures.
If our spouse does something that makes us angry we must choose to love him or her. Naturally we recoil from this thought because it may not make us “feel good” to love him/her at that moment, but this is what love truly is. This is why when someone comes to me and says, “I just don’t love him/her anymore” I tell them that they just made an incredibly true statement. Then I tell them, “You’re right. You have chosen to no longer love that person anymore.” There is almost always a rebuff immediately because how dare I suggest that they may be at fault. “I just don’t have the same feelings for her anymore” or “He just doesn’t make me happy anymore” are statements indicative of a heart condition. It’s a heart condition that is filled with pride and is devastating to any relationship.
I once read this sentence and it made a huge impact on me, “If you can’t choose to love one spouse, then you will never be able to love another.” This is so true! Another quote that is specifically geared toward men is, “A man who says ‘I’ve never loved you’ is essentially a man who is saying essentially this: ‘I’ve never acted like a Christian.’”
We have cheapened the word “love” to include any feelgoodery type of mindset. This must change. I challenge you to be VERY CAUTIOUS in the way you use the word “love” as it’s of upmost importance to our understand of what love really is! To use it correctly you might always think of it like this: I choose to love you.