Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Valentine for You

I read this article today that started me thinking about love, and what God’s word says love is. If you’ve spent anytime at all listening to a pastor teach, you may have heard that the bible uses four Greek words for love: Philía is the Greek word for love between friends--brotherly love, I guess. Storgé is an affectionate love in a family, especially between parents and children. Éros is basically attraction, sometimes sexual, but also can describe the pull towards God, or the attraction of the unsaved to the Saints. Agápe (Latin charitas) (English word derivative cherishing) is spiritual, the unselfish Christian love summed up by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.

Of course, I think it would be safe to say that the highest of these would be agápe, the love that does not always run with the natural inclination, that seeks the welfare of all and works no ill to any, in search of opportunity to do good to all men. [From notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 105/ Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words]. This is the kind of love that all Christians should desire to show to the world. We nurture this kind of love when we strive to understand and obey God. But since this is Valentine’s Day, I am going to go on for a moment about the attraction that is, in this culture anyway, the instigator of most romantic relationships.

I wasn’t a Christian and was very young when I met my husband, so any noble attitude about love was lost on me at that time. It was all about the attraction. I did what came naturally when it came to sexual attraction, and –yada yada yada-, I became pregnant. My husband, who was not a Christian, but a good and honorable guy, married me, and pretty soon we had a family, and affectionate family love has been a part of our lives since.

It is a grave error to choose a mate based solely on attraction, and my marriage lasting 31 years is the exception to the rule, and I can only say that God has intervened mightily in it. Anyone considering marriage must realize that besides the decision to follow Jesus, your choice of a life-long mate is the most important decision you will ever make. Many of the attractions to our mate are completely foolish and wrong. In fact, so many things I found attractive about my husband were simply not true, but were day-dreams that I carried on in a sort of imaginary relationship in my head. And my husband has said things to me that make me realize he wasn’t really attracted to the real me either, but more to the me he thought I should be. Sometimes we commit to a person we don’t really know. This is the truth of the matter--what makes the love work is not the attraction, but the commitment. And although I know there are marriages that last without the Lord, it seems to me so much more difficult to make it through the trials with dignity and hope without that firm foundation that is the Lord, and the commitment to Him to hang in there.

It’s funny, but the attraction that brought my husband and I together and seemed so irresistible in my youth has become the least of the “loves” in my life. I am not making a comment on my sex life here. I am just pointing out that attracting love is the one love that diminishes just as surely as one must age. And sometimes the thing that was attractive at the time (“Isn’t it cute how he can fall asleep anywhere?”) becomes the very thing that drives us crazy (“It is so annoying when he falls asleep in church!”).

A cord of three strands is stronger than a cord of two. I thank God that He is the other strand that has made the commitment to love strong in my life.

Love Not Me
by John Wilbye

Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,

Nor for any outward part:
No, nor for a constant heart!
For these may fail or turn to ill:
Should thou and I sever.

Keep, therefore, a true woman's eye,
And love me still, but know not why!
So hast thou the same reason still
To dote upon me ever.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

And here’s a funny joke that reminded me of Doug: Two cannibals are eating a clown. One cannibal turns to the other and asks, "This taste funny to you?"
Bud ump um.


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