With the release of EnRoute’s new book on June 5, 2015, Refractions of Light by Kevin Symonds, and the new release of Grey by E.L. James on June 18th, it is a good time to review what is true love and what is not love. Looking at the covers of the two books, they look very similar until you look a little closer into the eyes. We can see Mary turned towards us reflected in the eye of Symonds’ book. In stark contrast, the cover of Grey gives us the reflection of a naked woman turned away.
In our tolerant and “anything goes” society, it’s easy to confuse love for lust or only seek lust and put off love to satisfy our lusts and desires first. We have become broken because of it. We watch porn, we live together instead of committing to marriage, we have meaningless affairs, and we think one night stands won’t affect future relationships. Jesus commands us to, “Love one another,” in John 13:34, and not to lust after another. Jesus said, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28).
St. Paul gives us an example of God’s perfect love:
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
1. Love is…God
Or better put, God is love. Love is not just one thing we can say about God, it is His very nature. We get a taste of God’s love for us through his sacrifice by giving us his only Son, Jesus Christ to bear our sins for us. There is no greater love than this, “that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus tells us in John 15:13.
2. Love is…God given
God created man and then worked to create a suitable partner for him. He knew that Adam could not live alone, but needed a mate for him to share his love with. God put Adam into a deep sleep and took a rib from his side and created woman. Out of Adam, God created another perfectly made so they could love one another.
3. Love is…Commitment
During the creation of Eve, in Genesis 2:24, a man is supposed to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. The verb ‘cleave’ means to adhere strongly to or become very strongly involved with or emotionally attached to (someone). Therefore, the love from a husband to his wife should be a strong unbreakable bond, cleaving to one another. Commitment to one person is a large undertaking and should not be ‘tested’ or ‘tried’ and easily broken if it ‘doesn’t work out’.
4. Love is…Holy
A husband’s love for his wife is supposed to be an example of Christ’s love for His Church. He should be willing to give himself up to her, so that he might sanctify her, make her holy. He should love his wife as much as he loves his own body. Wives are also to be subject in everything to their husbands, just as the Church is subject to Christ. It is not master/slave relationship, but mutual love and respect for each other which binds their love and makes them holy.
5. Love is…Faithful
Joseph could have had Mary stoned for coming home pregnant after she was betrothed to him. Instead, he loved her so much that he did not want her to die, so he decided to quietly divorce her. When he fell asleep while praying, he came to understand that she did not sin, but was carrying the Son of God. Joseph also demonstrates faithful love by taking care of his wife in finding a place for her to give birth, listening to God to bring his family to Egypt, and finally bringing them back to Nazareth when it was safe to come home again.
6. Love is not…Lust
Lust is a very strong sexual desire for someone or something. It is of the flesh, and of the eyes and of the world, not of the Father (1 John 2:16). It is a power that draws a person into submission of something of this world, like sexual desires, gluttony, pride, power, and draws them away from the love of God. Lust is always selfish, it always hurts God first, then the person with the desire, and the others who are left behind.
7. Love is not…Free
Love is not free or simple, but it is an open communication and relationship with another person. God gives us the freedom of free-choice, to choose to love or choose to lust. With freedom, comes great responsibility, and like the military quote, “Freedom isn’t free.” It may cost you your heart, your time, your money, and even your life. Galatians 5:13 states, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.”
8. Love is not…Sinful
We were made out of love and made pure, but sin entered into our world because of pride and greed of God’s power. Sin is not love. There is no such thing as a “little white lie” that won’t hurt anyone. We will not try to deceive, lie or go behind their back to satisfy our own selfish needs. Sin always causes separation. Just as Adam and Eve were separated from God because of their sin, we become separated in our relationships because of sin. If we love someone, we will be honest with them, at all costs.
9. Love is not…Torture
In our “free society” we have deceived ourselves into thinking torture is an acceptable form of love, or that if we love someone, it is ok for them to sexually torture us. Some feel like if they don’t feel pain, they can’t feel anything. Torture is an infliction of severe pain on someone else as a punishment or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain. That is not love. Dominating someone else for your own pleasure is not love. Inflicting pain upon something that is supposed to be pleasurable is not good.
10. Love is not…Worthless
The greatest gift we are given or that we give to another is love. Love is not a temporary arrangement, it is not something to try out and see how it works out. It is not to be given one night and left behind the next day. The payment for love is our heart, our whole heart. We can not give someone half our love. Sometimes our heart is returned to us broken when that person doesn’t accept our love. If anyone understands a broken heart, it is God. God gave us all that he had, his whole Heart in our Lord Jesus Christ, and we returned him to God broken. Jesus’ sacrifice was not worthless, it was everything!
If you are struggling with lust, a misunderstanding of what love is, or a broken heart, ask God to heal your broken heart. Read Psalm 147 about how much God cares for you, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (verse 3), and find the help you need.