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Love, Marriage, and Pizza

What is "true" love? What makes it true? Can you fall into it? Can you fall out of it? Is there "false" love? Can you love someone falsely? And this is just confusion created by the vocabulary!

I had a theory. So I put my expensive, hard-to-use, over-the-top Bible study software to work on the phrases "feel love," "felt love," "feeling loved," and "feels loving." I got nothing. No verse in the Bible puts the words (or any derivative of) "love" and "feel" together. The Bible simply doesn't describe love as a feeling. However, love is encouraged. Love is even commanded!

In Ephesians 5.25, Paul instructs husbands to "love your wives." Notice he didn't say, "Men, marry the one you love." Paul tells men to continually love their wives. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor killed in 1945, viewed the relationship between love and marriage this way, "It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, your marriage that sustains the love." Hmm.... That's not what we get from the movies.

Love is something you do, not just something you feel. In Matthew 22.37, Jesus says to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind - and love our neighbors like ourselves. Love is a verb. It describes our behavior. It's something we do. Not just something we passively fall into, like we couldn't help it. Can you imagine, "I was just living life, partying like crazy, then out of nowhere, I was just madly in love with God; I was accidentally serving people and without doing anything, I was overwhelmed with selflessness." I don't think so.

And I (only half-jokingly) blame romantic comedies. Two selfish people get through one conflict, and we're supposed to believe they ride off in the sunset and never have any more problems? Maybe the problem is that life is not like the movies. The reality is, right after they worked out their first problem, and just when they thought it was resolved, another problem came up. Then another. They worked it out, and before long - another. "Wait, this isn't like the movies at all! Maybe it's not true love. Maybe he's not the right guy. Maybe I've fallen out of love with her." Or maybe they expect to feel love all the time without ever having to do love. Sin and culture have so greatly distorted our ideas of intimacy. After all, it's not even weird to hear someone confess that they love pizza. Or those new shoes.

On love and marriage, John Piper says it this way:

Staying married... is not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant.... Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God's eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. (This Momentary Marriage, 25)

And Christ and his bride really do live happily ever after.