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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 6

Love

Ephesians 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

Although we have said much about love elsewhere in the subject on “Sex,” it seems that a more exhaustive treatment of the subject is necessary. After all is said and done, love is the one thing that is absolutely necessary. Without love it is well nigh impossible for a couple to succeed in marriage.

This is especially true in this day of over emphasis of physical attraction and sex. Of all the virtues and qualities of character that we might mention, love alone will hold people together. For this reason we certainly need to know what love really is.

Although sex is important, apart from love it is base and animalistic. Love must be mutually real for two people to experience true sexual satisfaction. The harmony of hearts and minds as a result of love based upon honor and respect for each other is absolutely necessary. Not only must sexual desire be gratified during intercourse but the mind, the heart or the spirit of the persons must experience satisfaction also.

Illicit sex or sex without true love violates these principles and makes it impossible for a couple to achieve true sexual harmony. Anything that a man does or needs to do, whether physical or spiritual, is governed by certain God-given principles. Consequently it has to be done right or in accordance with these principles.

In the final analysis the privilege and enjoyment of sex is not just physical but spiritual also.

It is the testimony of many couples who married in unbelief that their sex life was revolutionized after coming to Christ. After salvation, sex became a sacred and blessed experience with spiritual significance. They not only became thankful to God for the privilege of sex but experienced a fuller and more complete satisfaction in the sexual union. The sanctifying presence of God makes a difference in all things including sex.

MANY TYPES OF LOVE

Although there are many words translated “love” in the Bible, the love we are concerned about here is true conjugal love, or the love that a man and woman must have for each other if their marriage is to succeed. Conjugal love is based upon many factors that cause a man and woman to be ideally suited for each other.

However, it might be well to consider some of the various types of love mentioned in the Bible. For example, three types of love are mentioned in II Timothy 3. Paul speaks of men who are lovers of their own selves, lovers of pleasures and lovers of God. In each instance the word “lovers” came from a different Greek word.

There is a love which means to be fond of and can apply to a person or an object. There is also a fleshly or carnal love which is based upon physical attraction or the tie of kinship such as the Pharisees had for their own. And lastly, there is a deep abiding love that endures and overcomes such as is translated charity in I Corinthians 13.

But our question here is, “What kind of love does it take to build a marriage?” It is evident from a casual observation that many do not have this type of love. The breakup of marriages and divorces is ample testimony that this type of love is lacking in many marriages.

Yet many couples say during their courtship and early days of marriage that they are madly in love. Later on these same people come to literally despise each other.

This usually happens after they live together awhile and come to see each other’s faults. Being ignorant of their true condition, this results in a conflict of personalities with each blaming the other. With neither the wisdom nor the desire to work their problems out, separation and divorce are the inevitable result.

MUST HAVE FOUNDATION

Much of this could be avoided if couples desiring marriage knew what love really is and would take sufficient time to come to know each other. The saying that love is blind is false; conjugal love must have a basis or foundation if it is to endure when the trials begin to come. In the matter of salvation or coming to Christ, Jesus said, we must dig deep and build our spiritual house upon the rock if it is to stand when the storms begin to come against it. Matt. 7:24-27. In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus gave us a parable about counting the cost before we begin to build. If this is true of spiritual things, how much more is it necessary concerning marriage.

Although conjugal love cannot be compared to God’s love, it must exceed all other earthly ties. Jesus said, “For this cause (conjugal love) shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife.” Mark 10:7.

The union of man and woman is a type of the union of Christ and his church. Failure to understand and count the cost is why so many marriages go on the rocks. Mere professors of Christianity fail because no true union is ever effected between them and Christ. Marriages, likewise, fail because there is never a true marital union effected between the man and the woman.

MANY SUBSTITUTES

Many things other than love have been responsible for drawing people together. Sometimes it is infatuation which is defined as intense unreasoning passion or desire. Suddenly you are overwhelmingly attracted to a person whom you may know very little about.

Infatuation may be the result of any number or combinations of things in both parties that causes them to be so powerfully attracted to each other. This situation is often referred to as love at first sight. After a more thorough look, love at first sight may turn into hate.

Infatuation is often the result of physical attraction or personality impression. First impressions of people can be false or very misleading. It is not always a deliberate effort on the part of either sex to attract and deceive, they are simply trying to make the best impression they can. Although there are always some charlatans out to deceive and seduce, it is normal for those interested in the opposite sex to put on their best front.

Though is it possible for infatuation to develop into true love after a period of time, infatuation in itself is not love.

The great need in such cases is for the couple to go together long enough to really get to know each other. It is easy for people to be in love by way of long distance. As the saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt.” Couples need to be together with their eyes and ears open long enough to see the real person.

Some marry to get away from home and the dominion of their parents. Marriage to them seems to be a way of escape from parental correction and restraint. In many instances the problem is in them and not their parents. Although most parents are at fault to some degree in raising their children, it is a great mistake to think that marriage will solve the problem.

Many marry because they are in love with love. They have romantic illusions about love, marriage and sex. Someone comes along and they simply make that person the center of their dream. Too often this type of love turns into a marital nightmare.

Still others want a husband or a wife with all the trimmings that go with married life. They want a home, security, companionship and sex. They don’t necessarily have to be madly in love, just physically acceptable and able to fill the bill.

Others marry for money, social prestige, or ulterior motives. To them, marriage is secondary to their own selfish aspirations. In spite of the fact that people marry for many reasons who are not truly in love, some actually come to love each other in the process of time.

However this is certainly no recommendation that people marry for any of these reasons. Many of their marriages are doomed to fail in process of time. All it takes is sufficient time to see each other’s faults.

Although there is no real love between them, some couples manage to live together for varying lengths of time. This is because of mutual benefit or other common interests. It may be because of children, religion, positions or advantage or other factors. However, like the wall built with untempered mortar (Ezekiel 13:10-11), they are subject to fall when the storm comes.

ONLY BASIS FOR MARRIAGE

The only real reason for marriage is love. As said elsewhere in this subject on “Sex”, love is not some senseless mystical force that suddenly hits you like a thunderbolt. Love, like everything else, must have a basis. Charming ways, physical attraction and sex appeal might all be present but this in itself is not love nor the basis for marriage.

It is my conviction that people marrying in unbelief or out of Christ have far less chance of success in marriage. This also includes nominal Christianity or mere professors. Without God, who is love (I John 4:8), it is difficult to love someone. The natural man is too often motivated by his own selfish and depraved nature.

This is also the reason sex is often the ruling factor in marriage. Beyond doubt, this is the greatest thing that draws man and woman together. This is as it should be. God created the two sexes so they would be attracted to each other. But he also gave them wisdom to not be ruled by the sex urge alone. There is certainly nothing wrong with sex providing a couple have a genuine love for each other. And this love must be the result of many intangible qualities that make them suited for each other.

BEGINNING OF LOVE

The question is, how does conjugal love begin? It starts in the heart of the person who has the capacity to love and be loved. Love is not just a desire for a woman that you call a wife who supplies your sex, has your children, keeps your house and cooks your meals.

Neither is love the desire for a man you call husband, who gives you his name, brings in the groceries and supplies your sexual need. The desire for a man or woman called husband or wife who supplies the physical or material necessities of life is not love. Love has to have a more enduring foundation than sexual gratification and the creature comforts of life.

TRUE LOVE

Love, as we have said elsewhere, is a two way street. It must be an unselfish desire to give as well as receive. True conjugal love involves the whole personalities of two people — not just any two people but the man and a woman who are uniquely suited for each other, suited for each other by the many intangible and complex qualities that make them the persons they are. These qualities have to be such that they cause the two to blend together and make one complete whole.

With the capacity to love and be loved, it is a matter of finding the person that God has made whose life can become one with yours. In the process of searching and finding that one person you can truly love, the woman should never be the aggressor. This is contrary to divine principle. Being a type of the Church, the woman should be more timid and reticent than a man. I Peter 3:1-6. The man, being the head of the woman, should be the leader and the more aggressive of the sexes.

Although the woman may be attracted to the man first in recognizing in him the type of man she could fall in love with, she should modestly and discreetly wait for him to notice her.

As Christ takes the initiative in wooing and winning his bride, the Church, the man should take the initiative in wooing and winning his bride, the woman. I John 4:19 says, “We love him because he first loved us.” It is when we learn of his love, his concern and care for us that we love him. In like manner the woman with the capacity to love and be loved, responds to the love of the man. In his seeking, the man is not just looking for a woman with a beautiful body or a cook, housekeeper or companion but a woman with spiritual, mental and physical qualities that cause him to love her.

A man can be in love with a woman’s spirituality or moral virtues. He can be in love with her mind or intelligence. He can love her companionship because they understand and are able to communicate with each other. He can be in love with her sentiments or emotions. In addition to honor and respect, plus the ability to communicate, a couple must need each other and feel needed.

As the man expresses his love to and for the woman, she simply responds to his love. With the capacity to love as well as be loved, her love deepens and grows for the man as she comes to know and understand him. His love, likewise, deepens and grows for her as he comes to know and understand her better.

LOVE IS NOT BLIND

This is the great reason why a couple should really come to know each other before considering marriage. If they will take their time and keep their eyes and ears open, they will discover whether it is really love or something else.

However love is more than a sum total of certain qualities residing in two people. Compatibility, communication, moral virtues, and physical attraction help form a specific personality but they are no guarantee of love. Although these things are important there might actually be certain negative factors that are just as important in bringing two people together. The person you fall in love with might not be attractive or desirable to others but they are the only one for you.

GREATEST MANIFESTATION OF LOVE

Perhaps the greatest manifestation of conjugal love is the unselfish desire to make the object of your love happy. On the part of the man, he has a tender longing desire to shelter, provide for and protect his lady love. On the part of the woman, she wants to please the man in her life and make him happy. Their greatest joy and happiness is to be together and see the other happy. This desire to make each other happy is the result of mutual admiration and respect plus the knowledge that they both need each other.

Real love is not self-centered and just interested in its own gratification. Although all normal human beings desire to be appreciated and loved, true love is more concerned about the other party than itself. I cannot over emphasize the fact that two people in love feel needed by each other and have an intense desire to meet that need. When apart, their thoughts and concern are about the other and they long and look forward to the time when they can be together. When together they experience a joy, a peace, a rest, a strength and a completeness they do not have with any other human being. This is because they have become one. This is love.

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