Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, actually tomorrow, so I think it’s appropriate to talk about love, don’t you? I think so!
One day, one of my sons said to me, “Mom, I love this girl, and unless I marry her, I won’t be happy for the rest of my life, and I know this for sure.”
Guess what grade he was in?
Yep! Luckily Mama Bear is prepared to handle situations like this.
So I knelt down at his bedside and I said, “I am sure you love her very much, and if God wills, you will marry her. So, why don’t we pray for her and her family so God blesses them? And while we are at it, let’s go ahead and tell God what you just told me.”
You have no idea how happy he was. His face lit up as if I said to him, “Let’s prepare a wedding.”
The word “love” is a big word. But everybody, including kindergarten kids, thinks that they know what love is.
Young single people looking to be in a relationship swear by it: “I love this girl to death!”
A person like me hears this kind of thing and says, tongue in cheek, “I am sure you do!”
You see, love by its nature demands and needs permanency to flourish and be what it is. It also needs exclusivity and boundaries so that it can bear fruit. Like a pine tree, it needs patience and prudence on “the gardener’s” part, so that it takes root and grows, able to give shade to many as it is meant to.
What am I talking about?
I am talking about love, in the context of love between a man and a woman.
You see, this love, for it to germinate, take root, grow, and flourish, needs a foundation called marriage: two souls coming to be one; one man and one woman coming together be one for life. No exit!
Before this permanent and official (not secretive) marriage happens, what brings this one man and one woman into marriage is attraction/infatuation.
People fall in love with the idea of being with a particular person and they say, “I am in love with this person.”
Let’s say, a girl looks at a singer on her church’s worship team and feels like God is speaking to her heart that he is her man.
Because he dresses in a style that she likes, he looks like her favorite movie actor, and he talks about Jesus Christ like a theologian. So, she thinks, “He can help me grow in Christ,” not knowing that it is the Holy Spirit, the word of God, who helps her grow in Christ.
When he asks her out, she feels like she was born all over again.
Then, all of a sudden, every church program becomes very interesting to her.
He comes to church even if he doesn’t sing just so he can be with her. If she doesn’t come to church, he loses interest to be in church. They see each other as often as they can, which is never enough for both of them.
Now when you meet this people and chat with them, they tell you that they are in love!
I mean, for lack of words, I will agree with them. However, they are not in love, but in attraction or more appropriately, in infatuation.
Infatuation means, “an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something.”
Now please don’t get me wrong: this is not bad. Some people will just explain how bad infatuation is.
But in my opinion, I think it is natural for someone to be infatuated with the person they are attracted to, and infatuation has a right place in our lives, especially at the start of a dating relationship.
As long as young single people don’t blindly say things like, “I am madly in love with so and so who does not believe in Jesus Christ,” they are okay.
That is why I personally don’t advise anyone to date one person more than six months. After six months, they have to discuss what they’re thinking, going forward as a couple (assuming that they are older than 18 and the man at least has his first degree). Dragging each other in this “indefinite” dating is not healthy!
So after six months, they move into a season of serious dating, called courting.
Then they get married. All this process may take a year or so.
Then, to their nightmare, they both find out that they do not know each other very well.
You know the funny thing is?
Some young married couples come to me for marriage counseling, and when I talk to them separately, they usually say something like, “But the thing is, we were young and crazy when we decided to get married, and we didn’t get a chance to know each other very well.”
As if to say, “We wouldn’t get married if we knew each other as well as we know each other now, in marriage.”
But the thing is, there is no such kind of “knowing” outside of the confinement of marriage. “Knowing” only exists in a marriage!
I know! That is a bit scary! But to the one who trusts God, not him/herself, marriage is a place not only to know his/her spouse but to also know the God they trust to help them when they are unable to do a thing.
Some people rush into marriage believing that they will stay in the infatuation stage for the rest of their lives! Do they listen to advice? No, because those of us who are older and married look foolish to them (I’m speaking from my own experience here🙇♀️ – I thought old folks were boring and don’t know any better🥴).
But the reality is, marriage is not created to contain and nurture infatuation, but to kill it and replace it with “LOVE.”
So when infatuation is put to death, people panic. “I don’t even have sexual desire towards this person.” “I don’t want to spend every moment with this person.” “I don’t have the energy to put up with his/her emotions.” They feel like they’re living with a stranger.
But if this kind of couple knows the stages married couples go through after a wedding, they can face this scary season with courage and enthusiasm because the best is yet to come!
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I love unmarried couples quoting this passage to express how much they love each other. I just say, “Awww🥰!”
Because a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love does not exist outside marriage. The author of this love is the God who created marriage to reflect the marriage between Jesus Christ and the church, so it makes sense that it would only flourish in the confinements of the exact institution he created to express it!
That being said, though, the above passage still helps unmarried couples to see if they are “in love” with the person who has the potential to love that way.
If, for example, the man demands to have sex before marriage and scolds the girl for saying no to sex, he may not be godly-husband-material who has the potential to love and die for his potentially soon-to-be wife as Christ loved and died for the church, because he only attends lust and wants to rejoice with “evil,” without fear of God in his heart.
If the girl sleeps with a guy and does not seem to care about her purity or feel guilty, she may not have the potential to love her soon to be husband as a godly wife supposed to love because she is self-seeking, not God seeking. ///