Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Love Got to Do with It?

Sarah was writing the other day and she opted to write about love. And it got me thinking about love, what does it mean really? How does what God says about love compare with the world's view of love and what it means to them?

We all know the story of the book and film, Love Story. Many of us are familiar with the line "Being in love means never saying your sorry (loosely quoted)." Movies have a lot to say about love. They have entire genre's that focus on that subject alone - love/romance/romantic comedy, romantic drama. In fact, some of my favorite movies are romantic comedies, like Music and Lyrics, The Holiday, You've Got Mail, and Yours, Mine, & Ours (the Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda version - not the new one). In these movies we see a lot of things, sometimes there is deceit involved in romance movies - for example How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days - two people who are each lying to each other and we as an audience are along for the ride. And yet, in the end they seem to magically work it out with forgiveness. One person says they are sorry. Hmmmm. . . interesting how that contradicts Love Story isn't it.

So what is love really? According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary love is "strong affection; warm attachment; a beloved person; unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for others" and it can also mean to "cherish, to feel a passion, devotion or tenderness for; caress; and to take pleasure in." But how do these definitions compare or contrast with the Bible and what God says love really is? Let's look to 1 Corinthians 13:4 - 8 or the Love Chapter: " Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records 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." Interesting. . . two definition in the dictionary and one in scripture. In some ways they compare - both define love as self-less, they speak of love taking delight in good things that happen to those we love. But 1 Corinthians goes on, "it rejoices in truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres? Love never fails." Interestingly, enough the movies sometimes show these qualities, sometimes they show other sides of selfish love.

Riding in Cars with Boys - a movie about a mother who is selfish. She puts herself over her son on a regular basis. As you watch this movie, you see it on a regular basis, but you also realize that her life changes drastically because she chose to have her son and she even realizes that she is not a perfect mom. We see examples of forgiveness in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. We watch as a daughter struggles to understand and eventually forgive her mother. A woman who tried to make life good for her kids, but in truth never really recovered from the death of her first love and who suffered through her own abusive relationship with her parents.

We also see examples of how people confuse lust for love, and sex for intimacy. Look at About Last Night - a movie about a couple trying to make a relationship from a one night stand. Another good example of how lust can be confused for love is also Billy - the saxophone player in St. Elmo's Fire. Billy chooses to marry the young woman he conceived a child with because he wants to be with his son, however, we also see that he would rather still be in college, when life was good and easy than accept the responsibilities that come with being a parent. Continually in television and movies we see examples of lust/love and it's consequences. We even see examples of them in the Bible. The story of David's daughter Tamar who is raped by her brother who lusts for her. Sadly, during that time in the Bible we know that women who were raped were considered unclean and many men didn't want to marry a woman who had been "defiled".

Throughout time, movies, music and literature, we see characters struggling with life, love, and other mysteries and interestingly enough we see in the Bible to perfect example of true love. Love that comes with no strings attached - it is a free gift. We see Christ's examples of what love really is every time he heals the sick, snuggles a child, talks to the people as he tries to share with them the message that the ultimate sacrifice is on it's way. It is in those moments when he tells the man who was lowered through the roof to go and sin no more or when he told the men who wished to stone the adulterous woman - "He who is without sin, he may cast the first stone." These are the moments where we see that Christ's love for us is unconditional and a gift. He loved us, not because we earned it, but because he just loved us for who we are and what he knows lies ahead for us. Even the men with leprosy see Christ's love not just in his healing, but in his compassion towards them in a time when those with leprosy were (and still are considered) outcasts in society.

Which love story is your favorite? What do you think love means? Do you agree with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 or do you prefer Hollywood's glamorized version of love? What would you like to see change about your definition of love?

I hope you all have a good week.

Love in Christ,


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