God's Design for Love

I had the opportunity last evening to share with a group of officers and their wives about God's design for love within marriage.  I thought that since it was such a relevant topic, I'd share with you here a little of what I talked about.

God's Design for Love

The word "love" is so often misused.  Isn't it funny how we throw it around in everyday talk such as...

 "I LOVE chocolate."

"I LOVE to read."

"I LOVE sports." (By the way, I really don't, but some do.)

But what does the word love really mean?   What does it mean in marriage?

First of all, we have to look at what it doesn't mean.  Love doesn't allow for selfishness or pigitis in a marriage.  Recently, I was reading a book by Ed Young entitled, The 10 Commandments of Marriage.  The first commandment he lays out is, "Thou shalt not be a selfish pig!"  No pun intended. :)

Often in our marriages, we are no different than those old, stinky hogs that root around in the mud trying to please ourselves.  When chow time comes, we push everyone aside who doesn't cater to our immediate needs and desires.

We see a glimpse of this immature love when we're first dating.  All our minds can focus on is the one who has caught our attention, but what we're really saying is, "I love you because you make ME feel good.  You're meeting MY needs by liking me back."

The love God describes, however, is a deeper love - a sense of satisfaction and joy in meeting the needs of the other person without expecting anything in return.

"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..."
Second, true love seeks to build the relationship.  Think about the steps to building a fire.  Wood must be gathered, kindling has to be laid down.  You may need to add rolled up newspaper or other sources of burnable material.  The wood has to be stacked properly, and then the fire maintained.  If we get it going and then just walk away, the fire will soon die out.  In order to keep the fire lit and active, it takes constant time and attention.

So like our marriage.  Making time to spend with your spouse and fanning the flames of love is a MUST.  Often times, though, we take things for granted and allow outside distractions, careers, hobbies, etc., to consume all our time and energy.  Before we know it, the marriage has died out and we're left with a heap of coals.

"...it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

Third, no one wants to spend time with an insensitive person.  Insensitivity in marriage is a sure sign of pigitis.   It is our job in marriage to be sensitive to each other's needs.  No longer does the world revolve around me, but now we.  If my spouse is stressed or hurting over a particular situation, we, too, should be sensitive to his or her need.   Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:32 to "Be kind and compassionate to one another."  When we can show that compassion towards our spouse, that is displaying a love that God desires.

 "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Fourth, submission should not be an issue of pigheadedness.  I know that most women cringe when they hear that word, "submit."  Like it or not, it is biblical ladies.  However, it doesn't mean we become a door mat in the confines of our marriage.  In all reality, both the husband and the wife submit to one another.  She to him out of his authority as the God-ordained leader of her home, and he to her through seeking her input and advice in situations involving the the two of them and their family.  Though he ultimately has the final say, the husband has a duty to carefully weigh and consider his wife's thoughts and feelings over situations that may arise.  If he doesn't, and insists on his own way or the highway, then that is sheer pigheadedness, and vice versa.

 "Love never fails...When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 11

So what is the answer to pigitis in our marriage?  L O V E.

The love God designed for marriage consists of three components: Eros love, Philia love and Agape love.

Eros love is the "feelings love".  It's where we get our word erotic from.  That deep passionate, sexual love for our spouse is a good thing!  God created it to be a beautiful thing within the confines of marriage.  Just read Song of Solomon if you want a steamy look at what marriage love should be.

Philia love is the "friendship or affectionate love."  Ed Young says, "The best marriages in the world are those in which the partners not only 'fall in love' but choose one another as best friend."

Agape love is the "forever love."  God showed us agape love when He sacrificially gave Himself up for his bride the church.  This is the truest and most pure form of love.  We don't deserve it, but it is given to us freely without strings.  It's the strongest love that hold the marriage together through the ups and downs of life.

Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us specific instructions as husbands and wives, and as I was not only reading this passage, but looking up others, one major thing stood out to me:

Three times God tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, Col. 3:18 and 1 Pet. 3:1).  Three times God tells husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25, 5:28 and Col. 3:19).  They counterbalance each other. 

How can a wife submit to her husband unless he loves her unselfishly?  How can a husband love his wife unless she submits to and respects him?  When we are both doing our part, then the marriage works in harmony together.

In conclusion, we have a choice to either pattern our marriages after the skewed Hollywood version which leads to discontentment, frustration and pigitis, or we can pattern our marriage after God's design with His love pattern as our guide, leading to wholeness and joy.

I don't know about you, but I want God's design.  It just makes sense!