“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church….” (Ephesians 5:25).
In my resource files are a variety of folders which are filed alphabetically by subject. Thinking of today’s commentary, I happened to notice that the file captioned “LOVE” is nestled between the one captioned “LONELINESS” and the one on “MARRIAGE.” It is pretty true to life. Love is what it takes to turn loneliness into marriage. Question: Is love only a Western idea, a romantic notion which came from Europe and is embraced by only segments of civilization? Or is love a universal emotion, a deep-seated response of the heart which can make the mind grow weak?
For a long while, anthropologists felt that love was a romantic concept which came from Europe and wasn’t applicable to all civilizations the world over. That notion, however, is being debunked with solid scientific research which says love is a universal commodity, the glue which holds relationships together, whether the marriage is arranged to keep family fortunes together, or boy meets girl and falls in love.
An extensive research project took place in some 166 different cultures in almost as many countries, and the findings of that research indicates that romantic love is prevalent in at least 147 of the 166 cultures, and in the 19 where it was not detected, according to the authors of the study, the lack “probably reflects a deficiency of their study methods, not of local ardor.” (Newsweek, January 18, 1993, p. 60). Interesting!
Chalk another one up for scientific research! Scientists confirmed what parents have known for centuries: When the spark of love ignites in the breast of a young person, life will never be the same.
Another finding of the study indicated that in polygamous cultures, where a husband had more than one wife, almost always there was one which was special, one whom he really loved. For example, among the polygamous farmers of Kenya, “a man almost always married first for practical reasons. If he could afford more wives, he might then marry for romance.” One 80-year-old Kenyan spoke warmly of wife No. 4: “She was the wife of my heart…I could look at her and she at me, no words would pass, just a smile.”
It is that look, that indefinable smile, that something which makes the chemistry of love what it is. The world’s oldest textbook on marriage, the Bible, talks a great deal of love and its place in the relationship of a husband and wife. While some marriages in Old Testament days were arranged, there is no questioning the fact that by the time Paul wrote the epistles, he was certain that no matter how a couple came together, love—a deep commitment to care—was the glue that was not only possible but necessary to hold a relationship together.
In the New Testament, both husbands and wives are told to love each other. Paul says specifically, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word….” (Ephesians 5:25, 26). Again, when Paul wrote to Titus, a young man who was a pastor and overseer in the church, he instructed that older women were to teach “the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4). Whether or not romantic love was the spark which led to marriage, it is obvious that the spark of love can be ignited and love can become the chemistry that makes your relationship vibrant and meaningful.
In tennis, love means “nothing”—in marriage it means everything. It is God’s answer to the loneliness of the human heart and the door to meaningful relationships.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
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