Thursday, February 14, 2013

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Today being Valentine’s Day, it seemed appropriate to write something about love. (Not that I’m an expert or anything – although I highly recommend it.)

The question is, what is love – really?

According to the media, entertainment industry, even our nation’s evolving culture, love is all about feeling. Something you fall into or fall out of, depending on your mood, the time of day, or the person you’re with at the moment.

Shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” showcase a couple dozen attractive women (or men) throwing themselves at a willing member of the opposite sex. Everyone “falls in love” countless times during the progressing episodes in the series. If someone catches your eye and you feel a pleasant tingling in your “naughty bits” (as classical singer Katherine Jenkins termed it on “Dancing With the Stars”), you most definitely must be in love.

Of course, this idea’s hardly new. Years ago the TV sitcom “The Love Boat” (I called it “The Lust Boat”) assembled sexy-looking singles and over the course of a several-day cruise, many of them found “love.”

But is that what true love is all about – “You look good, you make me feel good, therefore I love you”?

Years ago I was a newspaper editor in Tomball, Texas. (If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a town about 30 miles north of Houston. Its name actually came from a fellow named Tom Ball.) Anyway, I joined the local Rotary Club to connect with some of the community’s movers and shakers.

One of the members – moving, but no longer doing much shaking – was a engaging old guy named Jimmy Tanner. He was Rotary’s self-proclaimed poet laureate, and every couple of weeks or so he’d regale us with a brief recitation of “poemtry.” One he offered frequently fits Valentine’s Day. According to Jimmy:

A song is not a song until it’s sung;
A bell is not a bell until it’s rung.
Now love wasn’t given in your heart to stay –
For love isn’t love ‘til you give it away.

There’s a lot of wisdom in those few words. Contrary to the prevailing notion that love is something you get, love should be something you give. I suppose that’s why 1 Corinthians 13 is so popular at marriage ceremonies, when idealistic notions of happily-ever-after momentarily overshadow the harsh realities of two becoming one.

The passage talks about love being patient and kind, not envious, boastful, prideful, rude, self-seeking, easily angered or keeping a record of wrongs. ”Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth,” it says. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Elsewhere the Bible instructs, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). What? Give yourself up? How restrictive; how intolerant! “Isn’t love supposed to be all about memy wants, my needs, my happiness?”

Apparently not, according to the Scriptures. Otherwise it wouldn’t declare, “For God so loved that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

That, it seems to me, is what love is – really.

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