Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deciding to Love

Love and commitment are not the same thing.  In order for marriage to be what it ought to be, you need both. Commitment is based on a decision.  Love is much more complicated.
There are different kinds of love.  Some of them are more a matter of choice than others.  As Christians we choose to love good and hate evil — even if our affections are screaming the opposite. There are many times when you have to choose to love someone when your feelings do not incline you to do so.  Sometimes it happens that a man must choose to love his wife, though he doesn’t really feel like it.  If he is in this unfortunate situation, he ought by all means to choose to do right regardless of his feelings.  Perhaps he has to choose to forsake his mistress and love his wife.  It is right for him to do so, and it may be real love for his wife and kids that would induce him to do it — but it isn’t romance.
 You can choose to love your neighbor, to esteem another better than yourself, and to lay down your life for your wife.  These are love, but romance or “falling in love” is different.  You don’t decide to fall.  You just do.  You might decide to get close enough to fall — or decide not to — but falling in love is not a decision.
A man doesn't have to fall in love with a woman to marry her — but it is hard enough for him to obey Ephesians 5 even when he does.  Why make it harder? A woman doesn't want to hear, “I choose to love you.” What she wants to hear is, “I can’t help loving you.” Read the Song of Solomon and see if there is any deciding to love in there.
Anyone can choose to eat sauerkraut, but most folks can’t choose to love it as much as they do pizza.  You can decide what you do.  You can not decide what will thrill your heart.  You can choose to marry, and in a sense choose to love your wife.  You can also choose to take steps that will increase your enjoyment in every circumstance in life.  You can make choices that affect how you feel — but you can not directly choose your feelings.
      Romance is predominately feeling.  If you can decide it, you take the passion out of it, and it isn’t romance any more.  You could marry without it.  But why would you want to?  You may still have love if you did — the kind of love that can be decided, but that is a bare sort of love that should be reserved for those who have no hope of anything better. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Choice to Love

One of the biggest tricks of the devil is to differentiate between things that are the same and to equate things that are different. The saying Love is a Choice is open to such confusion. There is a sense in which it is true, and another in which it is not, and it is extremely important not to confuse the two.

The young person who is looking for a spouse and thinks he can choose to love any one who is convenient and available is a blatant fool, but the married person who doesn't choose to love his spouse is downright wicked. The things are entirely different. Single people should wait til they fall in love to marry. This will make the business of choosing to love your spouse a pleasure and give you a head start in performing all the duties of married life.

The man or woman who is already married has no business falling at all. You have already made your choice. Hopefully it was a suitable choice and you fell in love with the person you married, but regardless of the past, it is now your business to put up whatever walls are needed to keep from falling any which direction. You have to choose to love the one you have chosen.

If a married man or woman falls inwardly, you still have a moral obligation to choose to love your spouse. You may find that you do not have the power to choose to love in the same way and to the same degree as someone who unintentionally falls in love. Love is like that. Emotions are like that. People are like that. We can't always choose what we feel. But we can choose what we do, and a married person has an obligation to be faithful to his family no matter what he feels. This is love. It is not the wild, emotional kind of love that makes falling in love fun. It is the sober, faithful kind of love, that makes being married safe. It includes the commitment not only to give the bare outward duties of love but to nourish every proper emotion and to starve everything that goes against it. In this sense love is a choice.

Young people starting out and planning to marry ought to have this kind of commitment, but you don't want that to be all you have. You want your marriage to start with all the warmth of emotion that makes the journey of life delightful. A person can't choose to feel that with just anyone. Love of this kind is something that happens to you. It isn't chosen. It can be nourished or starved depending on the requirements of the circumstances, but it cannot be forced.