Our culture often misunderstands love. Most of us look through a metaphorical windshield with a thick fog in front of us when it comes to love. Our visibility is dim, and we swerve around in life, trying to stay on the path but veering to the right and then the left. We need the fog cleared so we can make the right decisions and be positioned for what God has for us in the next season of life. How do we do that? We have a biblical perspective of love and marriage.
For Those in Your 20s and 30s
If you are in your 20s and 30s, you are making major life decisions right now. By the time you are 35 years old, you will have made 85% of life’s most significant decisions. Historically, most people are married or plan to get married (seriously dating) by 30, yet divorce rates are increasing. There’s a problem here—there is no “training” to love well and have a successful marriage in the places we tend to go to get answers.
The truth is the classes you take in college, the training you receive on the job, the movies you watch—none of that prepares you for how to do love and marriage. You need a biblical perspective of love and marriage. God’s Word is the best way to prepare you for navigating this part of adult life.
Where Do You Get Your Information About Love and Marriage?
Marriage is one of the most important decisions you could ever make in life, second to deciding to follow Jesus. The decision you make regarding marriage is critical.
You've heard that you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. When you are in your 20s and 30s, you are poised to pick your family. And so, you need wisdom and understanding about what love is.
You need to know where you’re headed, who you are, and how to make wise choices, namely in love, dating, and marriage. And as it’s been mentioned, having a biblical perspective on love and marriage is the key to making a choice that will bless you in the next stage of life.
No one wants to live a life of regret. So then, let’s take time to get real and discover…
- What love isn’t
- What love is
- What God has to say about love and marriage
Jesus spoke in a way that superseded marriage. He spoke about how to love universally—in any relationship. He gave His followers a higher standard for loving others.
In John 13, Jesus is with the disciples. He says in verses 34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The disciples might have thought, “Yeah, we know. We are to love each other. This is nothing new.” But Jesus wanted them to understand love at a deeper level. He wanted them to see the biblical perspective of love, a heavenly view of what it truly means to love one another.
Sometimes the best way to understand what something is, is to understand what something isn’t…
What Love Isn’t
- “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”—Proverbs 28:26
Love is not a feeling. It is so much more. We can “feel” overwhelmed with “good feelings” and think this is love, and all the while, the relationship can have no substance at all.
You might even know something isn’t “right,” but at the same time, it “feels right.” These feelings–the push and pull–twist your mind. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, reported in one study that 95% of our decisions are based on emotions. In other words, whatever we feel, we act according to the feeling. This obviously has dangerous consequences.
Feelings are strong. God gives them to us for a reason. Feelings are real, but they aren’t always reliable. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean that it is right.
We are told love is all about satisfaction and excitement in our society.
But a biblical perspective of love shows you that love is not…
A false understanding of love makes it incredibly difficult for young people to navigate life. It’s like that fog that covers your windshield. You can’t see clearly through it to make a decision that will take you further down your path. Instead, you drive off the road and into a ditch–stuck and unable to get out.
Fortunately, the Word of God can rightly divide truth from lies and reveal the biblical perspective of love to us, making it possible to see clearly and get unstuck if you are in a ditch.
What Love Is
- “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-7
What isn’t listed in the passage above? Feelings. Rather it is a list of verb after verb after verb. This is part of the Apostle Paul’s letter he wrote to the church in Corinth, an ancient city in Greece. He was talking to a group of mixed company: old and young, married and single, those with children and without, rich and poor. He wanted them to know that this is the type of love that should mark the life of a Christ-follower.
This biblical perspective of love should flow through all relationships, including marriage.
- Is longsuffering
- Is kind
- Is not jealous
- Is not prideful
- Is not dishonoring
- Is not self-seeking
- Is not easily angered
- Does not keep a record of right or wrong
- Rejoices in truth
- Always protects
- Always trusts
- Always hopes
- Always persevered
Love is an action—a verb rather than a noun (feeling). So, if you are in a dating relationship with someone, look at how they walk, not just how they talk. How does this person live their life?
The words “suffers long” also means patient. Love is patient, therefore, do not rush it. Many of you might feel you need to hurry up and marry someone as if the clock is ticking. But don’t marry someone based on how they make you feel. Look at their life and see if there is evidence of spiritual fruit: love (which we’ve defined above), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (See Galatians 5:22-23).
What Does God Say About Love and Marriage
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are my disciples.” To be a disciple means you follow Him and apply what He is teaching. In other words, Jesus says, “This type of love—this believing, forgiving, giving-a-second-chance, longsuffering love—this type of love is to mark your life.”
Let’s be clear about what God says regarding love… the biblical perspective of love is sacrificial. In John 13, Jesus tries to help the disciples get a picture of a new standard for love. He even displays this new standard for love by washing their feet.
He told them…
- “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”—John 15:13
The following day they would watch Jesus sacrificially give His life on the cross.
Want to Love How God Has Called You to Love?
If you want to love the way God calls you to love in marriage or any relationship, there has to be a sacrifice. This is the new version of love—laying down your life. When you love the way God calls you to, it will improve…
- Your decision-making ability
- The way that you pursue romantic relationships
- The way that you pursue work relationships
- The way that you pursue friendship relationships
- The way you treat and interact with your family, neighbors, and friends
So, are you a loving person? Are you a sacrificing person? Ask God to reveal this type of love to you.
The greatest gift that you can give your current or future relationship is a decision to die to yourself daily.