When most people think of love, they think of a feeling they get from another person. Think of the way a character in the last romantic comedy you watched described their love for another. Most likely they said something like, “I know it’s crazy but it just feels right.” Or maybe they expressed it by saying “I can’t explain it, but I know I am in love with them.” Or maybe, just maybe they used the often quoted line, “You complete me”. While that stuff makes for good movies, the love pictured by those characters is what we call romantic or erotic love. While romantic or erotic love is not necessarily wrong, we all want a little romance in our lives, building our relationship on romantic or erotic love doesn’t usually make for a marriage that lasts the ages.
Romantic or Erotic Loves Focus
Generally speaking, romantic or erotic love is more concerned with how we benefit from a relationship than the benefits of another. Romantic or erotic love, then, is not other-focused but self-focused. When someone expresses love from a romantic or erotic perspective, what they are really saying is either that that person makes me feel good sexually or personally, or they believe that person is the best partner to help them fulfill their financial or personal goals. But will that type of love last?
Will it Last?
Even with the advent of plastic surgery, gym memberships, and magic creams looks fade. Personal and financial goals can change or go unmet. When change happens, or needs go unmet, feelings usually follow suit and change as well. If your relationship is built strictly on feelings, what are you going to do when your feelings change? Are you going to stick it out or move on? I believe our current divorce rate answers that question for us. Over half of all marriages now end in divorce. Could it be that many of those were built on romantic or erotic love?
The Love that Lasts
The love that lasts is the love Paul speaks of in Colossians 3 when he says,
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)
The love Paul calls husbands to have for their wives isn’t romantic or erotic love, but agape love. Paul’s command doesn’t necessarily negate romantic love. In other words, a little romance isn’t a bad thing, it just shouldn’t be the primary thing. So husbands don’t use this as an excuse to quit dating or romancing your wife.
Do, however, realize that the love Paul is talking about is much deeper than surface level attraction or romantic gestures meant to conjure up certain feelings. The love mentioned in Colossians 3 is a bedrock or foundational type of love. It is agape love. Agape love is a self-sacrificial love. It is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that seeks what is best for the other person rather than what’s best for self. That is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife. It is the type love that sticks around when needs go unmet and feelings change. It is the type of love that lasts.
Question for Reflection
- What is the love that is primarily active in your current relationship? Is it me-centered or other-centered?
Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love