This is the first of three installments from a series I call The Three Loves. Though English has only one word for love, the Greeks had several- each one describing a different quality of love. Marriage is the only relationship that brings all of them together. In this article we’ll discuss the love that protects.
Behold the word love! For that word armies marched, fortunes were squandered, and perfectly normal men and women have made total fools of themselves, often in front of complete strangers. Preachers preach about it. Singers sing about it, in every possible language, and with every possible rhythm. It has inspired operas and rock songs, poems and graffiti, little notes and long novels.
Love has cured people and, some would say, killed others! Love composes the theme of thousands of movies and television shows. Yet much of our acting, singing, writing, and even some preaching, comes from confused and disappointed hearts.
Love and Marriage
In Fiddler on the Roof , a wonderful musical about a man of tradition and the pressures that threaten his traditions, Tevye, the husband, asks his wife, Golda, “Do you love me?”
Now, they have been married for twenty-five years, and this is the first time the subject has come up. You see, their marriage was arranged by their parents. But after some thought, they discovered that they really did love each other. Love was alive, though the word was never spoken. Hear their song here.
Love is the Power of Intimacy
Intimacy is the unique closeness that makes a marriage truly fulfilling. Can we develop the kind of intimacy a marriage needs without love? Never. For love, correctly understood, is the substance of all true intimacy.
The Love Wall
Marriage has a unique potential for intimacy. It is the only relationship referred to as “one flesh” in the Bible. (See Genesis 2:24) You can’t get much closer than that. However, intimacy needs protection, and that is what this love provides. The love wall has little to do with attraction, or liking, or even sex. It is love expressed in decisions- a commitment to one another, whatever may come.
True lovers value their marriage, so they want to protect it. “We want a wall around this relationship. Let’s build it with promises, and keep it strong through unselfish sacrifice. Let’s promise that nothing, and no one, will ever come between us.”
“That’s not very romantic,” some of my readers might think. Exactly. Romance is important to marriage. But we live in an age that has made romance a god. Romance adds spice to marriage, but only decisive, committed love sustains it.
What about all the couples who have taken such vows and still have unhealthy marriages? Marriage vows do not create some kind of magical force field around a couple. This isn’t Star Trek we’re talking about. Vows alone can never prevent marital failure, because promises mean nothing without actions. A man and woman must live their vows.
A favorite song writer of mine, Don Francisco, describes this dedication with powerful words:
So you say you can’t take it, the price is too high
The feelings have gone; it seems the river’s run dry.
You never imagined it could turn out so rough,
You give and give and give and still it’s never enough.
Your emotions have vanished that once held a thrill.
You wonder if love could be alive in you still.
But that ring on your finger was put there to stay,
And you’ll never forget the word you promised that day.
Jesus didn’t die for you because it was fun.
He hung there for love because it had to be done.
And in spite of the anguish His work was fulfilled,
Because love is not a feeling, It’s an act of your will.
Now I know it isn’t easy when you’re trying to stand,
And Satan’s throwing everything that’s at his command.
But Jesus is faithful, His promise is true,
And whatever He asks He gives the power to do.
(Love Is Not a Feeling, by Don Francisco
Used by permission of Brentwood Publishers.)
You Will Have What You Build
Which marriage do you want to have? One that lasts for a lifetime or one that is destroyed by broken promises? Within the protection of promises made and kept, intimacy grows securely and authentically. Keep your promises and the love wall will stay strong.