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Posts Tagged ‘equally yoked’

Some would describe love as a powerful emotion, while others might claim that, “love is a choice” and to some degree, there is truth in both of those statements.  There are indeed strong emotions that accompany love, though I would submit that the feelings themselves do not constitute its substance.  Likewise, there is a conscious decision involved in entrusting our hearts to someone else’s care.  Though both of those elements are integral to the overall process, neither fully encapsulate the nature of love itself.  Ultimately, love is a relational dynamic that exists between two entities.

In western culture, we tend to gravitate toward the emotional end of the scale.  Often times, our concept of love is little more than a volume knob for our affection.  If it stirs up positive feelings, we say that we “like” it, but if it stirs up intensely positive emotions, we claim to “love” it.  But again, love amounts to more than just the magnitude of our feelings.

Often times the intense desire to be with someone is rooted in something other than love for them.  One can certainly be strongly attracted to another, but that would more rightly be characterized as lust.  Loneliness, or the fear of being alone can produce extreme emotions, just as hurt and insecurity can, but they rarely produce healthy, loving relationships.  More often, they result in unbalanced, emotionally manipulative, or co-dependent dynamics that are ultimately destructive. 

One of the byproducts of the sexual revolution is a quid-pro-quo aesthetic, where relationships are largely viewed as vehicles to get what we want out of life.  Instead of finding the value in a partner, we look for ways to leverage each other, both emotionally and practically.

We can love what someone brings to our life (e.g. stability, support, security, the feeling of being wanted…), without ever really loving them.  In such cases, that person becomes a tool for our pursuit of happiness.  Their job is to fulfill whatever role we assign them in our lives, but their value is in the results they produce.  If that diminishes, they can be replaced by someone who produces better results.  It’s like trading your phone in for a newer model.

Aside from the strong emotions involved, there are the mechanics of the relationship itself.  People can have genuine affection for one another, but divergent perspectives, value systems, and/or goals, which can create an almost constant discord.  It is said that opposites attract, but that doesn’t mean that they live happily ever after.  It is a rare relationship that can sustain that type of relentless conflict, and just because we possess strong feelings for someone doesn’t mean that the relationship can overcome it. 

I believe that this is why the scripture admonishes that spouses should be equally yoked.  In biblical times, a yoke was a rigid piece of wood.  If the oxen weren’t moving at the same pace, the faster one was carrying the entire load.  If they were moving in even slightly different directions, they were literally pulling against each other.  I would suggest that this passage is saying something more than simply Christians should only marry other Christians.

The Bible gives a very clear definition of what love is, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.(1Cor.13:4-7)” 

If you read those words slowly, and thoughtfully, they can be pretty intimidating.  Is this how the people we claim to love would describe our demeanor toward them?  For that matter, would any of us claim that these are characteristic of the “love” we profess to have? 

To that end, we like to rationalize that the love described in the scripture is really just God’s (agape) love, and that we simply possess some lower form of (Eros or Philo) love.  We further like to dissect it into categories like brotherly/sisterly love, and romantic love; and then blur the lines even further with statements like, “I love them, but I’m not in love with them…”. 

Ultimately, God takes these caveats away with the command to, “love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34)”.  The God who is love, specifically tells us what love is to Him, and then lets us know that He expects us to love one another that way.  He makes no provision for some lower form of affection or fascination, which is too often characterized by traits like selfishness, vanity, envy, manipulation, scorekeeping and destructiveness; all of which are so directly counter to His definition that they could not be considered a watered-down version of the same.

Considering that the Lord Himself boiled down the whole of the law to the quality of our love (for Him and for each other), and that He said that the way people will be able to distinguish His children was by the love they have for one another, our concept of what “love” is makes a huge difference.  Perhaps, our understanding of what love is can be enhanced by considering what it is not:

It’s Not Really Love

It’s not really love

just because I was stirred at the first sight of you

*

and

It’s not really love

simply because I like the way you make me feel

*

and

It’s not really love

just because you fill a void in my existence

*

and

It’s not really love

simply because I appreciate all that you’ve done for me

*

and

It’s not really love

just because I feel drawn to you

*

and

It’s not really love

simply because I like to think of you as mine

*

and

It’s not really love

just because I want what you bring to my life

*

no

It’s not really love

until it stops being about what I think I want or need

*

and

It starts being about who You are

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