What is Love?

With today being February 14th and Valentines Day we see heart shaped everything all around us.  Heart shaped biscuits (thanks Bojangles), heart shaped Reeses Peanut Butter candies, and who can forget the heart shaped donuts (thanks for that sugary delight Krispy Kreme). With all that heart shaped goodness it is a wonder that we all don’t have heart problems. Yet, I digress. With today being Valentines day it is natural to think about love. The question is ‘What is Love’?

Is love about being shot with an arrow by some sort of fat winged baby? We say that we are love struck where we have an infatuation with another person. Maybe you find yourself thinking about them all the time or you find your heart races and your palms get sweaty when you get near that particular person. Is this love? This MAY be the infantile beginnings of ‘love’, but can not and must not be classified as love.

Is love about raging emotions and passions? This is the ‘love’ we see in movies and TV shows. This is the ‘love’ of soap operas. This is a ‘love’ that is primarily physical. Yet is this truly love? Is love truly as fleeting as emotions and passions of here one day and gone the next? Is this love? While a romantic love will and must include emotions and passions, emotions and passion in and of themselves is not love. It is not love because love is greater than something fleeting. True love has resiliency. I always makes me sad when I hear a marriage is broken because a member of the couple says, “I feel out of love with ______.” If love is more, if love is greater, and if love has resiliency then raging emotions and passions can not be love. Further, raging emotions and passions can not be love because these raging emotions and passions are self motivated. Yes these emotions and passions are directed at another individual, yet it starts and finishes with what “I want” and what “I need”. It is self-centered not other-centered. True love must be other-centered. In and of it’s self this ‘love’ in reality is simply lust.

What is love? True love grows with the couple. While there will be certain things in love that will remain, true love will grown and shift through the seasons of time. As a pastor who counsels with couples one of the things I run into from time to time is the false expectancy that the feeling of love will remain the same throughout the life of the relationship. Yet in reality that puppy love will shift to a young love, and that love will shift to another level of love. We all wish that we could have 50+ years of marriage where we remained in the honeymoon phase, yet this is simply not the case and to have this expectancy leads to frustration and ultimately failure.

Love focuses on giving not taking. When love becomes self-centered it ceases to be love. Therefore love must be other-centered. If I’m focused on loving my wife and wanting the best for my wife and she is focused on loving me and wanting the best for me, this results in a happy, successful and fulfilling marriage. When my wife is focused on me, while I am focused on my wants, this will lead to things going awry and unfulfilling. That is one of the funny things about love and marriage: when each is focused on giving more, then each will receive more than they otherwise would have.

Love is that couple who has been married for 50 years holding hands in the park. Love is that spouse pushing the other in a wheel chair as they stay true even in the face of age or illness. Love is holding your loved ones hand as they breath their last. Love is working together as a couple even in the face of adversity: loss of job, a move, a poor financial decision, or a poor personal decision. Love is seeing your bride for the first time as they open the doors for them to walk down the aisle. Love is turning off the TV, putting down the phone, and grabbing those few minutes after the kids are in bed to talk about the day.  Love is that engagement story, that you have told what seems to be a million times. “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. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8a NIV).”

Be Righteous: Marriage and Divorce

Here are my sermon notes from this morning. What do you think? What are your thoughts of marriage and divorce in today’s world?

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CPT: Jesus commands His followers to be righteous in their attitudes and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce.

CPS: We are to be righteous in our attitudes and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce.

Question: How are you to be righteous in your attitudes and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce?

Me/We

There is several things that are important in our lives. Second only behind love for our Lord is marriage and family. Yet, with the divorce rate hovering around 50% it is evident that the view of marriage and divorce is in flux. I submit to you that our culture doesn’t hold as high view of marriage and family as it once did, hence why we have so many alternatives to marriage and family today.

Personally I am a huge advocate for healthy marriages and hence healthy families. Further, it is my firm belief that the family unit is the building block for our culture and society. If the family unit crumbles so will our culture and society. That is how important marriage is in our lives and in our world.

How do you view marriage? What about divorce?

Let’s dig into what Jesus has to say about marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31-32.

God

As we open our Bibles up to Matthew 5:31-32 we find ourselves in the mist of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this section of the sermon Jesus is condemning the scribes and pharisees, and exhorting believers to be righteous. One such area that Jesus commands us to be righteous is in our attitudes and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce.

Read Matthew 5:31-32

We find that Jesus breaks with His teaching on a few of the 10 Commandments to focus on marriage and divorce.  In fact we find this quote in Deut. 24:1 but let’s read Deut 24:1-4

Read Deut 24:1-4 and discuss

From this teaching there became two major views on marriage and divorce. The first was advocated by Rabbi Shammai who took a hard line on divorce and advocated that the only cause for divorce was adultery. The second and most popular view as advocated by Rabbi Hillel who was very loose and had a wider interpretation when it came to marriage and divorce. In fact it was written that a husband could divorce his wife if she spoiled his dinner or as Rabbi Akiba stated, “Even if he found another fairer than she.”

It is this loose interpretation of divorce for any reason that the scribes and pharisees had adopted. The hardest part of the divorce was writing the certificate of divorce that went something like this: “Let this be to you from me a writ of divorce, a letter of release and a decree of dismissal, to permit you to be married to any man you desire.”

Yet, through all of this, this passage was grossly misinterpreted.  This passage isn’t a command to divorce or to establish grounds for divorce but to deal with adultery and to provide protection for women by mitigating the evil consequences of divorce, by allowing her to remarry.

It is through this misinterpretation of Deut 24 that Jesus tells you and I to be righteous in our attitude and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce. Notice with me verse 32. (Matthew 5:31-32)

-Divorce- “Send away”

-Except for- Exception clause

-Unchastity/Fornication/Sexual Immorality- AKA Adultery

-To divorce outside of this would be to compound the wickedness of sin and make both an adulterous.

-Why? Because any other cause of divorce would be an unjust cause.

You

How are you to be righteous in your attitudes and actions when it comes to marriage and divorce?

1. Have a Biblical view of marriage and divorce.

When it comes to marriage and divorce today there are four views.

    1. The hardline stance of no divorce for any reason.
    2. The loose stance and the opposite end of the spectrum is divorce for any reason at any time and remarriage.
    3. Divorce for certain reasons but no remarriage.
    4. Divorce for certain reasons with remarriage permitted under certain circumstances.

Yet, which of these views is the Biblical view?

Now to fully understand divorce we must first understand marriage.

Read and discuss Genesis 2:24– Created by God, 1 man and 1 woman, lifelong, oneness physically and spiritually.

In fact marriage is seen as hugely important. To illustrate this God used marriage to describe His love for us.

In Hosea we find the marriage of the prophet Hosea to the prostitute Gomer. Through all the unfaithfulness of Gomer Hosea fights for her and rescues her.

What about divorce?

Read and discuss Matthew 19:3-9

The penalty of adultery in the OT was death so divorce was an act of mercy and grace by the Lord that released the innocent party and allowed the guilty to live.

Read and discuss 1 Cor. 7:12-15

It is these two reasons that divorce is allowed by God because of man’s sinfulness, but God never commanded, endorsed, or blessed divorce. To be blunt reconciliation is always the first option.

Read Malachi 2:13-16

I have heard it said that the Lord led them to divorce their spouse. Really??? How can the Lord lead you to divorce when He states that He hates divorce.

Marriage is a God given blessing and must not be dissolved lightly.

Is remarriage an option, if there is a divorce? This is an area that I am coming to a different view point. I did hold to the view that divorce was allowed in the cases mentioned earlier but there is to be no remarriage for both the husband and wife. Yet, as I have dug deeper it has become clear that when divorce was allowed, remarriage was always assumed.

Further, if God permitted divorce rather than death as a merciful concession to man’s sinfulness, why would He not also permit remarriage, since remarriage would be perfectly allowable under the original law of death for the adulterer? After all, the purpose of divorce was to show mercy to the guilty party, not to sentence the innocent party to a life of loneliness and misery.

2. Be committed to a Biblical view of marriage and divorce.

3. What if I’m already divorced?

You ask, Keith, I’m already divorced what now? Maybe your divorce was not because of adultery or because an unbelieving spouse left you. What now, am I just up the creek?

My friend you are not up the creek because there is forgiveness and mercy found in the Lord. While I never advocate liberty to sin position because of forgiveness. It is true that in divorce situations there is forgiveness.

We

Marriage and family are important in our lives as individuals and as a society.  Let’s us in our attitudes and actions be Biblical when it comes to marriage and divorce.

Prayer

Invitation