Last month I wrote a post on Ephesians 5:33 and how the verse can be misused to say the Bible teaches husbands primarily need respect while wives primarily need love. The preacher I’d recently heard then presented this as the only biblical model for marriage. “Some people can’t accept this teaching,” he said, “but it’s in God’s word.” (It’s not what the verse really means when you read the whole passage in context, as you can see here: Men Need Love And Women Need Respect.)
In response to a link to the post on Twitter one person tweeted, “the point of this is when women show respect, the man feels loved & in turn loves. Causing women to show love and the Man respect.”
I’ve heard that before. I reject it.
I don’t reject it because it never happens that way. I reject it because the Bible is not a set of formulaic principles and, even more, love is not a formula. Do people really expect a religion that teaches “If she respects me, that will prompt me to love her” and “If he doesn’t see my respect as love, he is not a godly man” to be considered a faith of good news?
Love can take many forms, but it is never formulaic.
It’s Love that Makes it Love
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13.)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8.)
Love with compassion
Love with respect
Love with enthusiasm
Love with grace
Love with laughter
Love with tears
Love with words
Love with deeds
But it’s not the compassion, respect, enthusiasm, grace, laughter, tears, words or deeds that makes it love.
It’s love that makes it love.