Happy Valentine's Day -- Celebrating True Love in Marriage

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  February 14, 2015

            It is one of the most popular wedding scriptures, and for good reason. In the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, Paul writes to the church about love. Appropriately, what would a wedding be without some acknowledgment of the role love plays in marriage? There are a couple of problems, however. First, not all marriages know the love of which Paul speaks in this text and second, to limit this chapter of love to only the love shared in a marriage, discounts the broad application of God’s amazing gift of love.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Although this text is frequently, and quite appropriately, used in a wedding context, Paul was not writing only to couples standing at the wedding altar. Paul was writing to a church embroiled in conflict, division, and bitter disputes. Members of the church were dividing themselves into opposing groups over the proper function of the church. They created idolatrous loyalties based on theological interpretations of Christ’s ministry, charismatic leadership within the church, and specific methods of expressing Christian worship.

To this divided church family, Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that they are missing the point. They believe their ability to control, understand, and regulate others in the church were building a better church. Instead, Paul boldly preaches, it is only love—God’s agape, holy and unconditional love—that builds up the church. More to the point, without God’s love there can be no church.
That same love which builds up a church will also build a solid marriage. Frequently, society limits marital love to the physical expressions of love that are very much a part of a healthy marriage. Yet, the love Paul references in 1 Corinthians is a completely different love. It is God’s agape love!

This is the same love Jesus commands us to have in John 13:34 when he says we are to love one another as Jesus loves us. This is also the same love Ephesians 5:25 and Colossians 3:19. Here God calls for husbands to love their wives with the same love Christ holds for the church—a love that is sacrificial, self-giving, and devoted to empowering her to greatness.
Look again at Paul’s poetic words regarding love and consider what he explicitly says is not love. Envy, arrogance, boastfulness, rudeness, selfishness, resentment, irritability, and criticism cannot coexist with love. Tragically, there are many relationships where these negative characteristics dominate much of the imagined love the couples share. At best, they may find some degree of physical intimacy, but when it comes to God’s unconditional and sacrificial love, the marriage comes up horribly empty.

Today is the day to reclaim true love—God’s love—in marriage. Whether you are contemplating marriage, or celebrating one of many Valentine’s Days with your beloved spouse; whether you have found blessed success and longevity in marriage or gone through the pain of broken marriages and divorce; today is the day. Reclaim God’s love in your marriage. Let the love of God build your marriage in the beautiful and powerful ways that God alone can do. Be intentional about loving your spouse with the Christ in your heart and let your marriage find the rich blessing God truly wants for you and that one special person who said to you, “I do!”