We live in a new day in our culture. Our government has made sweeping changes to the fabric of our nation. A lot has changed.
Our culture is obsessed with radical change all in the name of love, sex and marriage. From movies, romance novels, songs, poems, we have this fairy tale fantasy of “...and they lived happily ever after.” As if to say, when you find the right person, there are no issues! It’s happily ever after!
I love happily ever after movies. They make you feel good and yet they are so unrealistic. Happily ever after ignores the aging process, debt, doctor’s reports, unexpected tragedies, pain, deception, betrayal and the things that happen in real life.
Our cultural is looking for love but coming up empty, confused and numb. LOVE - the word has lost its meaning. It’s overused... misused... misunderstood. I’ll say, “I love my wife and kids. I love God. I love my country. I love that truck. I love Blue Bell Ice Cream.” I love a whole lot of different things in varying degrees of value.
Your view of love, sex and marriage have been formed through what you experienced and observed in your family of origin, the culture you grew up in and the view of how the world functions –all part of your worldview. If you are a follower of Jesus, there will be a lens that overlays all the others – God’s Revelation of Himself through His Word.
There are currently 7 billion people on earth. As a result, about how many opinions do you think there are on love, sex and marriage? Many times, we allow others to do the sifting and sorting for us, handing us our “opinions” in sound bites and slogans that can sound so right. But are they really? Some say: “That may be true for your but it’s not for me” ... “No one has the right to impose their morality on you.” Or most recently, “Love is love”. Those might make great sound bites but what do they mean?
If truth is defined by each of us then why should we believe that anything is true other than what we believe? Unless, there is an external standard to which we can measure our ideas and conclusions.
To resist these new definitions based on cultural standards is to be countercultural and perhaps to even be labeled as “being on the wrong side of history.” As followers of Jesus Christ we are held to a different standard all together. Because if God’s Word is a true and reliable revelation of Himself to man, then it will be True for all time, across all cultures and all political structures, regardless of differing opinions.
Our objective in this series is to look at love, sex and marriage within the objective context of Scripture. That will be our starting and ending point. We will use it as our plumb line.
This series is not intended to be a part of a cultural war to attempt to resurrect a Christian culture that is no longer in our land. It is a discipleship conversation about how to live in a world obsessed with love, sex, and marriage. What does that mean for followers of Jesus? How do we teach and train our children? How do we live our faith in this context and arena of life?
Let’s look at the word “love” as described in scripture. There are four major words for used for love in the original language of the Bible:
- Agape (self-sacrificial love such as a parent’s love for a child). Agape is the most common word for love in the New Testament, It occurs 259 times as a verb or noun. It’s the love that God demonstrated in sending Jesus to die for us.
- Phileo conveys the idea of emotional love. While Agape signifies the complete giving of love to another in self-sacrifice, Phileo emphasizes the affection, emotion and fondness one has for another. This word occurs 54 times in the New Testament.
- Stergo refers to the love of family. Stergo occurs once in the New Testament in Romans 12:10 directing for us to love and treasure each other as family.
- Eros is physical, sexual expression does not appear as a word in the Bible although the erotic love that it refers to is certainly present specifically in Song of Solomon between the lover and the beloved.
As followers of Jesus, we are to exercise all three kinds of love: agape, phileo and stergo. The fourth kind of love, eros is to be reserved as an expression of oneness and intimacy between a man and his wife.
We need agape love because some of the things that God requires of us are not fun or easy, but need to be done out of a sense of self-sacrificial love. We need to have phileo love because we need true friends to stand with us, people with whom we are emotionally connected (accountability). And we need to have stergo love between us, a deep family affection that comforts and helps us in connection with our spiritual family.
Is it more important to fall in love or to be loving? I heard a speaker say, “falling in love is easy, it requires a pulse. Staying in love requires more.” Love is more than an emotion, more than a feeling or an attraction. Love is a commitment. More pointedly – Love is a verb. It is more something you do as opposed to something you feel.
Love is a decision to do something in spite of how we feel. Our culture says, we fall in love. The Bible says we are to behave in love. In essence to make love a verb!