Ephesians 5:25: Husbands love your wives
Why do we love? One physicist gives us the evolutionary perspective, ‘Biologically, love is a powerful neurological condition like hunger or thirst, only more permanent. We talk about love being blind or unconditional, in the sense that we have no control over it. But then, that is not so surprising since love is basically chemistry. While lust is a temporary passionate sexual desire involving the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and oestrogen, in true love, or attachment and bonding, the brain can release a whole set of chemicals: pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. However, from an evolutionary perspective, love can be viewed as a survival tool – a mechanism we have evolved to promote long-term relationships, mutual defence and parental support of children and to promote feelings of safety and security.’ Evolution teaches us that love is not essential to our humanity but an evolved necessity for survival; Christianity teaches that love, and especially marital love is part of our make up because we are made in God’s image, and God is love, and we are made for marriage.
‘What is love?’ was the most google searched phrase in 2012 and reveals to us that our generation is ignorant to what love is. The rising divorce rate is another testimony to the universal inability of this generation to define love. The definition of love that most people have is totally ignorant. Today, because of the media driven romance culture we live in love is perceived as an emotion but not also as commitment. Real love does not sell movie tickets and keep audiences rooted to their seats and coming back for more. No one would go to a movie about a 60 year marriage as the many boring routines, unemotional interactions, regular small sacrifices, and the hum drum enduring commitment yields a real achievement of 60 years of marriage. Love without commitment is nothing more than obsession or infatuation. Commitment without passion is drudgery. True love is a life-long commitment in marriage that offers protection for emotions to ebb and flow and an environment for their nurture.
This naiveté has led to love having the same shelf life as the honeymoon stage of any relationship. The initial spurt of attraction and emotion, the part portrayed in movies, and can have the effect of heady drugs is equated with love. This means that when your spouse starts to get older, when their faults make your life uncomfortable, when those character traits that attracted you now repel you, and that initial cocktail of intoxicating emotion wanes you will think that you are no longer in love.
Love in our culture has become sexualized. Sexual intimacy is no longer a gift of service to your spouse but a demand that dominates the foreground of marriage. In our narcissistic porn obsessed culture sexual intimacy is no longer one of the many ways we show love but nearly equated with love itself. 70% of marriages are failing because of failure in the sexual relationship. Sexual compatibility is now on the pre-marriage check list of modern couples. Instead of being something that a couple can grow in throughout their marriage sexual competency is an entrance exam. This is just another way where pleasure and selfishness have redefined love and marriage.
Love is no longer defined in terms of grace either. ‘If you don’t give to me then I won’t give to you.’ Love has become conditional. Marriage is sought as a way of bettering yourself and not another and so divorce is an easy ejection seat if you finds all your needs are not being met.
All of these definitions of love are shown to be bankrupt as we look at how Paul defines love in marriage in Ephesians 5:25, ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ Today we will allow Paul to define and describe love as we seek to remind ourselves what love is.