February 12, 2018
Freelance writer for the Boston Globe, Meg Murphy, writing about love and marriage trends for young adults in the 21st Century, says that an unprecedented portion of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40, and 25% will never be married. This is compared to 90% of baby boomers and 82% of Gen Xer’s who were married before turning 40. Today the median age for a first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men. Her conclusion is that this change is a reflection of a rejection of traditional romance and marriage. The “modern” world provides new ways to find “love,” including online matchmaking and speed dating. But as we celebrate another Valentines Day, could true “love’ be in trouble? All of the cards, flowers, and gifts related to Valentine’s Day reflect the human desire for, and the pursuit of love. Love is the topic of countless movies and books, and permeates our society. When things are put into proper perspective, those we love should have priority over everything else, and over all of the activity and busyness that that occupies so much of our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with the cards, gifts and a special night out on Valentine’s Day, but if the gifts and dates are not accompanied by a daily practice of demonstrating love, they fall short of the human desire to receive true love.
The Bible describes the human pursuit of love in Proverbs 19:22, “What a person desires is unfailing love.” The word “desire” in this verse literally means, “to crave.” If you stop and think about it, it‘s not just romantic love that people pursue, it is an “unfailing or unconditional” love that is the deep desire of every human being, especially when considering a life commitment in marriage. Interestingly enough, this kind of love is mentioned many times in the Bible, but equally as interesting, it is not attributed to human beings one time in God’s Word. In the Bible, unfailing or unconditional love is only attributed to God. The definition of this “agape” or unconditional love sets a standard for love that is beyond our limited abilities. Agape love has been defined as, “love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taken. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest and best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.” This is a love that doesn’t keep track of the gifts we give or in response to what someone else does for us. It is love entirely without merit, given without any hope or expectation of anything in return. For husbands it’s why so often the selfless acts of helping around the house or an unexpected completion of a project mean more to our spouse than the roses or chocolates we patted ourselves on the back for bringing home. God’s “unfailing” love is an incredibly high standard that is beyond our ability to achieve. Maybe this is the explanation as to why there is an increasing number of young adults who disparage romance and marriage. They have never experienced “unconditional” love.
God gave each person this desire for unconditional love because He knew it would lead us back to Him. His love draws us to Him. Only we can stop God from reaching the deep and hidden parts within us that need Him most. God’s love for us goes beyond our love for our family and friends. His love is a sacrificing and selfless love. It is a love that shows itself in action. Romans 5:6-8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus loves us, not because we are attractive or share some interest with Him, but simply because He loves us. He made the ultimate sacrifice, giving up everything, all his glory, His very life, just to demonstrate that love to us. Ultimately this unconditional love, which is available to all people, leads to eternal life in heaven where every person, regardless of what they did in their life on earth, and regardless of their ethnic background, the color of their skin, or their gender, will be unconditionally and eternally loved by God. All of the racism, sexism, bigotry, prejudice, and feelings of superiority that exists, will not be present in heaven where God’s unconditional love will prevail.
God does not look at people the way we so often do, He looks at the heart. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,~ Galatians 3:28. Some people’s view of God is that He is anything but loving. Their idea of God is that he keeps them from having fun and enjoying life to its fullest, and if they don’t behave he will send them to hell. The truth is that God wants to save people, not send them to hell. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,~2 Peter 3:9. God sent His Son Jesus to save the world. So whoever believes in Him could have everlasting life. The bottom line is that God loves people. The greatest mistake a human being can make is to reject the love God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ. No one can come to God without Jesus. He is the key to eternal life, but even for those who reject Him, God still has love for them.
On this Valentines Day, maybe each of us should take the time to thank God for His unconditional love for us, and then put into practice the example He has given to us of how to genuinely love our Valentines.