When my husband and I were dating, we went to a Christian concert by Sanctus Real. One of their songs “Don’t Give Up on Love” really stuck out to me that night. Before singing, the lead singer came out and spoke for a little bit about the high divorce rate and the fact that he sees so many people around him just giving up. When they started singing, the lyrics to the song were right on target with what he said. You can listen to it in the video below.
According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of married couples in the United States divorce (APA, 2018). I’ve experienced this in my own life with a close family member getting divorced, saying “I never really loved him.” This surprised me, because it definitely looked like she did at the wedding. But I guess I have to agree with her because if that’s the reason she’s getting divorced, then she never really knew what love was to begin with.
You see, something my husband and I learned well before we ever got married is that love is not what most people today see it as. It is not about emotions or pleasure. It’s not a feeling. Love is a choice. 1 Corinthians 13 is often recited at weddings and explains what love is well.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When Jesus looked at the broken and hurting in this world, he chose to love them. Others chose to look away or pass them by, but Jesus chose to love them and heal them. He also chose to love sinners, people that the religious leaders of his day would not even associate with. And when it came to the end of his ministry, Jesus chose to love us, to sacrifice himself for us. That is what love is all about: caring for someone else over yourself. Jesus put us first before his own life when he died on the cross. If he chose to do that for us, how can we not choose to love those around us?
I am not just talking about spouses, but all of our relationships with others. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor and goes on to clarify that everyone in this world with us is our neighbor. Are we patient with others? Do we put them first, or are we self-seeking? Do we always persevere in loving them, even when it is difficult?
I do realize that some relationships are unhealthy and that some people are better loved and prayed for from a distance. All divorce has negative consequences, but some divorce is allowed by God in the bible, especially in cases of infidelity. Even Joseph, a righteous man, was planning to divorce Mary quietly when he found out that she was pregnant with Jesus (Matthew 1:19). But if everyone who got married was truly loving with the love described in the bible, I believe that there would be no more divorce. So much pain and suffering is caused by people seeking their own happiness over that of others. How much better would this world be if everyone put the others first and loved the way that Jesus loved?
During this advent season, consider the description of love in Corinthians and how well your relationships match up. Pick one area of love that you would like to work on. Our love may not be perfect until we reach heaven, but we can still strive to follow after Jesus in the way that we love those around us.
American Psychological Association (2018). Marriage and divorce. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/