Love is Faithfulness, not Emotion

by Marshall St. John, pastor, Wayside Presb

I would like to offer a critique of Jan Silvious' article about having a successful marriage, called "Falling Out of Love," in the December, 2000, issue. This is a very bad article because it promotes a secular 20th century American view of marriage, and not a biblical view. No Scripture is quoted, only a bit of "psycho babble" from Dr. Richard Meier. This sort of teaching undermines rather than strengthens marriage.

In her article, Silvious repeatedly confuses true love with being "in love." She says that your marriage is in trouble if the emotional feeling of being in love is absent for very long, and that "if you have fallen out of love, pray for the Lord to rekindle your feelings for your spouse," and that these feelings are "the marriage bond."

Biblically speaking, love has little to do with a person's emotions. When the Bible says that God loves His children, it does not mean that He feels a certain way toward us. It means that He acts towards us with kindness, mercy and faithfulness. When the Bible says that Christ loves the church, it does not mean that He feels a particular emotion toward us, but that He acts toward His people with mercy, kindness and faithfulness, even at the cost of His life. Love is faithfulness in action, not emotion.

Likewise, when God commands husbands and wives to love each other, He is not commanding that we feel a particular emotion, that we be "in love," but that we act toward each other with respect, justice, mercy, forgiveness, submission and faithfulness. The Christian should never marry because he/she has fallen in love, which is just a pleasant emotional passion, and which comes and goes. Many couples have never been "in love," yet have had life-long satisfying marriages. This "being in love" nonsense is Western romanticism, and has nothing to do with Christian marriage. Christians who love each other with Christian love will indeed feel emotional warmth toward one another, as a by-product of their faithfulness. But concentrating on fixing how you feel toward your spouse is doomed to failure, and it is not God's way.