Redefining Love and Marriage
by Carlton Foster – December 21, 2019
I just listened to two presentations on love and marriage and realized that society trained us to believe these definitions for centuries. However, with all this information, we are still falling short of the requirements to fulfill the concept of love and marriage meaningfully. Therefore, the task of redefining love is not to give it a different definition but to outline the original meaning of love and why God instituted marriage.
What is love? It is the force of giving and supplying resources for needed consumption. This statement is the broad definition of love, and any reference to love must start with this definition. This giving force – love, is manifested in all aspects of God and the world. In Genesis 1, the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The creation of the earth was from the force of love that God has for us, so he gave us a planet that continues to supply us with resources. The Bible continues to say, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” The earth became a giving force of resources and therefore maintained the love that came forth from God.
Love is when a person, animal, plant, or movement continues to supply resources for consumption without expecting anything in return; it is not for profit. The resources do not necessarily have to be material things; resources can be words of affirmation or safety provisions. Anything that serves as an acceptable means of satisfying a need (or want) is a resource. The willing consumption of these resources shows the effect of the force of love. This consumption helps a necessity, and the definition of love is fully met when all these aspects are presented. To guard against the misuse of love, one or two of these things can be given, but if something is missing, then love is manipulated and is misused.
John 3:16 demonstrated these aspects, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus said, with this same love, we should demonstrate the same to God. He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This statement is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37)”
What are the aspects of genuine love? First, there must be a supply of resources without any expectation of reward; next, the help must satisfy a need and be consumable; then, the recipients must be confident that the resources served their purposes. All these together constitute the thing we call love. Over the years, scholars gave us all kinds of definitions; some have good intentions but missed some key components. Others manipulated aspects of love for ulterior motives. So what is not love?
Expecting to receive resources without providing for those resources is not love; having the notation of entitlement is also not love! Providing resources that are not needed is not love (it is like giving fuel to an unwanted fire). Also, providing resources to a recipient who hates your help is not love. Jesus confirmed this when he said, “Don’t waste what is holy on unholy people. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. Matthew 7:6 (NLT)” Removing needed resources for vindictiveness is not loved; asking the question “What have you done for me lately?” or “What’s in it for me?” is not love! Providing resources for ulterior motives – such as for-profit or reciprocal benefit is not love. Most people assess an action or explanation as not love when they don’t feel that feeling you felt when you think the person loves you. Irrespective of the giver’s motives, if the recipient feels good about the gift, they perceive that this is love, but that is not love because the giver’s motive could be misconstrued. Most time, the assessment is left up to the recipient and can lead to disappointments. Love is not any single part of the three aspects of love, but all three factors have to be presented for love to be manifested. For this reason, we are still hearing presentations on ‘love.’ We need to redefine our understanding of true love. We should see that when the giver supplies these required resources, which are accepted with gratitude by the recipient, then love is manifested.
One of the main reasons why God instituted marriage was for humans to practice the essence of love. Marriage should create families where they can easily facilitate the aspects of loving relationships. Other associations than a family also exist for love to be practiced – such as gatherings (reunions, parties, ceremonies, etc.) As for animals, they too have families and associations where they can practice and facilitate the aspects of love. Our world is a continuous activity of giving and receiving. The earth provides us resources so that the recipients can enjoy their existence. Humans should give because of love and not because of survival. When we harbor and hoard resources for our selfish existence and survival, we are protesting against the power of love. Jesus told us a story, “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:16-21 NLT).”
Also, the Evil one purposefully sets up others to misrepresent the truth about love. Remember that the continuous supply of needed resources and the acceptance with gratitude of those resources by the recipient is the manifestation of love? Well, let us look at the opposite but similar process. What if a person or system continues to supply or feed you unacceptable resources such as neglect, discrimination, rebukes, discord, abuse, or hatred? The recipient will likewise continue to refuse those resources. This action is the opposite to love! The recipient will hide from the giver and seek to escape the hostile environment. These manifestations are the forces that contradict the definition of true love.
In summary, for our godly roles to be realized here on earth, we must be driven by God’s will for our lives and become resourceful and give without ulterior motives; be grateful and accept the blessings that God has provided for us. Abstain from evil manifestations that present their actions as love but are only deceptions. Also, getting married is not what you can get, but what you can provide and give to the family. Parents give to babies without hesitation, so it is with love in general. So become resourceful, so you can supply the needs of others and realize God’s will for your life on this earth.