I had a close friend of mine come up to me in tears after church. He said that his wife said she did not love him anymore. He said that she fell out of love. She said that there was nothing else they could do but to divorce. What a tragedy. A marriage of 18 years disappears, just like that. All because his wife believed that she fell out of love.
I have heard the term “I fell in love” or “I fell out of love” but it seems to me that this is the wrong meaning for the word love. We can fall off a log or fall out of bed but falling out of love? I have never fallen out of love with my wife, my children or my friends. Where is that in the Bible? What about falling in love? I have fallen in a pond and I have fallen in the bathtub but I never did fall in love. Worship songs that sing about falling in love with Jesus are not biblically accurate in my opinion.
Would we fall out of love with our children? How about falling out of love with our mother or father? What about falling out of love with Christ? Conversely, if humans can fall out of love, is it possible for Jesus Christ fall out of love for us? Not possible! In time, I grew to love my wife when we were dating. Over the months, she did things for me and I tried to do things for her that displayed my affection for her and she for me. We grew closer together by the things that we did for each other and love was the result. I am not saying that we didn’t have romantic feelings but more than that, what she showed me by her actions was that she loved me in deed, not just in word or feelings.
The faulty use of the word love is that it is a feeling and not a verb. In other words, it’s not as much a feeling (a noun) as it is something displayed by actions (a verb). We need to review what Bible verses on love actually say what love is. Do we really think Christ fell in love with the idea of going to Calvary while sweating great drops of blood in the Garden? Was Jesus taking on the heinous sins of humanity for all time and suffering such agony that is beyond human comprehension because he fell in love with us? No. What we see is Jesus taking affirmative action in displaying His love but suffering for hours upon hours…by being separated from God the Father for the first time in all eternity. The latter may have been the most excruciating of all. In fact the word “excruciating” comes from the Latin “excruciare” or “curiare.” Some render it “crucis” or “crux.” The adjective meaning of excruciating is “out of intense or extreme agony.” Now do you still think Jesus relied on feelings that allowed Him to go to the cross? Remember Jesus prayed three times to have this cup removed. The actual physical act of Jesus going to the cross and dying in our place was the active form of love displayed. In fact, it was the greatest act of love ever displayed in all of eternity. So love is not a feeling but a choice…it is what you and I do and what Jesus did.
Perhaps the greatest exposition of love next to John 3:16 is written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. In this chapter you do not see love being described as a feeling but by active, moving choices. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4- 7 for yourself:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing.
The way men and women who are divorcing describe love we would have these verses read like this:
Love suffers long and is kind; when it feels like it.
Love does not envy; unless it is feeling cheated.
Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; unless it feels insubordinate to the other.
Love does not behave rudely; unless the party feels that they are only reacting to the way they have been treated.
Love does not seek its own; except when it feels deprived.
Love is not provoked; unless it feels that it is being unfairly treated.
Love thinks no evil; except where there is fault with the other party.
Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; with the exception of feeling that if they were cheated on then they have the right to do the same.
Love bears all things; except for a bad marriage and an imperfect spouse.
Love believes all things; unless there is suspicion to believe otherwise despite there being actual evidence.
Love hopes all things; unless the hope has faded and the love has departed.
And finally, love endures all things: except a spouse that works too much, neglects their mate, doesn’t spend enough time with the children, and never listens.
Sadly, we have reduced love to a feeling. Isn’t feeling the same thing we encounter when we get heartburn or sunburn or even something that others can hurt (like hurting our feelings)? Feelings are used as just cause to divorce someone although that party that does so can not remarry according to biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage. To divorce because someone falls out of love is inexcusable before God. It wrecks families, weakens both parties economically, wounds children for life and worst of all, the children of these families may repeat the same thing or just the opposite…not trust in the institution of marriage at all and have a greater risk of living together outside of marriage.
I have never done so many marital counseling's in all my life as I have done so far this year for the reasons of a spouse falling out of love with their mate. I feel like shouting "Stop it!" Christians who have the Holy Spirit, are being led by the Spirit, and are walking in the Spirit, should never have this happen at all...ever! So many believers have "I-itis" or have a "me-ology" where it's all about them. Sadly, Christians are divorcing more and more frequently over this very cause; I fell out of love or I don't love them anymore. Love is a choice of the will, not a feeling we are helpless victims of.
According to the Bible, love is what one does…not what one feels.
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible.