What is Love?

Today I was thinking about love. I asked my daughter, Tamasin, what the word “love” means, and also checked the Oxford Dictionaries Online (both English and American). Let’s just say my daughter got it right and not those academics at Oxford!

The dictionaries both defined love simply as “an intense feeling of deep affection” – which surprised me more than it perhaps should. My daughter is already well indoctrinated in a godly Christian worldview and defined love very differently:

“Love is when you care for someone and are kind to them.”
The dictionary definition of love is just plain wrong. Love is not an emotion on thelevel of happiness, sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. When asked if love is a feeling, my daughter immediately answered:

“Love is not a feeling. It’s a decision.”
Love is a DOING word. It requires choices. Hard choices, sometimes. It’s about sacrifice. It’s about faithfulness. It requires commitment. It sometimes hurts and doesn’t feel so good. As Daniel Bedingfield said in a song, Nothing hurts like love, nothing causes your heart so much pain.”

People who think love is a feeling will never succeed in marriage. They will never succeed in friendship. They will be likely to fail in most things they set their hands to.

But what does the world know of the kind of love that the Bible defines anyway? Should it surprise me that the dictionary definition is so far removed from what Paul says in 1 Corinthians? I wonder if older dictionaries ever acknowledged the doing side of love? Is this dangerous limitation of the English concept of love a modern phenomenon? Brush off those old dictionaries on your shelf and let me know . . . .

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

I preached a sermon on this later in the month.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!