Is it possible for couples to fall out of love? What is love? If is a feeling or is it something that you display by your actions?
Falling out of Love?
I don’t love him anymore. She 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 this 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 or in 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. I became best friends with my wife first and then my love for her began to grow and so I began to show it by my actions, just as she did to me. My love has grown over time and continues to grow today and has not diminished with time. Worship songs that sing about falling in love with Jesus are not biblically accurate in my opinion. In my opinion, any falling regarding Jesus should be that of falling on our faces before Him for He is most holy and worthy to be praised and worshiped. Our love for Jesus is revealed by our obedience to Him. Jesus said that “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15) showing that our love is displayed, not be feelings, but by our actions.
Love is a Verb
Time and time again I have heard that a spouse has fallen out of love but let me ask you this: 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 to 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 her for me. We grew closer together by the things that we did for each other and love was the result. It was not something that I fell into but something that the relationship grew into. I am not saying that we didn’t have romantic feelings for one another 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? What we see is Jesus taking affirmative action in displaying His love by suffering for hours upon hours on the cross and 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 word “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 (Luke 22:39-46). The actual physical act of Jesus going to the cross and dying in our place was an active form of love that was unlike anything ever done in all history. 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.
Biblical Description of Love
Perhaps the greatest exposition of love next to John 3:16 is 1 Corinthians 13 written by the Apostle Paul. In this chapter you do not see love being described as a feeling but by participative, moving choices and actions. 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 things.
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 I feel like it.
- Love does not envy; unless I feel cheated.
- Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; unless I feel slighted.
- Love does not behave rudely; unless they are rude to me.
- Love does not seek its own; except when I don’t get what I deserve.
- Love is not provoked; unless I am being unfairly treated.
- Love thinks no evil; unless it is their fault.
- Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; with the exception of feeling that if they cheated on me then I have the right to do the same.
- Love bears all things; unless they become unbearable.
- Love believes all things; unless I have reason to suspect them.
- Love hopes all things; unless they give me no reason to hope.
- And finally, love endures all things: with the exception that my spouse works too much, neglects me, doesn’t spend enough time with the children, and never listens.
More than a Feeling
Sadly, we have reduced love to a feeling but human feelings may be the most undependable, shallowest of all human emotions and they are highly subjective and very untrustworthy. Even so, feelings are used as just cause to divorce someone although that party that does so cannot remarry according to biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage. This doesn’t seem to matter anymore, even for Christians because they reason that they have a right to be happy. I have never found the verse where God promises us happiness in this life and in marriage. Joy, yes, but never happiness. 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. Children of divorced couples may not ever trust in the institution of marriage again 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 and primarily 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, who are being led by the Spirit, and who are walking in the Spirit, should never have this happen at all…ever! So many couples have “I-itis” or have a “me-centered” life 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 but the fact is that they don’t have a proper understanding of what love really is; love is a choice of the will, not a feeling where we are helpless victims. Love is a verb. It is action oriented. It is not about what someone can do can do for me or what someone does for me but what we can do for others. Do we really think that Jesus said about going to the cross: “Wow, I feel great about this? I feel this is right. I feel like doing this.” No, Jesus wanted this cup of the dregs of the sins of all humankind and all of the debauchery and wickedness removed but He deferred to whatever God’s will was. Jesus’ love was displayed, not be feeling, but by giving Himself even unto death. God so loved the world…because He felt good about it? No, He love the world so much that He sent His One and only Unique Son to die for sinful, wicked humans like us so that we might have eternal life as His own life’s expense (John 3:16). According to the Bible, love is what one does…not what one feels.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the 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. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon