Written by Evi Idoghor
Let me begin this post by saying—I am no expert in the institution of marriage. Neither have I ever been married. I asked a question on my poll on Instagram some time ago—is love enough when it comes to marriage? 92% answered no, while 8% answered yes.
The question came to be as a result of the on-going narrative; within and outside the church about love's inadequacies when it comes to holy matrimony. Little wonder the results on the Instagram poll were not far off the general public's beliefs.
Many believe that there are other elements that are of more importance than love in a life-long committed relationship, such as friendship, patience, forgiveness, trust, understanding, ability to handle finances and the likes. One evening, while busy scrolling away on social media, I stumbled upon a clip by a renowned pastor, who put in bold—Marriage is bigger than love.
Stunned by the statement, I quickly skimmed through the comments to see if anyone would challenge it, and one person amongst 200 people, said she didn’t believe so, because Love is the greatest of all, according to 1 Corinthians 13. I quickly liked her comment, then replied: same here.
What Is Love?
Let us start by defining love: according to Google, love is an intense feeling of deep affection or a great interest and pleasure in something. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as—“to like another adult very much and be romantically and sexually attracted to them, or to have strong feelings of liking a friend or a person in your family.”
Both definitions play love down to feelings and emotions. However, that is not all that there is to love. If we go by the biblical definition of what love is, then love is greater than everything—including marriage.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 defines love as something or someone who is patient, kind, not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way (considers other people’s thoughts). It is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged (remember when you always used to say—remember when you did that the first time? Or second time? Or you did that yesterday, so I will withhold certain things from you).
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out (it fights for others). It never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (It is not passive).
"You can love someone who you are not friends with, but you cannot be friends with someone you don't love."
This kind of love isn’t void of emotions, but it is greater. In fact, the Bible says in 1 John 4:9 (NKJV)—“He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” How then can Christ-followers say love isn’t enough when it comes to marriage, just as the rest of the world? A created thing cannot be greater than the creator. So, if God is love, and God created marriage, then love (God) is enough for your marriage.
Don't get me wrong, you need friendship, you need patience, you need to persevere, you need to keep growing and evolving. You need to be financially responsible. Yet, all these things wouldn’t work if love is not the foundation of the relationship or marriage. In fact, you only will be able to meet your obligations in marriage because you love God, and you love your spouse—unpopular opinion, I know.
For those who bring up the friendship argument because they believe when love runs out, friendship is what the relationship falls back on—here is the kicker: you can love someone or people who you aren’t friends with, but you can’t be friends with someone you don’t love. Hence, there is no friendship without love.
Our belief in God as Christians hinges on love— “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, so whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” —John 3:16 (NKJV). Love was the catalyst that drove God to sacrifice His son, Jesus, for everyone.
Is Love The Greatest?
Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment was, replied—“you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the great and first commandment, and the second, which is just like this; love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law of the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 (NKJV).
Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) goes ahead to tell husbands to LOVE their wives, the way Christ LOVED the church and gave His life for her. It is safe to say that you can’t have a successful marriage where love (the way it is defined in the Bible) isn't at the core of it.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” —Galatians 5:14 (NKJV). Which reiterates what Jesus said.
Yes, you need all those great qualities that people love to throw into the mix and say are bigger or greater than love, yet all those things emerge from a loving place. I will be patient with you because I love you. I will forgive you because I love you. I would pick my battles with you because I love you. I will be friends with you because I love you. I will honor and respect you because I love you. I will give my life for you because I love you.
I will work and ensure there is always bread for us to eat because I love you. I will ensure our marriage lasts because I love you.
“Above all these things put on LOVE, which is the bond of perfection.”—Colossians 3:14 (NKJV)
To allege that love isn’t enough when it comes to marriage is to assume God isn’t enough in your marriage—“Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” —1 Corinthians 13:13(NKJV).
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