Eight years ago, I got invited to a ladies’ luncheon where I heard the speaker, Deonna Tanchi, talking about the stages of love. If I remember right, it was something like this: 1. Romance; 2. Reality; 3. Resentment; 4. Retaliation; 5. Rage; 6. Resignation or Restoration.
Romantic movies popularize notions like “You complete me”. In reality, we can only find our completion in Christ. Every human being has an emptiness that only God can fill. We can try to fill that gap of emptiness with another person (or career, fame, relationships, power, etc.) but none of these, even cumulatively, will completely satisfy. To try to find happiness in another (likewise imperfect) human being (as the self) is like being two ticks who need a dog but are latching on to each other for sustenance. In a matter of time, the two ticks will suck the life out of each other.
If you are a single person, I hope you will pray for God’s best. I hope you do a Father’s due diligence on a suitor regarding how solid is his love for God (a.k.a. obedience in 1John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome) . If his emptiness is not filled by God, this candidate will have tendencies to one day go on insatiable searches for happiness outside of marriage. No one needs to unnecessarily volunteer himself to a life sentence in a prison cell or a torture chamber in exchange for fleeting fluttering feelings.
Each person ought to seek to be complete in Jesus, the perfect Lover of one’s soul. The spouse becomes a supplement, but not the completion on whom happiness or wellness hinges. At any stage that Jesus is the sufficiency of a person, the marriage can move from Romance to continual Restoration in a cycle that regenerates romance.
Marriage is not a contract that can be aborted arbitrarily but a covenant between God, groom, and bride in as though a “cord of three strands”, not easily broken (Ecc 4:12). Sometimes the marriage relationship is depicted through an equilateral triangle with the husband and wife at either end of the base and God at the top. If, for example, the wife moves closer to God, she is also moving closer to her husband. Even when she has moved as close as possible to God, she will not have moved any farther from her husband since her starting point.
If a time comes when a spouse jumps ship, God upholds the remaining spouse. Isaisah 54:5 says 5 For your Maker is your husband— the LORD Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
God is the Spouse who constantly loves unconditionally, wooing as a passionate suitor and does not ever leave nor forsake his beloved spouse. A person can only give what he/she has. When each spouse is receiving and understanding God’s unconditional love for him/her, he can pass on that unconditional love to his/her spouse. Otherwise, they will be like the two ticks who suck the life out of each other. The giving of love to one’s spouse is not determined by the receiving spouse’s worthiness but on the character of the giving spouse (then switch). Jesus gave us the model in demonstrating his unconditional love for us by dying for us not while we were worthy (which we always fall short of, Rom 3:23) but while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8)
Not all human spouses are immature and ruthless but there are those who seem to say “I promise to love you as long as I feel like it” or I will love you for richer, for better, in health and forsake you for poorer, for worse, in sickness.
Malachi 2:13-b-16 shows God’s sentiment towards marriage and the judgment that comes from breaking faith: withheld blessing:
You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Infatuation is defined as a usually extravagant passion or love or admiration. Sometimes, people make the mistake of equating love with infatuation, thinking that the headstrong, heart-pounding, hormone raging of teenage years is love. This elusive, guaranteed-to-fade feeling is a mirage. Real love is a decision and commitment to seek the highest good of the other person even at a personal sacrifice. The universal word, “love” used to refer to food, shoes, family members, and God takes on different forms in the Greek: eros (sensual love); philia (brotherly love); storge (affection); agape (unconditional love). All should be present in marriage, all the way to the highest form, agape. If even twins from the very same womb can sometimes disagree, how can any two unique individuals live together for a lifetime unless there is unconditional love?
For the married, there are highly specific guidelines for marriage relationships that will need to be discussed with church leaders, sought in God’s word, and prayed discernment for. For the single person, the best case scenario is to start out on the right footing, seeking God for himself/herself and then not settling for less than God’s best.
For both the married and unmarried, Jesus is the Perfect Valentine, Rewarder, Restorer, Affirmer, Delighter, Completer, and Lover of Souls.
SONG: I WILL BE HERE (Gary Valenciano)