So what is Love? I’ve used several definitions over the years. One that I’ve used a lot is that “Love is an emotional-volitional response to an intellectual evaluation of another person.” I used this some years ago while teaching a college Sunday School class. After the class, a young man came up to me and said, “I like that definition. I’ve been dating several girls, and I think it’s time I get married. So I’m going to do that intellectual evaluation of them and decide who I’m going to marry.”
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to have that definition taken so seriously so quickly. I was thinking more of stirring up some discussion on the subject. But the next week the young man introduced me to Linda as his future bride. I was a bit shocked at the decisiveness of his process, and I asked LInda, “Do you know how he decided your are the one he’s going to marry? She gave me a sly smile and simply said, “Yes.”
He was a senior in college and was planning on going to seminary. Later on, I asked him how he had decided. He said he first made a list of all the positive things he liked about each of the girls he was dating. Then he wrote out what he thought might be the problems they would face as a couple if they married. I complemented him on that point, saying that when you choose who it is you’re are going to marry, you are really choosing a set of problems that you will live with the rest of your life.
Then he continued describing his process. He said that after making the lists, he let them sit for a while, and then went back to his lists to see what his emotional response was to his evaluations. Linda was the clear winner according to his heart’s response.
I’ve heard from him several times over the years as he reported his marriage was strong–he had made the right choice.
Another definition I have used says that love exists when the emotional and physical well-being of the other person are more important to you than your own emotional and physical well-being. How different these two definitions are from some of our culture’s common descriptions of love.
A famous, (or infamous, depending on how you view it) line from the 1970 movie Love Story says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Or we hear the common statement about someone “falling in love” and never stop to think that if one can fall into love, one might just as easily fall out of love. Our culture typically sees love as an emotion that is beyond our control. A dangerous understanding. In the next post, we’ll look at the truth about love.
Question: How would you define love?