Saturday, April 07, 2007

God, Love & Relationships (UPDATED)

I debated quite a lot about posting this; I didn't know if it was appropriate. And then I thought: "Well, if I can't write about this stuff on my blog, where the hell can I?" And, Easter's a pretty good time to do this. So, here goes:

For a long time I’ve felt that in a relationship Love is all that you need to make it work (yes yes, a cliché to be certain, but one I strongly believe in). I of course have had arguments about this with friends of mine who just as strongly disagree. So me, being me, have been thinking about the “why” behind my belief. After weeks of thinking, I believe I have come up with a response, or at least the beginning of one.

It begins with God. Christian theology teaches that God is pure Love. Everything that God does and plans are acts of Love. Our relationship with Him is based on us loving him. When we stop loving Him, our relationship with Him weakens. God’s Love is perfect.

So if Love was able, through God, to create the world and perform all the miracles, then why couldn’t it make a relationship work? If God is Love, and through God all things are possible, why isn’t Love all you need to make a relationship work? Although I had this discussion originally in terms of a romantic relationship, I believe that all relationships, be they familial, platonic or romantic are based on Love, though different types of love. Take an example of mine: My best friend Micah and I shouldn’t like each other. We are so different, in every aspect, that we shouldn’t be able to stand each other. I’m the guy he would beat up in high school; he’s the guy I looked down at. But because we met so early in childhood we developed a close bond and our love for each other makes us friends in spite of all our differences. We’ve both done things that would normally make us stop talking to each other, but we don’t, because we love each other too much to just write off our friendship.

So I don’t’ think you can say: “I love you but that’s not enough to stay in the relationship.” If you love someone enough, then that is all you need. A more accurate statement might be: “I don’t love you enough to make the relationship work.” Or again: “I don’t believe you love me enough to make this work.” Or what I would guess would be the most accurate: “I don’t have enough faith in our Love that we can make this work.”

Perhaps most people just feel this way and don’t express it correctly. I’m not sure. It’s possible that when someone says “love isn’t enough” what they mean is “I don’t love you enough” and just don’t know. But this is what I’ve come up with thus far. Obviously, this may stir up some feelings in people; this is one of those subjects that I really want to have a discussion about. I welcome your comments and opinions about this, because this is a hypothesis that is still forming in my head, and I think it needs to be challenged and tested (do I sound like a scientist or what?).

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter (or Passover!).

UPDATE: I respond to Mike's comments below. Now that I think on it, I should've done it here. He raises an interesting point, but one that I dont' feel diminishes from my own point of view.


Reva said...

I've always believed that too. And I still do. But I guess just because one person's love is enough, doesn't mean the other person's is.

Mike said...

You guys, seriously, c'mon, wake up. This is gonna make me sound like an a-hole, but this is true:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

So what happens when love does "fail"? I suggest that you have to view love in to different phases: the emotion and the commitment.

The emotion is what you feel, it’s the butterflies, the gripping sense of presence, the waves of passion that come and go for no reason, all the stuff of poems and prose (though not the prose above). This is not enough to sustain a relationship and, if we're honest, is really quite pathetic against even the most prosaic daily challenges. It's just a feeling and is not the world altering force people ascribe to it.

But I'll tell you what is: love the commitment. This phase of love is completely devoid of emotion, which is why it's so stable, and so powerful. Commitment doesn't care how you feel, doesn’t change when you've been wronged, doesn't stop being a commitment because something more attractive is available. Commitment is a conscious binding to another, an acknowledgment of obligation and a promise to fulfill that obligation. This phase of love is what keeps marriages together, what pushes couples to overcome their difficulties and differences, and provides the unbreakable crucible for love the emotion to flourish. It's also nearly impossible for human's to do without tremendous effort and serious help from above.

Love the emotion is a feeling and feelings will change. It's a fact of life as constant as the speed of light and ignoring it is as practical as ignoring the sun. What we have to figure out, what I think our generation is totally misguided on, is 1) how to achieve that sort of commitment, and 2) who to share it with. Neither of these depend on love the emotion at all and depend heavily on the compatibility of the two making a commitment to each other (ie is it even possible for them to engage in that sort of commitment, which brings into play things like personality, geography, stages of life, etc) and their willingness to make that commitment (ie are they willing to make the sorts of sacrifices it takes to be that committed?).

So the point is love the emotion is not enough, love the commitment is, and mistaking one phase for the other is an awful mistake.

John said...

Which doesn't make my interpretation invalid, IMHO. I never denied that commitment was necessary; I just never addressed it. Commitment, to me, is just another way of saying that you have faith in your relationship. If I don't believe a relationsihp will work, I won't be committed to it. No one (that I know of anyway) gets married with the intention of getting a divorce later. Those things just happen, and I argue that it is because there isn't enough love in the relationship to make it work.

I guess another way to phrase what I am saying is that commitment is an expression of a love which already exists. If you love someone enough, you will be committed to the relationship and ergo it will work.

And Mike, it's nice to see you read my blog. Now update yours!