Biblical love is often thought of in isolation from romantic love. Biblical love may seem stoic or shallow compared to the romantic love of husband and wife. Is this an accurate picture of the Biblical love God intends for husband and wife? Dictonary.com defines romantic as passionate, fervent and ardent – fierce and vehement.
Certainly there are various types of love described in the Bible with the Greek word Agape describing God’s love and the ultimate of what we should strive for in our relationships with others. However, Biblical love seems to go even further especially when describing the type of love husbands and wives should have for one another by the will of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Here are four reasons biblical love is truly romantic love.
1. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because it encompasses all three words the ancient Greeks commonly used for love and then adds a fourth not so common word to describe the ultimate love of God. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. They commonly used these three words to depict several elements of what we include in our one word love. The Bible mentions or alludes to all three of those elements in talking about true Biblical love between husband and wife, then adds the foundation of Biblical love “agape” which is the most powerful of the four words for love and describes God’s own love for us.
From “phileo” to “eros” to “storage” these words depict a love that includes friendship and the mutual enjoyment of sharing life together then add a physical intimate sexual component along with an intense family bond. Far from demeaning women to simply an object of physical desire or leaving love as a one dimensional friendship in the marriage bond, Biblical love crowns the love relationship between husband and wife with high respect and regard as well as deep sacrificial ramifications on many levels. Adding the fourth word for Biblical love, “agape,” elevates love to more than feelings, physical elements and family relationships to a decisive bond empowered by God’s Spirit that is as strong as death. It incorporates traits such as unending patience, unbelievable forgiveness, long suffering and even eternity itself. (See 1 Corinthians 13)
Note: the word “eros” is not actually used in Scripture to describe love probably because it was derived from the name of a Greek god. However intimate physical love is referred to many times in the Bible between husband and wife. (Song 1:13, 4:5-6, 7:7-9, 8:10; 1Co 7:25; Eph 5:31; and Heb 13:4).
2. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because it exposes common cultural substitutes for what may seem romantic and exciting as actually selfish and sinful. The Bible clearly defines the difference between true romantic love that does whatever is best for the cherished object and its sinful impostor, lust. So many of today’s popular music hits, movies and media portray romance as what the Bible actually describes as lust. The Bible warns of the long term devastation of lust thus spotlighting true love and guiding people to that instead. The Bible goes on to promise God's blessing on love that flows from His Spirit.
3. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because there are pages of sacred Scripture dedicated to its example. Read the PG rated book of Song of Solomon or the story of Ruth and Boaz. (Both by the way are also pictures of Christ's intense and sacrificial love for his church.)
4. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because the greatest love story of all time is that of Jesus, God's son, sacrificing all for the love of his people. In a captivating way the Bible presents Christ's love for his people as the love of a bridegroom for his bride. The Bible presents true love by showing Jesus Christ’s willingness to leave his throne, come to Earth, live without shelter and then be beaten and murdered to forgive and save his bride, the church. Isn’t this the stuff epic love stories of all time are patterned from?
More could be said about fervent fierce romantic Biblical love that includes forgiveness, mercy, and sacrifice. More could be written on how the Bible depicts God singing and rejoicing over his bride, the church, but for now during this season of Valentine’s, understand that the Bible is applicable to today’s culture. Romantic love is not the invention of man, but the gift and example of a loving gracious God. Look to the Bible for your examples of what true romantic love between husband and wife is really all about.
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Pastor Bob Franseen, Pastor of Eagle Heights Baptist Church & Others