Ok, you guys asked for it. 🙂 I started getting into this entire subject because it seems that the world and the Bible mean two completely different, and dare I say, mutually exclusive things by the word “love.” The world… in movies, TV, music, books, poetry, or literature of any media or genre… always talks about love being a feeling. And you know what I think about feelings. X-)
What really got my attention was this song one of my co-workers was forcing everyone to listen to called “Hooked On a Feeling” by Blue Suede. It says, “I can’t stop this feeling deep inside of me. Girl you just don’t realize what you do to me…” and then it says, “I’m hooked on a feeling, I’m high on believing that you’re in love with me.” I work with 2 unsaved people who are deeply offended by Air1, so while they’re there in the morning/afternoon, they make us listen to the oldies, classic rock, and pop stations. On those stations, I notice that a vast majority of the songs use the word “love,” however they’re actually about something else, you know what I mean.
Obviously that isn’t what love really is, but then I thought, “Well then, what is it?” How would you define the real deal? And then I thought of this question…
OK, here’s a hypothetical sci-fi question: An alien anthropologist comes to Earth from another planet, learns to speak English, and studies our Western culture… it approaches you and says, “I keep hearing you humans talking about this thing you call ‘love,’ but I’m confused. What is this ‘love?’ Can you explain it to me, please?” What would you say?
I’d probably stand there, scratch my head, shrug, and say, “Um… I dunno.” X-) So posted the question, along with this cute little picture of Stargate SG-1’s Thor, on Facebook and Tumblr, and got more of the same. Here’s what I got…
- God is love.
- A deep affection for someone, you would do anything for them, you enjoy their company.
- I don’t know, but if you’re in Star Trek TNG you end up stranded on an inhospitable alien planet, trapped in an elaborate simulation in order to give a first-hand demonstration.
- The reason for War and Peace alike. Just go ask Helen of Troy.
- All you need is love.
- Love? Above all things I believe in love! Love is like oxygen. Love is a many-splendored thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love!
- I’d have to say, “no, but I’ll show you some examples as we come across them.”
- I would say that “love” is the most misunderstood word in the English language. People will use it and abuse it and treat it as a noun. Something that is conditional and professed incorrectly, as something they can take and control as a feeling that only you can feel. But true love is a verb, in doing for others, in allowing yourself to give in spite of yourself. To sacrifice your feelings, yourself up to and including your life to allow others to know they matter. Only when you give THIS can you hope to receive it back. In my humble opinion.
- Love is always kind. Always making the other person feel special, wanted, important and prized for who they are. Overlooking faults and imperfections and letting them know in words and deeds that they are truly special to you and to God.
And this one answer…
“I would say that it is a biochemical response triggered by a pathological and deeply instinctive need or want or copulate, resulting in emotional attachment. It can also be triggered by purely emotional and mental compatibility. The resulting feeling is what people call love.”
OK, that’s really disturbing. Really. I found that to be a little strange that our entire culture is so obsessed with something we can’t even explain or define. So I thought, “OK… I’m gonna have to do a little research, here.”
Considering I have Asperger’s and my brain isn’t wired like everyone else’s, I did a little research into this “feeling” thing, including research into what Dr. Caroline Leaf says about feelings. And what I find is that the feeling people call “being in love” is actually caused by a reaction in the brain to a chemical called phenylethylamine. My research concluded that the brain releasing phenylethylamine into one’s system is involuntary, caused by outside influences that create the right conditions for each individual person… in other words, you can’t make yourself feel “in love.” You can’t choose to flood your brain with phenylethylamine, therefore you’re not controlling it. Not only that, phenylethylamine has been scientifically proven to be addictive, and people chase it, looking for those people/things/situations that trigger it. But the Bible says in 1 Cor. 13 that love is “the greatest of these.” This made me say, “Whoa, wait a minute… the greatest of these is an involuntary reaction to an addictive chemical in the brain over which one has no control? Greater than faith and hope is phenylethylamine? This can’t be right.” So I’d say it’s logical to conclude that Biblical love is not a feeling. So if it’s not a feeling, then what is it?
Jesus says directly in Mark 12:30-31 that to love God and to love others is the greatest of the commandments… once again, if love was an involuntary reaction we have no control over, obviously being the Creator of the universe, He would know this, so why then would He command us to do something we physically can’t? He wouldn’t. A command, by nature, is an action to be taken… proven by the fact that every other command God gives involves an action to be taken, this is God’s M.O… therefore if He’s commanding us to love, then love must be an action to be taken.
OK then, what does the action of “love” entail? Being called “the love chapter,” 1 Cor 13 seems the logical place to go, otherwise leaving up to personal interpretation can easily lead into the dangerous territory of relative truth and circumstantial morality, and you don’t wanna go there. So it says in v.4-8 that love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and never fails.
Upon taking a good long look at the actual words used in the verse, I notice something: “Love IS patient, love IS kind, etc.,” and I thought about something. If love is an action, then there’s a problem with the transitive verbs being used here… we’re putting them in the wrong context. You can’t describe a verb with an adjective, so then what the heck was Paul talking about? The only way this can make logical sense is to re-think the verbs… these are used in a conjugation that we don’t have a form for in English, therefore something’s been lost in translation. That’s not to say that the Bible is mistranslated, but rather that we’re reading it in a way it wasn’t meant to be read… through “world-colored glasses.” This doesn’t mean “is” as to describe something’s state of existence, but rather to say “takes the action of being.” We don’t have a word for that in English, but “is” is the closest we have. So that means 1 Cor 13 is not actually a description of a thing called “love,” but rather a how-to guide on taking the action of “love.” This is saying that love takes the actions associated with being patient, kind, not envying, not boasting, etc. Now THAT makes logical sense.
And when it comes to feelings, the only thing God ever says about feelings and emotions is that we’re to control them, not the other way around… 2 Cor 10:5 says to take every thought captive, not to let it dictate what we do. So it only makes sense to me that we’re to take the actions involved in loving someone no matter what we feel, and let our feelings catch up.
So, logical conclusion: love is not a feeling to which we conform our actions, but rather a set of actions to be taken towards a person to which our feelings will conform.
But that’s just how my cross-wired brain operates, so that’s the kinda stuff I think of. X-) Honest to God, I’ve never heard anyone talk about any of that before, and truthfully, it’s kinda scary the way the definition of love being a feeling is infiltrating everyone everywhere in every way.
Sherlock Holmes was right when he said “The brain is what counts, everything else is transport.” He’s always been one of the most relatable characters to me. X-) But it’s true in the sense that we should be telling our feelings and emotions what to do, not the other way around. If love is a verb, and action to be taken, then we have to make the choice to take it. So then there’s no love without choice. And phenylethylamine is involuntary, therefore there’s no choice. Think about it… I know I certainly wouldn’t wanna be in a relationship with someone who didn’t choose to be there… how much would it hurt to think that if the person didn’t chose you, but rather blindly followed their flesh? That no thought went into it?
Besides, the phenylethylamine “high” from one particular source is scientifically proven to wear off within 18-24 months, then what? Do you suffer miserably in a relationship that no longer makes you “high,” or do you just keep moving on to another one when the “high” wears off? What a miserable life that would be. But when the decision is based firstly on God’s will and the sense and logic that he created our brains to operate on to begin with, then we can tell our feelings what to do. We can make the choice to take the actions of loving someone that’s purposefully, thoughtfully, and intelligently chosen, and our feelings will align with our choice. To me, that’s a much more desirable course of action… and a FAR more sustainable one that can definitely last a lifetime.