SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVES


"WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?"

GARY W. SUMMERS

   

Yes, this article is in some measure about the 1984 Tina Turner song, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" which spent three weeks at number one. It also has to do with the Stephen Stills' 1971 top twenty hit, "Love the One You're With," and many other such like songs. Not only have these been popular at the record store; they have been even more popular as the operating philosophy of many Americans.

With the availability of the birth control pill, the advent of the radical feminist ideology (sex without guilt or consequences, facilitated by legalized abortion), and stellar encouragement from the entertainment media, very few women these days resemble the woman in Frank Sinatra's 1955-56 number five hit, "Love and Marriage." One of the lines is: "Dad was told by mother, 'You can't have one without the other.'" Sex, in other words, was reserved for the marriage relationship.

But times have changed, and people have joyously declared that love and sex do not necessarily go together, having discovered a dichotomy between the two. Some have learned to "compartmentalize" handily and conveniently between them. The evidence of the popularity of this philosophy is that more and more frequently we hear comments or questions typified by the man whose letter to "Dear Abby" appeared in newspapers across the nation on April 18th:

Would it be cheating on my girlfriend if I engaged the services of a prostitute? There's no emotional attachment. --Wondering in Washington

Now most people would probably respond, "Duh." The fact that such a question even needed to be asked is indicative of the times in which we are living. Although Abby errs on several moral issues, she got this one right; she threw the question back at him:

Would your girlfriend be cheating if she engaged the services of a male hustler? There's no emotional involvement. Think about it.

The same answer holds for married, as well as engaged, couples. Perhaps the thinking of one individual in a relationship is skewed. A man or a woman might think, "I want more diversity, greater frequency, or the thrill of seeing if I can get away with it." Of course, the first question should be, "What does God think about adultery and fornication?" (1 Cor. 6:18-20). The second question should be, "How would I feel if my fiance/mate were thinking the same thing I am or engaging in the same behavior I do?" If that partner would be tremendously hurt, there is a reasonable chance that the would-be cheater's actions will yield the same results.

Men who purchase pornography (and it remains a billion dollar a year industry) likewise attempt to disassociate sex from love. They too should ask, "How would I feel if I discovered my wife had a stash of magazines and was secretly spending time studying male 'attributes'?" How many men who claim that sex is just an impersonal activity not involving love would take the revelation of such a tawdry fact personally? Is it not apparent that extramarital desires spring from selfishness, which is the antithesis of love?

About three months ago, while flipping through television stations with the remote (a now-dangerous practice), this writer came upon a program aimed at teens (possibly on MTV). This young couple (apparently unmarried) had committed fornication, but the male evidently was not satisfied. While she slept, he grabbed a pornographic magazine and crept away stealthily. His girlfriend awoke a few minutes later and confronted him as he was showering. She could not understand why he needed pornography when she had just been a willing partner. She decided that such a situation was too intolerable and determined to break up with him. Ah, but the story has a happy ending. A good friend assured her that he really did love her and that his inordinate appetite for sex was actually unrelated to her (no emotional involvement, no doubt).

The question, however, is not, "Can sex be impersonal?" Obviously, it can. After all, if two people want each other, "What's love got to do with it?" Those who stare at pictures in a magazine or on one of hundreds of Websites on the Internet are not thinking about the intellectual capabilities of the object of their desire. Their thoughts are very impersonal. Have they wondered how the woman's parents feel about her public display of nudity? Are their hearts broken? What about the grief she is bringing to her brothers and sisters or her grandparents? Did she attend Bible classes at some point in her past? What happened to her spiritual appetite, her modesty, her sense of shame?

God did not create male and female so that sex could be impersonal; He designed it to be a personal expression of love between two married people--a man and a woman, who complement each other physically and in other ways as well. The Bible consistently recognizes this fact from beginning to end. For that reason rape is condemned (love has nothing to do with it), fornication is condemned (it precedes the loving commitment required by God), homosexuality is condemned (it is against nature and God's purpose for two sexes), prostitution is condemned (it is outside of marriage and involves no love at all). As a side point, if the Bible were written by mere human beings, there would be some leeway on these matters because the hearts of men are frequently responsive to fleshly lusts.

Wedding vows usually contain words to this effect: "And do you solemnly promise, before God and these witnesses, that you will love, honor, and cherish her, and that, forsaking all others for her alone, you will perform all the duties that a husband owes his wife, until God, by death, shall separate you?" (emp. added). The text does not say "unless you have a roving eye" or "until she does something you don't like." Wives also promise to forsake all others, and there are no stipulations such as "unless he won't provide for me in the manner to which I am accustomed" or "until he just makes no effort to understand me."

As someone commented: "Marriages may be made in heaven, but they are lived out here on earth." They require effort, understanding, and patience. It is the loving relationship that provides meaningful intimacy; otherwise, what God designed as personal becomes an impersonal act of gratification, as well as a violation of God's law (in addition to being dangerous in today's world).

Profligacy also violates one's word. Recently, the Bee Gees released their 28th studio album, This Is Where I Came In. Several of these songs were showcased on A & E's "Live by Request" program the night of April 27th. Two songs promote love and faithfulness in marriage: "Wedding Day," has some beautiful words. But there is another cut on the album, titled "Sacred Trust," the chorus of which actually expresses several Biblical ideas.

I follow my heart right up to the end,
As far as the eye can see.
I'm faithful and true and living up to.
Your sacred trust in me.

I'll never give out to somebody else;
I know where my arms should be.
I'm faithful and true and making it through
Your sacred trust in me,
Your sacred trust in me.

I follow my heart that leads me to you
And all that my love should be.
And you can be sure I'm doing it for
Your sacred trust in me.

Marriage involving the vows mentioned previously do involve a sacred trust. A husband needs to know that he can rely on his wife's faithfulness, and vice versa. As one of the band members of Journey assured his wife back in 1983, even though they were touring and opportunities for cheating were legion: "I'm forever yours--faithfully."

Anyone can give in to temptation; it is by far the easiest thing one could do. The Bible is full of people who failed to think rationally and operated primarily by emotion. Amnon would not be dissuaded from his lecherous purpose by the several arguments his sister presented against his plan (2 Sam. 13). Even a man after God's own heart was so inflamed with passion that he jeopardized his close relationship with God. Joseph stands as the primary example of a right-thinking man.

Who is the person that God (and usually, ironically, even the world) admires: the one who is weak, or the one who demonstrates strength of character? When the child of God is asked, "What's love got to do with it?" if he is well-prepared for such a moment, he will resist temptation and answer, "Everything."

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "'WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?'."


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