Summary: In our culture it is okay for love to be temporary, transitory, and to last as long as it seems to work.
On Friday, July 29, 2005, Fox News ran the following story:
Some Seek Alternatives to 'Til Death Do Us Part'
Friday, July 29, 2005
By Jennifer D'Angelo
In some weddings, "'til death do us part" is going the way of "to honor and obey" — that is, out the window.
Vows like "For as long as we continue to love each other," "For as long as our love shall last" and "Until our time together is over" are increasingly replacing the traditional to-the-grave vow — a switch that some call realistic and others call a recipe for failure.
"We're hearing that a lot — 'as long as our love shall last.' I personally think it's quite a statement on today's times — people know the odds of divorce," said New Jersey wedding expert Sharon Naylor, author of "Your Special Wedding Vows," who adds that the rephrasing is also part of a more general trend toward personalizing vows…
What do you think of that? “Realistic” or “recipe for failure”? When I meet with a couple to talk about an upcoming marriage, I let them know that I have three basic criteria for performing a Christian wedding: it must be between a man and a woman, they must each make a solemn vow that their relationship will be exclusive (ie. “to be faithful to you alone”), and they must each make a solemn vow that their relationship will be lifelong. I tell them that they can express those thoughts, and the others that make up their vows, in language of their choosing, and I help them with that, but at its very basic, fundamental level, it has to be exclusive and it has to be lifelong.
Last week we began a look at the question, “how should we love?”, which comes out of our desire to obey Jesus’ description of the greatest commandments: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40). It also comes out of our goal as a church community is to “love first”. The commands are simple enough, but putting them into action is worth a deeper exploration: what does it mean to love? how we have been shaped by our culture in terms of what it means to love? practically speaking, How should we love? How do we actually live a love for God and a love for others?
Last week we explored the idea of love as a powerful feeling, concluding that while there is a strong emotional component to love, and that is a really great thing, the emotion is not actually love. Today I want to explore a second way that I think our culture has shaped our understanding of love and compare that to the teachings of Scripture. Last week we talked about music as a medium for our cultural message, this week I thought we’d use TV. Again, it is a really broad topic so I have to just randomly pick a couple examples and generalize. So let’s pick one genre, the relationship sitcom – like Seinfeld, or Friends, and let’s think about what this particular genre of TV teaches us about love. Now, the “rules” of this type of TV show state that there is a set cast of characters, four in Seinfeld and six in Friends, and they appear week after week in various situations, interacting with various different characters and other relationships with people, but (and here is my point) – generally those are all temporary. Relationships come and go, they are often sexual in nature, but they aren’t really intimate outside of that physical realm. Often the general plot lines (in these and other TV shows like them) is one of the characters “falling in love”, a relationship existing for a time, and then it ends and the person moves on. Of course it is more complex than that, and there are other parts and messages, but this is the one I want to focus on today as an example of this critical skill we need to develop of listening to the messages our culture is sending, and then comparing those to Scripture to see what is truth and what is a lie.
So with this cultural message in mind, – that life is about meeting someone, growing to “love” them in some form or other, and then moving on to the next relationship, which many of us have watched hundreds of times on television - let me as this question: can love ever be temporary? What do you think? Now I know that in my introduction I used the example of marital love, but I want you to think now more broadly than that, to our conception of “love” in general, not just in romantic relationships, as you reflect on that question: can love ever be temporary?