Welcome back again, everyone! First of all, I want to assure you that despite the use of the word “romance” in the title, today’s post is not only for those of you in romantic relationships—though I do draw that comparison intentionally. We talk a lot here on the blog about the nature of love, and how much of our lives depend on it for our greatest good. But it’s important to remember that love grows in expression, and it will always be limited if it exists only in our minds as an internal state.

The truer and stronger love is, the more it wants to overflow and be passed on to others. But that expression takes practice, it doesn’t always come naturally. Take marriage, for example: scripture offers marriage as a reflection of God’s love, and as a preparation for the way in which we will one day love everyone. Of course, we will pass over certain physical elements of that love, but let’s take this comparison seriously. What lessons does marriage have to teach that we can apply to all our life’s relationships?

Well, probably the first and most obvious lesson is this: they take work. Anyone who has had a spouse—or even a boy or girlfriend—for any length of time knows that such a relationship cannot be idle. If it is not built up continuously, eventually it starts to fall apart. Needless to say, the dynamics are not quite the same for a friend or a family member. There aren’t enough hours in the day to give all of them the same attention we would show a spouse. Even so, I think our broader sense of community works in a similar way, become richer and more valuable the more we invest in it. Most of us, I’m sure, have gone through periods of lessened contact with our friends and family, and felt the difference.

A more controversial lesson, I’m sure, will be that of commitment. Although often subverted, the marriage vows that we could all probably recite from memory are pretty ironclad: “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.” In other words, it’s a picture of unconditional love. All in, with nothing held back. Now, you may be thinking, it’s one thing to promise that to a spouse (and no small thing, even then!), but you’d have to be crazy to think that way about friends, wouldn’t you?

Well, would you? Scripture refers to all believers as part of the same family, as brothers and sisters to one another. So it seems that we are meant to love one another as we would a family, and that love as a commandment is above all others. Of course, that’s not to say that we should expose ourselves to abuse, or that we can’t distance ourselves from someone who would take advantage of us, but even then, I believe that you can love that person as you would yourself: by wishing them well even as you grieve for the harmful actions they would take, and by hoping that they might learn better in time.

I believe that even in the most extreme cases, where getting away from a person is absolutely warranted and needed, we should try to remain open to the possibility that they might still be transformed, and should try to be ready and willing, on that day, to welcome them back with open arms.

Have a blessed, wonderful day!

Dr. Alex Loyd


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