I'll admit, my curiosity was piqued. So I went home and looked up some lyrics. "Hey, little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend; Sweet little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend. Do you love me babe? What do you say? Do you love me babe? What can I say? Because I wanna be your boyfriend."
Profound, right? I mean, wow. I'm touched if I'm a girl. How blessed I am that you want to be my boyfriend! What do I say? I say... wait, no, Taylor, that word does not fully describe the feeling. Hmm, how about, "WHAT THE BLAZES, DUDE?" Still falls far short... (by the way, I'd love to see some ideas from you girls of a response there... just for curiosity's sake).
Our generation is struck by this idea that there is this weird, generic "thing" that takes over your system and eats you alive from the inside out called love. This love is completely irrational, in fact, you can't control it and you can't help it. So you might fall in love with a complete jerk, but "We're in love" is somehow an excuse that covers all behaviors and morals, like a blanket forgiveness.
The problem is that this "love" being described is nothing akin to Biblical love. 1 Corinthians 13, the famous love chapter of the Bible, does a pretty good job of summarizing what would take me lot longer to say. "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Right now, that verse throws out the vast majority the cases of "we're in love" type of blind, thoughtless emotion we call love.
Alright, boyfriend. Answer me this. When you say "Oh, I just am so in love!! I love her all the time...", does that love consist of being patient with her? On her worst day, when her hair messed up and she's not wearing make up? Does it consist of being kind to her, when you're in a bad mood and when you don't feel like it? Does that love consist of consciously remaining calm and unprovoked at irritating things? Does that love consist of humility? Does that love consist of placing her first, placing her needs above your own? When you say, "we're so in love", is that what you're talking about?
Alright, girlfriend, answer me this. When you say, "Oh, I am so in love with Joe Schmoe!", you tell me. Does that love consist of putting him first? Placing his needs above yours? Rejoicing in righteousness, not unrighteousness? Rejoicing in being pure and blameless before marriage, going above and beyond to make that happen? Does that love consist of forgiving those hastily said angry words? Does that love keep you from being jealous?
We are faced with more and more of a twisting of what "love" means, making love more and more a mere emotion that we are not responsible for, that we just can't help but fall in love with this person or that person, as if we just can't help what happens. But while the Bible does speak of love as an emotion, it also very clearly speaks of the manner in which true love manifests itself, and it's not the way we seem to think it does today.
Andrew Peterson's song "Dancing in the Minefields" is one of my favorites by him as a young man considering marriage one day because of one particular line. "The only way to find your life is to lay your own life down." If there was one sentence to sum up 1 Cor. 13 and the love that we should have for our friends and our one day spouse, it's "lay down your life for them." Daily. Hourly.
I've talked to my parents and my married siblings, and every one of them says it, marriage is hard. It's the hardest thing they've ever done. My sister in law put it probably the best when she said that marriage was the most sanctifying thing she had ever done. It's hard. I say this as a young, unmarried man that I cannot imagine how difficult marriage will be.
I guarantee you, love based on anything less than this 1 Cor. 13 definition will not last, either for marriage, deep friendships, church fellowship. In order to build deep, lasting relationships, the love you feel must be more than a transient emotion that you can't control, because otherwise when this uncontrollable emotion moves on somewhere else, so will we.
No, Paul presents love as much more. Love is an emotion and decision, but how that love shows itself is what is so pivotal. True love, deep love, real love reveals itself through selflessness. Feelings that point us toward the other person, to put their needs above my own. True love is to lay your own life down.