Dr. Jay Adams, an author of books on Christian counseling, describes a familiar scene.
John and Mary have come to the pastor for counseling…but not really…for their minds are already made up. Repentance is not in the air.
Both profess to be Christians. There has been no adultery or malicious desertion they can claim as Biblical grounds for the breaking of the marriage bond. Neither one has cheated on the other. Neither one has hopelessly abused or abandoned the other.
John and Mary simply have a common desire to prove that there are “irreconcilable differences.”
They pour out the story of their mutually wounded hearts. They do not have to exaggerate. Things have been truly bad. Sin hurts.
Finally John says, “So you see, pastor, our marriage is finished. I haven’t loved her in years. There’s nothing left to build on.”
Mary agrees: “I was too young when I married, and after all he’s done to me, if I never see him again in my life, it will be too soon.”
They sit back and wait for the pastor’s reply.
He begins, “Well, if you don’t love each other, I guess there is only one thing to do…”
John and Mary each think, “Here it comes. He agrees that there’s nothing left for us but to get a divorce.”
The pastor continues: “The only thing left for you to do is…learn how to love each other.”
“Learn to love!?” they think. “You can’t command feelings of love!”
Of course you can’t. But love is not primarily a “feeling.”
Nor is it a shrewd business deal…as in…”I love you as long as you fulfill certain functions in my life…as bread-winner, house-keeper, sexual partner…intellectual conversationalist, etc. etc.”
Love, as we learn it from Christ, is a deliberate commitment to the well-being of another person, deserved or not. This love helps the other down the path to heaven. The very definition of grace is God’s undeserved love…the kind He has given to us by sending His very heart, His only-begotten Son.
And yes, this kind of love God does command: “Love the Lord your God…love your neighbor…and husbands, love your wives!”
Love is something we learn over many years amid many mistakes. For those who grew up largely unloved, with no one to show them how, it may be difficult. But wherever we came from, we can learn from the “love story” set down in the Bible. Christ has loved us – all of us – all the way to the grave and back again. He saw us – and the one He set at our side – as He was giving up His life.
Did any of us deserve such love? Were any of us lovable? If we see each other through the eyes of Him who so loved us, then “what God has joined together” can stay that way – and joyfully so!