Why Love Is Preeminent
Our views about love have gotten twisted over time. Most people think of love as a strong feeling, but according to Bob Lepine, that is far from how the Scriptures define love. It's hard work to love someone, says Lepine. Love isn't a benefit you get, but pouring out your life for the good of another. There is something that happens in our hearts when we start viewing love correctly, as God defines it. God enlarges our hearts. Lepine, married for 41 years, tells what he has learned about love over the years with his wife, Mary Ann.
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Most people think of love as a strong feeling, but according to Bob Lepine, that is far from how the Scriptures define love. Lepine tells what he has learned about love over 41 years with his wife, Mary Ann.
Why Love Is Preeminent
Bob: Did you ever find yourself wondering, “Why doesn’t my marriage measure up to the love stories that I see in movies?” [Laughter] Okay; you just need to get real.
Man: Everything that she wanted out of life, and everything she saw out of life was based on The Notebook. I don’t want no parts of The Notebook. We’re not ever going to be out in the rain, kissing. Maybe, we might be out in the rain, kissing, one day—
Wife: Okay. [Laughter]
Man: —maybe one day.
Wife: I’ll accept that. [Laughter]
Man: Yes; but it’s not going to be a huge love story behind it, outside of the fact that we’re real people, and we don’t like each other sometimes. We always love each other, but you can dislike somebody and love them at the same time.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, November 9th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Time for some recalibration/time for a reality check when it comes to what real love is supposed to look like. Let’s do that today; okay? Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us for the Monday edition. I’m ready for a revolution; you know? I think it’s about time—
Dave: You want me to grab my guitar?—
Bob: “You say you want a—
Dave: —play a little bit? [Laughter]
Bob: I think it’s about time for there to be a revolution in marriages around what love is supposed to look like.
Ann: I think I know someone who wrote about this. [Laughter]
Dave: Do you?
Ann: Yes! I think it’s really good, and this is exciting—
Dave: We’re sitting beside a famous/famous author.
Bob: This is something I’m pretty passionate about. I did write a book called Love Like You Mean It; it comes out of years, talking to couples at Weekend to Remember® getaways.
Ann: And it’s good, practical, biblical.
Bob: I’ve noticed that couples—
Dave: —don’t know.
Bob: —they think about love and marriage from a cultural standpoint, not from a biblical standpoint. You’ve seen that; right?
Dave: Oh, yes. I think we all agree—it’s always been true—I think there’s something in our culture—I don’t know; last decade or more?—it’s dominating how we view love; it’s social media; there’s shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Again, I’m not saying they’re terrible shows.
Ann: I think—excuse me—I thought you were going to be Prince Charming—[Laughter]—not that you’re not!—but it just looks a little different than I had anticipated. [Laughter]
Dave: —which makes the point: “it’s always been”—you’ve always had misconceptions compared to reality.
Dave: You [Bob] decided: “Let’s go and find out what the Author/the Creator of love has to say.”
Bob: Exactly; you read 1 Corinthians 13, and you see a whole different picture of love than what you see in rom coms, or what you hear about in pop songs. I wrote the book, Love Like You Mean It; it came out this year.
Our team said, “We need to come up with something that would take this book and make it accessible for couples to go through together with other couples, have conversations around these subjects.” We’re about to release a small group video series for Love Like You Mean It.
Dave: That’s exciting.
Bob: It is exciting.
Ann: It’s good too.
Bob: I was really encouraged by how it turned out. Some of the people we had participate in this process brought a lot to it. Each of these video sessions is about
20 minutes long. It’s easy to do in an adult Sunday school or a small group; you can do it online if you’ve got a Zoom small group that you’re doing these days.
Ann: Can you just do it as a couple?
Bob: Yes; it something/we designed it so that you could use it for pre-marital engagement or one-on-one mentoring with other couples. It’s ten sessions long, but it’s also designed so it can be a “Choose your own”: if you say, “We’ve only got six weeks to go through something like this,”—well, you do the first and the last, and you pick the middle ones you want to go through—there’s even an assessment you can take to help you determine: “Which are the ones you need to pay more attention to?” as you go through this series.
Ann: That’s a good idea; we should go through that assessment, Dave. [Laughter]
Bob: We should!—we should give you the assessment and share with our listeners what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Dave: Maybe we shouldn’t. [Laughter]
Bob: We want our listeners to get a little sample of this and to hear some of what’s behind the big idea. This is an excerpt from Session One of the Love Like You Mean It small group series, where we talk about the fact that our expectations related to love and marriage are often different than the reality that we experience.
[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]
Bob: I don’t know if you had experience with online dating sites back before you were married. I’m clearly old enough that, before I was married, no such thing existed. I also know some of you are sitting here and that’s how you met one another—was through technology. One of the things I’m told from people, who have been on these sites, is that sometimes the profile picture that you see on the site is not the same as the real life image when you finally meet that person. You’ve got a nice airbrushed glamour shot on the website; then, you meet for coffee; and you go, “Oh, you look a little different than you did on the website.”
I think that can also apply to how we think about love and marriage before we’re married versus after we’re married. I think we have this image that love and marriage are going to be this wonderful, beautiful, magical, always romantic, always joy-filled experience. We see the airbrushed image/the glamour shot; and then, we get married and go, “It’s like that sometimes when you put a little makeup on; but the rest of the time, it’s kind of ordinary. It’s a little more mundane.”
Man: We met at a track meet; We technically met over the phone. When she pulled up to Buffalo Wild Wings, for our karaoke night with my college buddies, she got out of the car. I chose her in that moment; I said, “I choose you,”—like Pikachu—“Here we go.”
Man: We met at kickball; I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight.
Woman: In the beginning of this relationship, aside from any other relationship, I prayed for him. I told my parents, “This is going to be my husband,”—like: “Pray for him,” “Pray for us.”
Husband: Oh, you did? [Laughter] Oh, the truth shall set you free. [Laughter]
Woman: We met at church; and no, it was not love at first sight. He was a rapper, and I did not enjoy rap music. So, no; it wasn’t love at first sight.
Husband: You stole my rapper line. [Laughter]
Woman: Oh, sorry!
Woman: For me, it was love at first sight. We met when I was 15. My sister was dating his best friend, and she wanted to visit him at his job. Carlos worked there as well. He came out to say hello. I saw him; I thought, “Who is that?!” But he doesn’t remember that encounter. [Laughter]
Carlos: She was too young at that point.
Man: We actually met online, and not love at first sight.
Wife: That’s awful! [Laughter]
Sabrina: I thought, “You know, this guy is really nice; and he’s widowed like me, and so I need to just….” We went out on a couple of dates. After awhile, I was like, “No, I don’t think we should go any further. Our situations are too different.” He told me/he said, “I believe that you are the one that God has for me. I prayed about it, and I believe that you’re the one that God has for me.” I said, “Well, you better pray about it for me, then, because God has not told me that!” [Laughter]
Man: I saw her from across the room, and I told one of my friends, “Oooh; I’m going to get to know her.” [Laughter]
Wife: I did go ahead and call him after that weekend. He gets on the phone; he says, “Hey, baby; how are you?” I said, “Um; I’m not your baby, and you don’t know me like that. We don’t even know each other. Why don’t you write me a letter and tell me a little more about yourself?” thinking that he would never write me. I was really trying to brush him off; but he actually wrote me, and sprayed cologne in the card, and sent me a little gift with it. When I read the card, that’s when I fell in love, just by reading the words in the card. He was really a great guy.
Woman: We met on a blind date. We both say it was truly God’s will for us to get married, because it is not in my personality to go on a blind date. It is not in his personality to ask anybody on a blind date. Was it love at first sight?—it was like at first sight, for sure.
Husband: —like at first sight; not love at first sight. [Laughter]
Bob: Now, why did we have these naïve illusions about what marriage and love would be? Well, because we watch movies, or we read Jane Austen novels, or we listen to pop songs. We think this is what the world is supposed to be/this is what marriage is supposed to be; so we come into marriage with this highly romantic, highly emotion-based view of marriage.
Author and pastor, Dr. Gary Chapman, calls it the “tingles,”—I like that—and I like the tingles; right? We all like the tingles when we feel them in marriage. But as
Dr. Chapman says, the tingles will not sustain you through a lifetime of marriage. The tingles will come and go. When they come, it’s great; and when they’re gone, we miss them. But that’s not what real love is all about in the first place—may be an aspect of our love for one another—but it’s not the foundation of our love for one another.
And that’s what this series is all about: “How do we get a better understanding of what the Bible describes as the foundation for love in marriage? How do we build a marriage on the foundation that is described for us in the Bible?” It’s a foundation/it’s a kind of love that has fiber, and grit, and substance to it. That’s the kind of love we need to build a marriage on.
Gratefully, the Bible describes that for us in 1 Corinthians 13. You’ve probably heard that passage of Scripture/maybe read it yourself; but have we really stopped to think deeply about it?—to ponder it; to dig down and say, “What does this passage tell us about what real love is supposed to look like?”
It’s a little like our wedding vows—you remember, when we got married, and they said, “Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish?”—we heard those words and we thought, “Yes, of course; I promise to do that.” But did we really stop to think: “What does love, and honor, and cherish—what does that look like? What does that mean? What does that require of me?”
That vow to love, honor, and cherish is not a vow that I will always feel a certain way about you in marriage. It’s a vow that I will always choose to act a certain way—I will always make choices that are loving, and honoring, and cherishing—that’s what we’re promising one another. That’s a big promise, but that’s the promise that we made when we married.
Man: It’s interesting to see how people look at social media and look at love and look at families. In the beginning of our marriage, I always said, when we got in an argument, that she wanted us to be like The Notebook. The Notebook is the defining movie for me—I’ve never seen it; I would never watch it—but I’ve seen enough of the credits and the previews to know that everything that she wanted out of life, and everything she saw out of life, was based on The Notebook. I don’t want no parts of The Notebook.
Wife: It’s my favorite movie.
Man: We’re not ever going to be out in the rain, kissing. Maybe, we might be out in the rain, kissing, one day—
Wife: Okay. [Laughter]
Man: —maybe one day.
Wife: I’ll accept that. [Laughter]
Man: Yes; but it’s not going to be a huge love story behind it, outside of the fact that we’re real people, and we don’t like each other sometimes. We always love each other, but we dislike us sometimes—that’s what we always tell people: “You can dislike somebody and love them at the same time.”
Bob: Isn’t that fun? [Laughter]
Dave: That guy is as real as they get.
Ann: I like him.
Bob: We wanted to bring real life and make this a real-life thing.
Ann: You mean real in that every woman wants her marriage to be like The Notebook? [Laughter] Yes?!
Bob: —The Notebook. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes; I love you, and sometimes I don’t like you.
Bob: Yes; right.
Dave: That doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It’s hard; it’s messy, but I still love you.
Bob: Mary Ann and I would—
Ann: Are you telling me something there? [Laughter]
Bob: When Mary Ann and I are talking to an engaged couple, I will often say, “Now look; marriage is going to be harder than you realize.” Mary Ann will say, “And it’s wonderful.” And I will say, “Yes; and it’s harder than you realize,” and “It’s wonderful,”—because you want them to understand—
Ann: You want them to be excited.
Bob: —“This is great and it’s hard, simultaneously; but it’s so worth what it’s all about.”
Dave: And they won’t know you’re telling them the truth until they’re in that reality.
Bob: We go on in the series to take couples to the source material for where you find what love is all about; and that’s the Bible. Let’s listen to another excerpt from the Love Like You Mean It video series.
[Love Like You Mean It Excerpt]
Bob: Let me read the biblical description of love from 1 Corinthians 13 and remind us of what the Bible says here. You probably heard these words before, but I want us to think carefully and deeply about this. As I read this passage, you might be thinking: “Does this sound like me? Is this describing me? Am I this kind of person?” You can take the word, “love,” out—and put your name in—and say, “Would these things be true about me?”
Do that as I read 1 Corinthians 13, starting at verse 4. The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrong-doing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.”
This is the kind of love that is the right kind of foundation for a marriage to thrive/for couples to flourish. With this foundation in place, marriage can be what God designed for it to be. But when we settle for something less than this—when we try to build our marriage on something that is a less firm foundation than this kind of gritty love that’s being described here—we’ll have a less-than-fulfilling and less-than-God-honoring marriage.
Now, it takes work; there are no shortcuts. This is hard to pursue; you don’t just fall in to this kind of love. This is the kind of love that has to be worked on, has to be cultivated, has to be nurtured. Let me add this: “When this love is not present in a marriage, whatever else that marriage might be”—it might be a happy marriage; you might be mutually-appealing to one another; you might get along well with one another; you can co-exist; you can have an okay marriage without this kind of love—“but what you can never have is the kind of marriage that God intended or that glorifies Him.”
You might be the ideal spouse: you’re charming; you’re responsible; you’re good-looking; you’re successful; you’re fun-loving; you’re intelligent—you’re all of these wonderful things—but 1 Corinthians 13 says it doesn’t matter how gifted you are, how skilled you are, how noble you are—if love is absent, then what you’ve got on the other side is nothing.
Do you hear that? It says everything, minus love, equals nothing; that’s the calculation in the Bible. Without love, you don’t have anything that honors God; you don’t have anything that pleases God. You might have a nice marriage; but unless you have the greater love that the Bible talks about—a love that lays down its life for others—then it’s always going to be less than fully satisfying for you, and it’s never going to be the kind of marriage that displays God in His glory to others.
Woman: I don’t know if there was really a specific instance; but I remember, early on, feeling like, “Okay; this is going to take leaning in.” Love is not obviously just butterflies and all these mushy feelings all the time—I knew that going into marriage—but then a few months after we’d gotten married, I was like, “This means having hard conversations and admitting I’m wrong; and admitting that I lashed out; or I was impatient—or fill in the blank.” It’s having conversations that aren’t always fun, and I’m not good at that at all.
You’re [to husband] way better at admitting, “Hey, we need to talk about this; we need to figure this out.” I would just rather avoid it. I needed to realize, “If this is going to work/if I’m going to love you the way I need to, I need to really lean into this and have the kind of conversations that we need to have.”
Husband: Yes; I think I quickly understood that we were at different places, mentally and spiritually—I feel like not behind each other or anything—but just in different places. Understanding who she was and how she processed things was a huge part of that in growing. I can be the kind of person who wants to handle it right then and there, and “Let’s get it over with.” She needs to think about it and talk through it. I think that was a big part in the first year of our marriage—really understanding each other, and where we were at, and how we liked to process things.
Bob: Our relationship, as husband and wife, should have, at its core, a passionate commitment to want to see the other person in our marriage thrive, to see them excel, to see them be the person God wants them to be. God wants us to experience, in marriage, a taste of the joy that the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit have experienced in their union/in their oneness throughout eternity as they have loved one another with perfect unity. God says, “I want your marriage to give you a taste of the joy that We’ve experienced and the joy that you’re invited into, as a son or daughter of God, and that you will experience for eternity with Us as you surrender your life to Christ.” That’s what this study is all about—that kind of love.
Some of you, who are very practically-minded people, you may find yourself a little frustrated in this series, thinking, “I looked through the manual. Where’s the section o sex?” or “…finances?” or “…communication?” or “…parenting?” or “…conflict resolution?” Those are all common issues we face in marriage—and they’re not unimportant issues—they’re issues that need to be addressed, and biblical wisdom needs to be brought to those issues.
What I’m suggesting in this series is that: “Before we focus on those issues, let’s focus on the foundation. Let’ s make sure we understand what love is. Let’s make sure we understand what we’re to build our marriage on. If we understand what love is and if we get the foundation right, that’s going to affect our communication; that’s going to affect our conflict resolution, our parenting, our finances, our sexual intimacy. All of those manifestations of love/all those practical realities of love will grow best when they grow in the soil of the kind of love that’s defined for us here in the Bible.”
Let’s get ready to look carefully at what the Bible says real love looks like.
Bob: We’ve been listening, again, to an excerpt from the new Love Like You Mean It video series that’s about to be released by FamilyLife®—a series for couples to go through with other couples in a small group; a mentor couple with a younger couple; husband and wife could go through this on their own and have a conversation about it. We want couples to start thinking more biblically about love.
Ann: Okay; what if I’m a wife, who has a husband, who isn’t interested?
Bob: I think you could say to your spouse, “Hey, I want to show you a ten-minute video clip.”
Ann: Good idea.
Bob: Show him the first half of Session One and say, “Is this something we could do together?” or “…do with other couples?” I think a lot of spouses/maybe a lot of husbands—they hear about something like this—and they go, “Oh, I don’t want to. This is just going to be ten sessions of torture for me.”
Ann: —“of what I should do.”
Bob: That’s right. And maybe watching a little bit of it, they would go, “Yes, this would be okay.”
Dave: I’d just say to the man: “Dude, do this; do this. I mean it! You don’t think this is going to help? There’s one thing: to do it [watch] with your wife; that’s great. You do it [watch] with other couples; and you see how real/their marriage and your marriage are similar in struggles. You hear God’s Word; God’s going to show up and do something.”
Bob: Couples, who have been through your Vertical Marriage® video series, this could be the follow-up from that.
Dave: Perfect follow-up.
Ann: That’d be great.
Bob: And couples, who haven’t gone through Vertical Marriage, should check it out as well. In fact, you can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to find out more about the new Love Like You Mean It video series, or about the Vertical Marriage video series, or about the Art of Marriage® video series, Art of Parenting® video series, the Stepping Up® video series. We’ve got a lot of resources available. You’ll find the information on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call if you have any questions. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Call to order the Love Like You Mean It video series or if you have any questions about any of the other series we have available.
I just want to say a word of thanks to those of you who support the ministry of FamilyLife® and make these resources possible, especially our monthly Legacy Partners. Legacy Partners provide the financial stability/the backbone for this ministry, month in and month out. You make it possible for us to consistently provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families. You keep this program on the air on your local station and on stations all around the country, so thank you for your partnership with us. We hope you realize there are hundreds of thousands of husbands and wives/moms and dads, who are benefitting every day as a result of your financial investment. We appreciate you, and we’re grateful for your partnership.
We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about the unusual place the Bible begins in defining what real love looks like—the first word/the first description for love. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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