Love Is a Choice

COMMENTARY: Christ offers more for our relationships than the world does: He redeems love. And if we choose it, we become holy when we love as he loves and as he intended.

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By the looks of the world, love is failing. One look at statistics or most box-office plotlines reveals little else but broken relationships, divorce and the ever-increasing devastation of pornography.

It may be dark times for us — we could even call it a crisis — when it comes to authentic love. God never intended it that way. But there is always hope.

First of all, Love himself is our hope. Second, while the porn-laden Fifty Shades of Grey opens in theaters, other films like Old Fashioned (opening in select theaters the same weekend) remind us that human love has been redeemed and that there is so much beauty in relationships where man and woman love each other as a whole person, rather than being reduced to a sexual object.

Most people in the world go into a relationship thinking, “What can I get?” rather than “What can I give?”

Most people in the world try to find the perfect someone to fill their deepest needs and insecurities, someone who makes them feel good.

Hence, hooking up.

I can safely bet that the world’s relationships are failing because they don’t understand what authentic love is.

Looking at everyday media, the world’s definition of love is pleasure, instant-gratification pleasure. It’s focused on self and what the self is getting, rather than on the other.

Authentic love, on the other hand, focuses on the other. It wills the good; it seeks to give of itself; it’s based on mutual respect.

“Love is patient, love is kind …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

This all sounds wonderful, but it’s hard in practice.

In the film Old Fashioned, the main character, Clay Walsh, finds himself attracted to a free-spirited girl, Amber Hewson, who’s new in town, and their relationship challenges each other. Clay has strong opinions and theories about Godly romance. Amber’s never heard of these views, but she’s intrigued. And Clay finds that applying these theories to the girl he’s interested in is a different story.

Underneath her cheery smile, this girl is wounded, fearful and broken.

And it’s only in accepting the brokenness of the other that the couple is able to love authentically. It’s seeing the other with the eyes of grace and saying, “Challenge accepted.”

Love is a choice.

So, great, that’s what love is, as St. Paul reminds us. But where does that leave us when it comes to dating, since the worldly mentality doesn’t offer anything good?

We should aim for the mean. Aristotle says that virtue is the mean between two extremes. If the world says we should hook up, and the opposite is that we take dating far too seriously, then we should date intentionally.

What do I mean? We treat dating as what it is: simply getting to know another person. But in being intentional, we should be clear and state our intentions after a few dates, that is, whether or not we’re willing to move forward or not. At some point, after having gotten to know that person, we make a choice and commit either way.

And while we date, we keep in mind that we should have standards, and we shouldn’t settle. But we still need to keep in mind that a spouse will never be perfect and won’t perfect us.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we accept glaring red flags; it does, however, mean that we stop looking for perfection, because such a person doesn’t exist.

Our fulfillment is only found in Christ.

But Christ offers more for our relationships than the world does: He redeems love. And if we choose it, we become holy when we love as he loves and as he intended.

Therese Aaker writes from Denver.