FALLING? OR CHOOSING?
“They have … a phrase — `free-love’ — as if a lover ever had been, or ever could be, free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover… the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him…; they do not write his oath upon the heavens, as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants.” — G.K. Chesterton
Why wedding vows? Have you ever considered this?
Why does a priest, pastor, or judge ask a man, “Will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?” Why does he ask the man to promise? Is he not in love? Won’t this suffice?
Someone recently told me he’d fallen out of love with a girl.
“That can happen, huh?” I asked. “Sure. It just wasn’t there anymore.” “And you want to get married one day?” “Definitely.”
What then? If like most people, he wants to marry, how does he navigate the perils of falling in and out of love?
Like Chesterton says, he binds himself. He promises to be there, to do that which we call loving.
Whenever one reads of love in the scriptures, one comes across commands and commitments; very little hinges on feeling. “Love so-and-so…Do this for this person…Do that for that one…”
Love seems to rest in the fulfilling of these acts. One performs and the other is loved.
Similarly, God, having chosen his people, speaks of his commitment to them. He makes a covenant in Genesis. The thread of this promise runs through the law, the Psalms, the wisdom books, the prophets, the gospels, Acts, the epistles, and finally, Revelation. He’s bound himself to these people and continues to show them love, comforting, honoring and keeping them. He remains faithful.
Want proof? Glamour magazine recently ran an online article about making someone fall in love with you. One piece of advice: don’t do something for the one you are interested in, but let them do something for you. Doing something for someone increases feelings for them. The choice to act, and the act itself, precedes the feelings in at least one way. Glamour said it. Case closed.
We choose to love. We’re too flooded with cultural visions of cupid striking us. Some of that predestined thinking about love seduces us, but it doesn’t bind us. The free will kind of love, where we choose to make and fulfill a promise, really binds us. And sometimes makes us feel woozy.
Responsibility, in and for love, belongs to us, not to the stars. Feelings ebb and flow, but neither feelings nor a fat kid with wings determine the depth of fidelity; that’s merely a euphemism for cowardice.
How do you define love?
Why make a vow to love someone?
What do you think of Chesterton’s assessment of love’s binding?
© Revolworks 2006