What’s Love Got to Do with It?
In 1984, Tina Turner released the second biggest hit of the year, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” The world in which we live has lost the meaning of love, especially concerning the relationship between a man and a woman. The physical act of union is called “making love,” but from what I see portrayed in entertainment, love does not have anything to do with it. The world in which we live is lost, hopelessly lost, in its understanding of the marriage relationship. Much of this confusion has worked its way into the Church. Disagreements on a broad range of subjects from sex before marriage, cohabitation, divorce, and abortion should not surprise us since everybody is their own authority. I find the pooh-poohing of what God says to be disturbing.
Everybody has their opinion, especially on this subject. However, I ask that you consider what the Bible has to say. My opinion is not better than yours, but both my opinion and your opinion need to be subject to the Bible. Examine the Bible, and see what it has to say. If the Bible is the Word of God, and it is, then we can trust it on any subject.
Over the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, I intend to look at what the Bible says about marriage. By doing this, I hope to improve our marriages and answer the confusion that the world is continually pushing on our children and us. First, I will look at how marriage came to be, and in doing this, I am going to give a part of the answer to the question, “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
Marriage is God’s idea. He established it. As we look at this fact, we will understand the sacredness of the relationship between a husband and wife. Our starting place is in the first chapter of the Bible. In Genesis 1:27, it says that in the beginning, God created male and female. Look with me at Genesis 1:27.
Genesis 1:27 (NKJV) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
When God made the world and all that is in it, He also created people. Humanity started with two people - a man and a woman. This man and woman were created in God’s image. No other creature was made in the image of God. Horses, dogs, monkeys, and all other animals are not made in God’s likeness. These creatures are splendid examples of what God can do, and as God’s creations, they have His fingerprints all over them, and they show how great God is. However, they do not bear His image.
After saying that man was created in God’s image, Genesis 1:27 says, “...male and female He created them.” In this context, the word “man” is used in its inclusive historical sense and refers to both biological genders. The passage clarifies this by the statement “...male and female He created them.” The clear message of the passage is that both man and woman bear the image of God. Biological differences do not mean one is more like God. The Bible makes this clear when it says:
Galatians 3:27–29 (NKJV) 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The creation of men and women in the image of God is the starting place for understanding marriage, the sacredness of marriage, and what love has to do with it.
In contrast to what the Bible tells us about God creating the world and all that is in it, schools worldwide teach that all living things came into being through evolution. According to this theory, humans are nothing more than intelligent animals. Starting with this premise, God’s image, or likeness, is not part of the equation. There is no image of God. God is irrelevant if He is acknowledged at all. Some say God does not exist. However, influenced by the philosophy of this world, many live as if God does not exist.
Not acknowledging God and the image of God in man and woman is the source of the confusion concerning the relationship between men and women. If people are no more than animals, then the relationship between men and women is purely physical and meant for reproduction and the survival of the species. According to this way of thinking, marriage is a social construct that may or may not benefit the species by ensuring its offspring's safety, and “making love” is a euphemism that sounds nicer than the vulgar slang words that are used to describe it. Love has nothing to do with it.
As long as we do not acknowledge God, confusion will reign. We must remember what Provers 1:7 says.
Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The starting place for understanding love and marriage is knowledge of God, His purpose in creating marriage, and His standard of love. Let’s consider what God says about His design for “making love.”
What we call “making love,” the Bible calls “knowing.” Genesis 3:1 says:
Genesis 4:1 (NKJV) Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain...
The text uses the word “know” to indicate the nature of what happened between Adam and Eve. The Bible is not avoiding calling it what it is. It is defining what it is. For example, we use the word bathroom to indicate a natural process instead of using more explicit language. The process can be disgusting, and we do not want to create a picture of the process in our minds. So, we use a more pleasant idea to redirect our imaginations and yet communicate our meaning. This is not what the Scriptures are doing. The author is not avoiding a picture. The Bible is directing our minds to the truth of what happens between a husband and wife.
Just before telling us that Adam knew his wife, the Bible says:
Genesis 2:23–24 (NKJV) 23And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.
In English, Adam’s acknowledgment does not display poetic rhythm, but this text was originally written in Hebrew, and in Hebrew, Adam’s words are a poem.
Following Adam’s poem, the Bible says:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
The speaker changes with this sentence and the voice of the narrator takes over. When He says, “Therefore,” He means “for this reason.” The word “therefore” tells us the author wants us to draw a particular conclusion, or meaning, from Adam’s statement. Man and woman are made out of the same stuff. They are the same flesh. Therefore, they can be united in a way that no other creature can. Animals relate on a purely biological basis. They do not “know” each other. But, it is different in the man-woman relationship — a “one flesh” connection is formed.
Biological functions are not necessarily good or evil. Eating is a biological function that can be pleasant or unpleasant depending on what is being eaten, and it can be good or bad depending on how it is used. Some biological functions, such as going to the bathroom, are repulsive by nature even though they are not morally wrong.
However, the joining of a man and woman is much more than a biological function. The Bible calls it “knowing,” and between a husband and wife, it is good, very good. God said so when He created it. But, conversely, outside of marriage, it is bad, very bad. The Bible tells us:
Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV) Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
According to this passage, God blesses the marriage relationship but condemns those who put their biological urges before God’s design. Sex outside of marriage violates the sacredness of marriage. The marriage relationship is sacred because of the image of God in man and the uniting of two into one. Ignoring the purpose of marriage in this way does great damage both to individuals and society.
The Lord tells us:
1 Corinthians 6:16–18 (NKJV) 16Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” 17But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
What God creates functions as it was designed to function. Thus, if Adam and Eve had eaten fruit from the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever. So, God blocked their access to the tree to prevent this. According to 1 Corinthians 6, even a joining as casual as a business transaction has the effect it was designed for. For this reason, every other sin is considered external, but immorality is in a class all by itself.
I know that most of us know this stuff. But, I also know that most of us are not careful enough in what we allow our eyes and minds to do in the presence of the opposite sex. And, we know that these things are not innocent or harmless. Still, others who are listening may be living together. If this is you, God says that if we confess our sins, He will forgive us. So, recognize the seriousness of your situation and make it right. Either break it off or marry each other, but do not act as if it doesn’t matter. God says it matters.
The Bible is clear about how we are to treat each other. We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are told to treat others as more important than ourselves. Using each other to satisfy our desires sexually violates both of these commands. Sex is not love. Giving one’s life for the other is love. Love protects and provides. Love sacrifices self. In marriage, love provides the protection and environment for a man and woman to be united. Outside of marriage, there is no safety or protection, but we only hurt each other.
I know this is an old-fashioned way of thinking, but what is love?
Instead of defining love, I will quote for you what the Lord tells us love does.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (NKJV) 4Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
If we love each other, we will do these things for each other. That is what love has to do with it. Most of our marriages have problems because we do not do these things for each other. The uniting into one flesh has not failed. It always works according to design. Our failures in marriage can be condensed down to one cause - a failure to love. Love has everything to do with it.