Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud
10th February 2020
Last week we were discussing issues around sex and relationships in the GCSE Religious Studies class and it led to a discussion about the nature of love. One of the girls, reflecting on how the experience of love in a marriage might change, used the analogy of how her feelings of love for her friend (who she was sitting next to) was initially full of excitement of the new, but that over time it had morphed into something different yet related, but with more depth. I thought the analogy showed a degree of maturity in understanding that intensity of feeling does not necessarily equate with love and that what we mean by love may evolve over time or take different forms. However while intensity of feelings can be changeable (like the weather!) if it comes to lack the patience and kindness or is tainted by envy, boastfulness or pride as referred to in St Paul’s letter, then we may indeed doubt whether love is really present in a relationship.
In the week in which we mark Valentine’s Day it is worth considering the sort of love with which it is primarily associated – eros – the Greek word for romantic and sexual love and one of the ‘four loves’ identified by CS Lewis in his book of that very name. This is the love which dominates so much of our culture and also the minds of young teenagers! Many attitudes to sex and relationships have changed considerably in the past few decades so that there is greater freedom and acceptance of diversity in its expression, yet there is still the hope by most that they might one day happen upon the kind of love that has all the qualities recognised by St Paul. Although he was writing more specifically about agapeic love (a love that exists regardless of changing circumstances – a love that Christians would say is all but impossible, except for the Grace of God), his definition of love continues to resonate with young couples today and is still a favourite reading at weddings. There is no better definition.
Here it is in full –
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.