Question: How do we love the Lord with all our mind, all our heart and all our strength...and even more than your wife or girlfriend without it being weirdly homosexual? I love Jesus, but I find it difficult to understand how Jesus is meant to fill the void of loneliness for a male who is single and desires to be married or in a relationship. God Bless.

Answer: Greetings friend. I will be pleased to respond to your question today. In addition, I will pray during the week that God will guide you to the perfect person for you, a person who loves God, a person who will add, and not take away from your services to him. But before I extol the advantages of a relationship with a godly woman, let's hear from the apostle Paul. Paul taught that if an individual Christian were the type of person who could remain single, then he should remain single, because a single person can serve Christ with greater focus than a person who is married.

“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided...” (1 Corinthians 7:32–34, ESV)

In the case of a person who chooses to remain single in order that he may serve the Lord with greatest efficiency, Jesus Christ would be his portion. There would be no loneliness—no void—and he would lack nothing by dedicating himself in this way. Please note that such a dedication would be asexual, and not "weirdly homosexual." But most of us will seek a spouse, and God blesses that too. We just need to be aware that it is normal (and proper) for a spouse to pay attention to the needs of the other spouse, but that this normal attention acts like an anchor rather than like a sail in the service of Christ. There is nothing wrong with marriage. It does, by its nature, divide your resources, but if the union with a good woman is God's gift to you, then you must feel free to love that woman with all your mind, heart and strength too...just keep God first. These are not mutually exclusive. And because they are not mutually exclusive, they are not the problem that your question presupposes.

Please note also that God does not want your sexual affection. That is for your spouse. What he does want is your reasonable service given who he is: the Sovereign Lord of the Universe...and the only reasonable service for such a being is to keep him in the absolute highest position in your mind, heart and body. We will talk about what this means for love later in the answer, but for now, let us listen to Jesus as he teaches us to hate...yes, I said hate!

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, ESV)

Although the word hate kind of pops right off the page, Jesus is really teaching about love. How so? The Bible does not always use the word hate as we commonly use it today, to indicate emotional disparagement. Indeed, in the above verse Jesus is not telling us to gnash our teeth as we emotionally hate our father, mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—or even our own lives. Knowing Jesus, that would be nonsensical! Instead, he is telling us that in order to be his disciples, we must place him first in our lives. The nature of such an act is that no one else could thereafter be first, so placing God first always happens at the expense of father, mother, etc. But in God's being first, others are not lowered in this process. Any mature Christian will tell you that all relationships fall into place when God is in the first place. In this context, the word hate means to set at a lower priority, and that's the kind of love that God wants. He must be first in devotion, first in work, first in study and first in your use of resources. And if a believer does indeed place him first, he will find himself obeying God without violating any of his other relationships.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31–33, ESV)

So far, we've covered some of the biblical directives for relationships and priorities, but one thing remains. We need to discuss what the Bible means by the term love. Just as we need to differentiate the biblical use of the word hate from its contemporary meaning, so must we do with the word love. The type of love referred to in your question, the one typified in a romantic relationship, is rarely found in Scripture. We understand this type of love to have an emotional/sexual affection as the primary component. Biblical love, on the other hand, can be better understood in terms of service to others. Emotion might be present, but it is not a necessary component. Biblical love is shown when a person prefers others to self—and again, this is not an emotion gush—but a levelheaded choice to serve another...and often at the expense of one's self.

Even in a marriage where emotional love abounds, this is the kind of love that keeps the relationship vital through the years. Even though a husband and wife have much more to share with each other than with people of the outside world, they must still also love each other with the exact same kind of love that they show to other people as well as to God himself. This love is pure—outside of and beyond sex—and it can never be considered inappropriate for a man to love the man Jesus Christ in this way. Do not carry that unnecessary burden. True love cannot be homosexual...or anything sexual, for that matter. Every Christian should love every person, male or female, without the fear of appearing sexually attracted.

Now for the bad news. Since we've established that the affectionate kind love is different from the biblical kind of love, then we can move forward and perform loving actions to other people. But here's the rub: you will be called upon to do acts of Christian service to persons whom you dislike...or even (emotionally) hate! But (and note this well) performing these works of sacrifice and obedience is love. The doing-of-it, and not the feeling-of-it, is the love. Once you have freed yourself from the idea that you must "love" everybody in a squishy-mushy kind of way, then you can get down to God's business. Loving the unlovable. This he did with us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

(End). 

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