I have done a lot of thinking about what love is within the context of relationships between single Christian men and women, and I wanted to write something about that today. My topic is the place of actions and feelings as they relate to love. I will be using some lessons learned from my last two relationships to explain why and how I think Christian men should love Christian women, and whether they should expect to feel “in love” while doing acts of love.
What is love?
OK, so first, what is love, especially what is the love that a man gives to a woman? Love is the set of actions performed by a man who decides to move a willing responsive woman closer to God, even if it takes a lot of work and even if it doesn’t make him feel happy. Love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go. But the will to act to move another person toward God has to be remain constant if you want to love someone. A person who gives love may feel things, but that is not the point of the decision to act. In both of my relationships with women, my plan was to support each woman in her relationship with God.
So, with both of these women there was an opportunity to love because both women desired to be effective for God, and both needed support to reach their goals. So long as a woman is willing to respond to my efforts to move her closer to God, then I can choose to love her. In fact, when I am deciding who to befriend, the biggest criteria is her willingness to grow in her relationship with God, and especially to become more effective in serving him. You can’t love someone who doesn’t want to move closer to God and to serve him more.
How do you love a woman who is willing to be led into a better relationship with God? Well, I use words, service, gifts, time, money, effort, etc. as tools to drive a willing and responsive woman towards a stronger relationship with God, one in which she offers God MORE VALUE than she did before. I call these kinds of actions “acts of love”, because I perform actions which aim to support her by protecting her from lies and temptation, providing her with resources like books and debates, and giving her guidance about the overall direction she should be heading in, like studying the economic policies that help and hurt the strength of the family.
How do I feel about doing acts of love?
Some people think that the purpose of relationships is to have the feeling of being “in love” and that when you no longer have that feeling, then you are free to give up on your acts of love, and seek for the feeling from someone else. And that raises some questions about acts of love vs being “in love”. Can we men get the feeling of being “in love” from acts of love to grow a woman towards God? Should that even be the goal of our efforts?
What I learned in my relationships is that there is a tremendous feeling of honor and glory that slowly builds as you put more and more time and effort into building up a willing responsive woman, so that she can fulfill her desire to serve God effectively. My relationships are chaste, so there is no touching to cloud my judgment. Instead, I feel good because of a woman’s vulnerability to me, her trust in my desire to serve her. I also feel good because of her recognition of me for protecting her from lies and sin, providing her with what she needs to learn, and her willingness to let me lead her in a good direction.
Acts of love performed by a man should not be conditional on having feelings of being “in love”. Feelings are the caboose of the love train. The locomotive is the decision to act and the carrying out that decision with actions, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year – with no feelings of being “in love” expected. You only get to quit if the women starts to resist your leadership, protection and providing for her. So long as she is working towards God, gaining strength and being effective, it makes sense to keep loving her with actions.
What about being in love?
Yes, I do have periods when I “fall in love” and have feelings of being in love while doing acts of love.
Here are my symptoms:
- flushed face
- butterflies in stomach
- tingly fingers
- impossible to concentrate
- back overheating
- 15 e-mails a day to communicate my feelings about her in detail
- shortness of breath
- lump in throat
- constant smiling
- frequent prayer for God about her
My most recent descent into being in love occurred when looking at the changes in the second woman’s wish list and seeing her desires change. She used to be quite liberal on fiscal and foreign policy issues, and cautious about men’s abilities to be responsible, as well. But that has been changing recently as she gets used to being loved well.
A few weeks back, she updated her wish list with lots of solid Christian books on marriage, love, sex and parenting. I remember seeing the new books on the list for the first time and reading the negative reviews of the books from angry liberals and feminists who did not like the idea of a woman having to do anything for a man or for her children. I immediately ordered 2 copies of each book so we could go through them together.
She recently added “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin to her wish list, as well as “On Guard” by William Lane Craig, and “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, a book highly recommended by my favorite married couple, Andrew and Jen. Her desires were changing before my eyes and I was paralyzed with love and excitement for several hours because of those changes. I could not eat or even get up from my chair!
I realized as I looked over the books that she really was willing to at least study some of the ideas that I think are consistent with a Christian worldview in some other areas, and that I was going to be allowed to help her by reading these books with her. She was willing to let me lead because she felt that I was leading her in the right direction. This is what works to make me fall in love, at least for a couple of days.
Men should choose women based on their willingness to be led towards God and supported in their growth. Men should not expect to feel in love, and not feeling in love is not a reason to quit. Men should expect to do acts of love for the woman to support her growth in her Christian faith, and he should expect to feel honorable and purposeful as he executes his duty. Men should expect to slip into being “in love” for short periods of time, especially when the woman recognizes and responds to his leadership by studying to change her mind.
Related posts on chastity, chivalry, courtship and marriage
- The Wintery Knight’s greatest fears about the future
- How to communicate requirements to a Christian woman during courtship
- How feminism made women unsuitable for marriage and parenting
- Why men should refuse a woman’s offer of casual sex
- What has Michele Bachmann got that third-wave feminists haven’t got?
- How Christian women can make Christian men marry without using sex appeal
- John Piper’s questions to ask before you get married
- Does a man’s decision to marry negatively impact his service to God?
- The rules for friendship and courtship between Christians
- What Christian men want from Christian women… in paintings!
- Why Christian men should be chaste
- Should Christians marry non-Christians?