In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a work of which I am an ardent fan, Elizabeth Bennett wonders who first discovered the efficacy of destroying affection with verse. She declares that poetry must indeed kill love. In surprise, the oft maligned hero Fitzwilliam Darcy replies, “I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love.” Elizabeth disagrees, saying she is convinced “one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”
This week, in the spirit of Cupid, many will celebrate Valentine’s Day with written verse and amusing anecdotes. Husbands and wives will exchange words of tenderness, parents will confirm their fondness for their children, and friends will honor friends with declarations of warmth. Affirmations of affection will flood the store aisles, color our television screens, and even break into our newsfeed on Facebook.
Indeed, for all our advancements in the written word, society is filled with many varied and often twisted views of what love language must be. Television screenplays portray it in terms of rampant sex and unbridled lust—with innuendo and sarcasm often their companions. Many books on romance aren’t much better. Wanton behavior in our culture suggests we’ve missed the point entirely. Considering the rates of divorce, children with authority issues, and bewildered singles looking for attachment, maybe our society is, to quote a popular song, “looking for love in all the wrong places.” (Johnny Lee, Urban Cowboy,1980)
I Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV) has been labeled one of God’s love passages in the Bible. In it God’s kind of love is described as willing to wait patiently and kindly for others. This love doesn’t become jealous of others because of who they are or what they have. It doesn’t brag or exalt itself above others. God’s love puts others first. It is not easily angered, doesn’t seek revenge, or keep track of wrongs. God’s love seeks to find the good in others, protecting and defending them. His love has confidence in others, expecting good things for them. God’s love never stops loving.
Perhaps in the midst of our Valentine celebrations, we should stop and consider the One whose devotion to his creation wrote the book about loving. For all that we attempt in the name of professed love, His love never fails.