A Perfect Affection
“What God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:6
In earlier generations most folks accepted without question the concept of marriage as a lifetime commitment. My father‐in‐law, James Dobson Sr., was no exception. This is what he said to his fiancée after she agreed to become his wife:
I want you to understand and be fully aware of my feelings concerning the marriage covenant we are about to enter. I have been taught at my mother’s knee, in harmony with the Word of God, that the marriage vows are inviolable, and by entering into them I am binding myself absolutely and for life. The idea of estrangement from you through divorce for any reason at all [although God allows one—infidelity] will never at any time be permitted to enter into my thinking. I’m not naive in this. On the contrary, I’m fully aware of the possibility, unlikely as it now appears, that mutual incompatibility or other unforeseen circumstances could result in extreme mental suffering. If such becomes the case, I am resolved for my part to accept it as a consequence of the commitment I am now making and to bear it, if necessary, to the end of our lives together.
I have loved you dearly as a sweetheart and will continue to love you as my wife. But over and above that, I love you with a Christian love that demands that I never react in any way toward you that would jeopardize our prospects of entering heaven, which is the supreme objective of both our lives. And I pray that God Himself will make our affection for one another perfect and eternal.
James and Myrtle Dobson enjoyed a loving, committed, fulfilling marriage that began in 1935 and ended with his death in 1977. They never wavered for a moment through all those years. If you approach your own marriage with this determination, you’ll establish a stable, rewarding relationship that will last a lifetime.
– Shirley M Dobson
Loving Beyond Limits
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:8
Perhaps you’ve heard someone in a failed relationship say, “We always loved each other, but we just couldn’t get along.” They may have loved much, but they didn’t know how to love well.
First Corinthians 13 is great counsel on how to love well in marriage. Loving well is the most essential ingredient for even the most spiritual people. For one thing, loving well brings music to our words (see verse 1). In times of trouble, we can be suspicious of the things our spouse says to us. If our actions don’t show love, words of love will only clang in our hearts. But loving behavior makes even our most mundane conversations melodic.
Similarly, loving well adds muscle to our faith (see verse 2). It doesn’t matter what kinds of obstacles we overcome or what kinds of insights we have; without acting in love toward those closest to us, even the greatest spiritual accomplishments turn to dust.
Finally, loving well brings value to our sacrifices (see verse 3). In marriage, we often sacrifice for our partner, but there can be a point at which we start keeping track of what those efforts cost us. When we love well, even the smallest sacrifices become treasures rather than points scored.
Verses 4–7 are practical reminders for marriage.
Verse 4: When he is thoughtless and inconsistent, “love is patient.” When she hurts you, “love is kind.” When other couples have what you want, love “does not envy.” When you were right and he was wrong, love “does not boast.” When you did a better job than she did, love “is not proud.”
Verse 5: When you know your spouse hates it when you are habitually late, love “does not dishonor others.” When no one thinks of you—your needs, your feelings, your desires or your rights—love “is not self-seeking.” When you’ve had a long day and you’re tired, or when she seems to be taking potshots at you, love “is not easily angered.” When your spouse doesn’t say “I’m sorry” for some offense, love “keeps no record of wrongs.”
Verse 7: When he or she is taking a pounding from the world, your love, like a roof overhead, “protects.” When you’ve been hurt or disappointed or betrayed, love “trusts.” When no one notices how much you care or how often you cry, love “hopes.” And when your love has been abused and questioned, when the door has been slammed in your face, when you’ve been completely ignored, love “perseveres.”
Of course, if we’re honest with one another, we have to admit that none of us measures up to the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. No matter how much we love our spouse, loving well is too hard for us. That is why our relationship with Christ and the infilling of the Holy Spirit are so crucial. The Lord expects us to do our best—to throw our hearts and wills into all aspects of loving well. But when we’ve reached the limit of our ability, stunted by our sinfulness and weakness, we can pray for grace to do better. God can dial down our selfishness, release us from our insecurities and scorekeeping, and refresh our delight in our partner, so that we can begin to know the blessing of loving well.
(I was speaking with the Lord about my inability to Love past the pain (years later, bitterness develops). Read Beauty SS 7:10’s Love Dare: Day 4 post…
This, above is His response (found in my email today, from BibleGateway.com).