1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Right now, I am taking a class on Romans to Revelation. Unfortunately, a set of books I have not had much time to dive into because I had taken too many classes in undergraduate to take Paul and his letters for credit (which meant lack of involvement). However, because trends upset me and I always like to know true definition before following something–there are a few verses I get really into. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of them.
Typically–these verses are read at weddings. People hear the words about love and they want to be reminded about what it means and how to live in Christian love with your spouse. You know what I say to that–STOP! Being that I got married recently, I spent a lot of times deciding on what verses were to be read at Shawn and I’s wedding. This was suggested to me, but I quickly turned against it for the following reason (FYI I read Genesis 1, Matthew 25, Song of Solomon was on the cover and another verse I cannot remember but it was about keeping each other strong in the faith.) Anyways, here’s my issue with 1 Cor. 13:
THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE LOVE OF A MAN AND WOMAN. Paul’s letter to Corinth was not about love between spouses (though could apply, not the focus). If you really want something like that from Corinthians, read chapter 7. And even then, its about preparing yourself for marriage. The term love in this section is agape, which in Paul’s definition is not erotic love between spouses but self-giving love. It is the same love that Christ gave for humanity. And though it is appropriate to remember for a partnership, it is always what we are called to do as Christians towards others. I do not typically refer to the King James Bible but I think it does a better job of pointing people in the right direction. It uses the word “charity.” It’s not the fru-fru love either–with no depth. I would argue that agape love is deeper than any other love because it is by definition an emptying of one’s self into another. And Christ is the perfect example of this. This is the whole point of the Corinthians letter for Paul. The church in Corinth was abusing rituals, disputing understandings and incorporate whatever they felt was ok into the gospel message, creating disunity within the fellowship. (why does that sound like today for some reason?) The point of the gospel is to unity believers under one message that Christ is Lord and that makes believers look different that their pagan neighbors for they portray faith, hope and love in Christ. Paul throughout the letter then explains WHAT that looks like.
So, the next time you come across a trend–take a moment and figure out where it came from and try to understand its true meaning BEFORE standing behind it. We are in Christ’s flock first–we are not meant to be sheep of the world.