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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Love Stinks

The J. Geils Band, founded in Boston and generally remembered as a feel-good, party band in the 1970's and 80's released an album entitled Love Stinks in 1980. The title track made the Billboard Top 40, and the LP peaked at number 18 on the album charts. The song Love Stinks is an ode denigrating the concept of romantic love.

I remember liking this song; it had an infectious beat, a funny video and it fit into an ethos that resonated with a lot of young men - and probably women, too - real love was way too dangerous, tricky and painful. Maintaining a relationship with a woman was hard work, darn it, and wasn't it easier to just maintain casual relationships that were fun and didn't come with all the drama?

Confession time...

I married young. Really young. Eighteen-years-old-young.

By the time Love Stinks was released, my marriage was already in trouble. I'm sure there are some eighteen-year-olds out there that can marry and have a great relationship until the day they die. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of them. I could go on and on about the why's and wherefors of how my first marriage unraveled. I could even pile on and talk about what a HUGE mistake my second marriage was. But all that would be just beating around the bush. The fact is, I had no idea what love was all about. I didn't know what it was, what it took to find love, where to look, what to do with it once I found it and most importantly, how to take care of it and make it grow into something spectacular over time.

I put it forward that there are very few people in the world today who really have a bead on true love. What shapes our view of love in the world today? Are all of us growing up without the necessary foundation we need to recognize exactly what love is?

I browse a lot of news sites on the web; NPR, MSN, CNN, Slate, local newspaper sites and more. Of these, Slate seems to be the most hip. I don't have time for a survey, but I would guess that younger people would be more attracted to Slate than the others - it seems somehow more edgy, more modern.

Looking on Slate today, I can't say I'm surprised that there were at least three articles on pornography. One was talking about how today's pornography would be better if it wasn't for the demeaning nature of how the women were treated. This, according to the author, was due in great measure to the founders of some well-known men's magazines. If these guys didn't hate women so much, pornography would be fine. Really?

Perhaps the most disturbing article bemoaned the lack of sex education in public schools and even went as far as saying we should adopt the Dutch model, incorporating the concept of pleasure into any sex education programs we administer to young people. A sociologist referenced in the Slate article quoted research showing that the Dutch model, where parents accept their minor children's relationships and even let them have sleepovers with sex partners, results in much better health outcomes for teenagers.

Excuse me?

If I didn't know how to find, process and nurture love as an eighteen-year-old, how on earth are younger teenagers going to learn it from parents letting them have intimate sleepovers with their young paramours?

In my humble opinion, there is only one place where we need to be steering each other to learn about love.

Ask yourself this question: Who invented love?

If you answered God, go to the head of the class.

The first three words of the Bible say, "In the beginning..." The book of Genesis then goes on to chronicle creation and subsequent events. One of the most important of these was the partnership of man and woman. God didn't put Adam and Eve together and say, "Okay you two, give it your best shot; and if it doesn't work out..."

A lot of folks like to pick out verses that seem to cast a negative light on women and love relationships with men. Despite his reputation as a hard-liner, I think Paul said it well in Ephesians 5:25, 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church...' and a few lines later in verse 28, 'In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies...' In those two verses Paul laid it out as plain as it gets. Men, ask yourself if you're loving your wife as Christ loves the church (his people) or even as much as you love yourself.

You know why my first two marriages failed? Because I didn't know what love was. I had some weird view of love based on the fractured relationship of my parents coupled with a vast panoply of societal influences that had absolutely nothing to do with love. In truth, my ex-wives could have said to me, 'Your love stinks,' and been accurate.

Unlike J. Geils' assertion, it's not love that stinks - it's (usually) our love that stinks. We need to learn what love is before we can have love, receive love and give love. And as usual, the answer is easy to find, if you know where to look.

What do you think?


Author's note: As of today, I've been married more than 22 years to my lovely wife. I'm still learning how to love her the way I'm supposed to, but God is helping me through the learning process every day.

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