Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? 1st Corinthians?
One of the things that gets me about 1st Corinthians is that we have perhaps the most often quoted verses on love but, oh wait, we have two of the most hotly debated passages in the bible just pages away (1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 that describes how women should be ashamed for not covering their heads to pray or if they cut their hair; 1 Corinthian 14: 34 – 35 about women should remain silent in church).
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, I am concerned that he was giving too much credit to his future readers. I have heard many a pastor contort a meaning out of chapters 11 and 14 until they can explain away why women should not be offended. But, frankly, I don’t mind these supposedly offensive verses. They are so OUT THERE that I just have to suspend my disbelief on those and ask God about it someday.
What REALLY gets to me is how I used to interpret 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, the standard wedding reading. Love is “this, this, and this…” and if you don’t have those things, it must not be love.
Maybe I was confused between love and loving relationships. The only relationship that is pure and perfect love is the way God loves us. Our earthly relationships with our loved ones are not pure love. Other things get in there: our weaknesses, sins, our earthly desires.
We are sinners and, therefore, we can’t measure our love for each other by whether we’re patient, kind, not boastful or envious, not arrogant or rude, not insisting on our own way, not irritable or resentful. If this was the way we measured love than the only people getting married would be those who sin the least. After all, we’re called to love everyone so if we’re measuring the existence of love by the existence of the biblical definers of love (patient, kind, etc.), we might as well match up people by measuring their tendency to sin.
I am an impatient person. My friend is very patient. She does not love more or better than I love.
No offence to Paul but I think he could have clarified. God promises that perfect love is all those things but love is not absent where those things are absent. Love is just clouded and the size of the cloud is no indication of the amount of love.