Intoxicated by Love

We often say that we love all sorts of things. We love books, songs, shirts, movies, coffee, pizza, dogs, a sports team, or our spouses. It can be confusing when we use the same word to talk about two radically different things. After all, we don’t love the show Matlock the same way we love our spouse. But the overuse of the word “love” points to a larger issue that Solomon addresses in Proverbs 5.

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.Proverbs 5:18

Solomon explains that love is not primarily an emotion we feel or a preference for one person or thing over another. Instead, as Solomon shows us, love is a verb; it’s a way of acting toward another person with whom we have a relationship. Solomon tells his son how to love his wife with his actions. First, he should protect his relationship with her by avoiding the adulterous woman (v. 3) at all costs (v. 8). Note that while Solomon is writing specifically to his son; the “adulterous woman” could equally apply to adulterous men.

Second, he tells his son to cultivate a relationship with her to the point that he is “ever . . . intoxicated with her love” (v. 19). While the context of this passage is sexual, we shouldn’t think Solomon’s advice refers only to sex—he is talking about the entire marriage relationship.

Solomon paints a picture of love based on more than emotion (though love is emotion) and more than affection or preference (though both are meant too). Solomon’s depiction of love is oriented toward specific actions, namely protection and cultivation. Most marriages have rough spots because humans marry other humans, and that’s why it’s so important to realize that loving our spouse isn’t primarily a feeling we have about them. 

Compare Solomon’s depiction of love as action to our modern understanding of love and marriage. Is it the same or different from how we view love and fidelity today?

R. Meek

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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