This was a fine title for a Billboard 100 top hit by Percy Sledge in 1966, but it’s a really bad foundation for marriage. As we discussed in last week’s Thought Tool, feelings are frighteningly fragile. A man can fall instantly in love with a woman, but he can also fall out of love just as quickly. Any woman foolish enough to accept a marriage proposal on the basis of how much a guy loves her must be equally amenable to dissolving the marriage when, one day, he confesses that he no longer feels that way.
Turning to the brilliance of the Bible, where might we expect to find a man loving a woman? It would have plucked a sentimental chord in my soul had the first chapters of Genesis assured me that in the Garden of Eden, Adam loved Eve. Alas, no such declaration can be found.
Perhaps the founder of monotheism, Abraham, loved his beautiful wife, Sarah? I’m sure he did, but Scripture neglects to mention it.
Instead, we find that Samson loved Delilah (Judges 16:4). That didn’t end too well. How about the wisest man that ever lived, King Solomon? Well, even very smart men can make terrible mistakes and King Solomon loved many foreign women. (I Kings 11:1) Not much good came from this either.
King David had a son, Amnon, who loved his half-sister Tamar. (II Samuel 13:1) Regarding feelings as paramount, Amnon raped Tamar after which, Scripture records, he then hated her more than he once loved her. (II Samuel 13:15) Again this man loving woman stuff never seems to end well.
Here’s another fellow convinced that his feelings are all-important. Shechem the son of Chamor loved Jacob’s daughter, Dina (Genesis 34:3) He raped her leading to her brothers massacring him and his family. Why won’t anyone learn that when a man loves a woman trouble follows?
To report accurately on all Biblical instances of a man loving a woman, we ought also to mention the very first time this phrasing is used. Abraham’s son, Isaac, loved his wife Rebecca. (Genesis 24:67) According to ancient Jewish wisdom, even this exemplary man’s love for his wife subtly distorted his vision, contributing to his having weakened eyes. (Genesis 27:1) This left him vulnerable to his son Esau’s verbal seduction.
Isaac loved Esau because he (Esau) hunted him (Isaac) with his mouth,
and Rebecca loves Jacob.
The last case we’ll examine is Jacob, who loved Rachel. (Genesis 29:18). It didn’t take long for domestic turbulence to raise its head. By loving Rachel, he inadvertently left her sister, Leah, feeling hated. (Genesis 29:30-31)
At this point, it would be both prudent and truthful for me to state that not only do I love my wife, but I favor all men loving their wives. However, that sentiment must not be the basis for the relationship. Marriages must be rationally approached and then based on commitment. The Biblical examples I cited warn that when a man allows his behavior with women to be dictated by his emotions, his judgment is often compromised.
There is no problem in loving God with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:5) or in a parent loving a child (Genesis 22:2) but when a man bases his actions and behavior upon his feelings of love for a woman he risks making a fool of himself or considerably worse. In other words, men do far better in matters of love when they act according to the dictates of their heads rather than their hearts.
What about women loving men? That is a topic in itself. Despite social scientists ardent desire for equivalence, men and women are different. In my audio set, Madam I’m Adam-Decoding Marriage Secrets of Eden, comprising 2 CDs and a full color study guide, I look at both sides of many male/female relationship secrets which God embedded in Scripture. Please make it part of your marriage enrichment program. Coupled with Chana Levitan’s book, I Only Want to Get Married Once, it makes a powerful tool with which to bless another couple who could use a reminder of how the world really works.