Is It Love Or Lust?

Valentines is coming, it is a day where we are supposed to celebrate love. Popular folklore says Valentinus was imprisoned for conducting marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to wed and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment he healed the jailers daughter. His last act was to write her a farewell message signed “Your Valentine” before his execution.

I used to be very apathetic about Valentines day. As our society increasingly confuses the meaning of real love, I am becoming a strong Valentines day supporter.  This year, the release of the movie 50 Shades of Grey for Valentines Day has me feeling nauseous. I don’t have to read the book or see the movie to know it doesn’t celebrate love. It romanticises lust. How do I know? New York Times book reviews are enough to tell me this is not the kind of relationship I would want to be in. Book reviews are enough to tell me this series is about lust and includes nothing remotely close to love. Real love is not self seeking, controlling, or characterized by the need to own another.  Seriously, who calls their most cherished love an “asset”?! 
I wonder, “why are women falling for this lie?” 
Lust is defined as
intense sexual desire or appetite
uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite;lecherousness.
a passionate or overmastering desire or craving
to have intense sexual desire
to have a yearning or desire; have a strong or excessive craving
I guess women fall for this kind of book and movie because they long to be the focus of some ones desire. As women, we are created with the longing to be found enchanting. To be found beautiful, and that for the one we love, we alone would be desired. As we grow from childhood, we wonder if we will ever be “the one” for someone else. In the book Captivating, Stasi Eldridge writes “every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty.” That is not to say that these are our only longings, but if we are honest with ourselves they are common to many women.  Lust masquerades as what we want and always fades into unfulfilled disappointment. 
As I read the definitions, lust shows itself for what it is. Selfish and self serving. Craving, appetite, desire are all “self” focused words.  It is all about satisfying ones own cravings and appetites. It is not concerned about what it good for the other person. If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who is selfish and never learns to care for you as well, you know how quickly this gets old.
The danger of a book or movie like 50 Shades of Grey is that it romanticises this idea of lust and holds the false promise that “happily ever after” with someone like this is possible. Who can honestly say they would want their sister, daughter, or niece in this kind of situation? 
When lust runs it’s course and we recognize it’s promises are empty, demeaning and unsatisfying we begin to realize what we really want is love. 
Love is so different. The greatest example is that expressed by Jesus who loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Valentinus, the namesake of Valentines day lived this selfless love, risking his life, he was compassionate and merciful offering comfort to those who were mistreated and tortured. He offered official marriage to those who needed what marriage offered, yet were denied it by the government the served and protected. Love is about others not ourselves. It puts what is best for someone else above what we want or even what might be best for us.
Love, even by the human definition is strikingly different than lust.
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend
a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
Intense sexual desire
to have love or affection for to have profoundly tender, passionate affection for
The definitions point to thinking of another.  Care for another is expressed. The definitions for lust are grossly self absorbed by contrast.
The greatest definition of true love is found in God, his word spells it out for us. Love is more than a feeling. True love is evidenced in action. 1 Corinthians defines it for us. This definition of love forms the foundation of all love, platonic and romantic.
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. 
Love never fails.
These actions require self control on our own part. To love this way, we do not give into our selfishness. Lust is all about satisfying our own selfishness. No self control is needed. Lust demands only that we meet our own selfish desires. Love sets itself apart, it is so distinctly other focused and it demands the best of us. Love sets the bar high and helps us strive to be our best self. 

This is how I want to be loved and it is how I want to express love. I am so thankful for my husband. He does his best to love me like this and I do try to love him this way in return. Personally, I think he is much better at it! It is how we try to love our children and how we try to guide them to love one another. I desperately hope and pray with all my might that if they choose to love, the one they choose will love them like this.
I cannot lie, I hope the movie 50 Shades of Grey tanks at the box office. At the very least, I hope that those who go and see it recognize the empty promises it promotes. I hope that the self seeking lust displayed on screen becomes repugnant to them. One can hope, right? 

Most of all, I hope that real love shines bright in contrast, that they will go home and love the one they have chosen, well and true. That is my plan, this Valentines I will celebrate Jesus who showed me what real love is. I will celebrate the love I share with my guy, the one I chose to love forever on this earth. We will love on the children we have had the pleasure of being blessed with! 

I hope the love that was recognized and started the celebration of this day will again be the love that defines it.

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