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Love according to Corinthians

Updated on September 12, 2012

Living love truly

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

New International Version (NIV)

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

I’m not religious, but whenever I hear this passage read at weddings, as it so commonly is, I can’t help but think, “Those words really explain what true, pure love should look like,” but it’s so sad that so often people do not have the mental or emotional capacity to successfully live up to these words. Love can be exceptionally hard at times, whether it be romantic or platonic. But two people who take Corinthians to heart, who truly feel love as Corinthians explains it, should be able to solve any issue that may come between them. Still, so many relationships fall apart every day, in large part because it seems very few people truly knows how to live up to these words, or take to heart their meaning. People profess to one another how much they “love” each other, but I can’t help but feel that few really know what love actually is.

Reading over Corinthians, I see many places where I myself have not lived up to its expectations. For instance, many times I have been in relationships where I leave eventually because I do keep record of wrongs. In most of my past long-term relationships, I have had a hard time of letting go certain wrongs. I remember times when I have said I forgave someone I’m with for something, but then he did something similar later on and I couldn’t help but bring up the past wrong I said I had forgiven him for. Had I truly forgiven him for said wrong, I would not feel the need to bring it up again. I recall my exes getting quite upset with me because I kept bringing up the same four or five situations repeatedly. Because I couldn’t let certain situations go, I only ended up frustrating my exes and continuing the argument.

That being said, I must digress for a moment: I do not think it’s wrong to end a relationship where someone cannot respect you or your “deal breakers.” My interpretation of “Love…keeps no record of wrongs,” is that someone who loves another should forgive and let the issue go, if they claim the issue is no longer one. But if someone does you wrong over and over, and you are not being treated the way you deserve, you should shame yourself for ending the relationship because Corinthians says love keeps no record of wrongs. You must stay true to yourself, and see that you are getting your needs met (hopefully exceeded from time to time) by your significant other.

My most recent ex-boyfriend is, unfortunately, a great example of someone who falsely professes to be in love. I’m not taking a cheap shot, because I’m not angry with him. I feel sad for him that he, being someone who seemingly loves so many (friend and lovers) has no idea at all what it really means to truly love someone. For instance, Corinthians says “Love…always trusts,” but so often he would twist my words and use them against me, quite often in times when I was not at all upset with him. Every time he did this, he would get so upset it would start an argument. Literally at least 70 times through the three years I knew him I had to tell him, “I am not your enemy. Why do you make me out to be so horrible?” Had he actually trusted me, he would have taken me at my word and not gotten mad in the first place. But as it was he did get mad, and he never calmed down enough for me to rephrase what I said so that he could understand what I said the way I meant it and not the way he took it. He also would have trusted that I was not maliciously trying to attack him for no reason.

Corinthians says “Love…does not dishonor,” but after I left my ex, he did just that by filling in someone I was having a relationship with about my past sexual activities with my ex. He also decided to rant about how horrible I was in a very public online forum so all my friends and family could see. Had he truly loved me, he would have respected my privacy and the privacy of our relationship and not aired our dirty laundry to my friends and family, despite that he was clearly upset that he and I were no longer together.

After deciding that a casual relationship with my ex was too much for me (or him for that matter) to take, I cut all ties with him. Before he and I completely stopped talking, he begged me not to cut ties because he claimed he still loved me. Interestingly, after I stopped talking to him he became quite incensed and started being nasty to me and took his anger out on me. A few weeks later he contacted me to gloat about how wonderful it was that I had gotten out of his life because he found someone to take my place. Corinthians says that love is never boastful, but here he was, gloating about his new relationship. He had become so intensely upset at my choice to stop interacting with him that he seemed to come to hate me, almost overnight. If he really did love me, as he said he did, he would have respected my decision to stop talking to him and seen that I was making this decision for rational reasons, and not as a way to be vengeful to him. His behavior toward me after I refused to have him in my life makes it quite clear to me he has no true idea of what it actually means to love someone.

The last line of Corinthians states that “Love…always perseveres,” but so many relationships end and very rarely do two exes continue to love one another after the relationship is over. It may sound odd to love someone after you are no longer with them, but if you claim you loved someone while you were with them, then by Corinthian’s standards you should continue to care about your exes in one way or another even after you two part ways. If you no longer care at all about your ex after things are through, perhaps that’s a sign you never really loved that person in the first place.

Sadly, the word “ex” has such a negative connotation because most of the time people have nothing good to say about an ex. When asked about an ex, most people either shake their heads in aggravation at the memories of that person, or they start a rant of how awful that person was. If two people really truly loved one another when together, they should continue to love one another, or have a respect for one another, after the relationship ends. When two people who love each other part ways, there should be a trust and a respect that this relationship is ending, not because they no longer care for one another, but because they are making the choice to not be together any longer for one reason or another. Unfortunately, most relationships do not end because of a decision the couple made together, but because one person made the decision to leave the other. Perhaps these situations arise because the one who left never loved the one he was with in the first place. Though it is painful to be dumped, the one who was left should respect her partner’s decision to move on, and not hold anger toward him for realizing she was not right for him.

Often, a relationship ends because two people claim to have stopped being “in love” with one another. One could argue that two people who claim they fell out of love with one another were never really in love in the first place, if the love they thought they had so easily went away over time. So many people say they love one another, but then when their life together is challenged by tough situations, they just walk away because they can’t handle it. A sign of true love would be two people actually wanting to stay together to work out even the hardest of situations, because persevering through a hard situation and coming out the other side often brings two people closer together.

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Whether that going gets tough between family, friends, or lovers, when the going gets tough, the parties involved should get going…together…if there truly exists real, pure, sincere love between those two people.

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