Like the 80s rock band Foreigner, I want to know what love is. And I am not alone in my inquiry. Legendary singer Tina Turner asks, "what's love got to do with it?" John Legend speaks of its all encompassing nature, singing it has affected "all of me." So what is it?
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie found that love is "endless." Beyoncé, Queen Bey, opines love is "crazy." Huey Lewis says there is a "power of love." How much power? Well, it made Stevie Wonder call just to say "I love you." Leona Lewis is quite figuratively "bleeding love." And Taylor Swift owes her entire career to love, or the lack thereof.
Determining whether they are right or wrong concerning their perception of love is not my objective. However, I do find it quite revealing.
Music is a window into the heartbeat of our culture. Our culture's infatuation with love is only exceeded by our curiosity for the color of a particular dress (it was blue). So when it comes to love, what does our culture sound like?
Peering through the window of music, it appears as though love is talked about often, but is desired more. Its presence is comforting, but its absence is felt. Could the desire for love, the talk about love, be an indictment on a deficiency of love in our world? We love the idea of love, but could the outworking today tend to resemble lust more than love?
Whereas love postures itself to give, lust takes. Love seeks to give until it hurts, but lust desires to receive until it is satisfied. We are told we live in a dog eat dog world, where you have to look after yourself. Does this type of world not foster an atmosphere of lust, taking more than giving?
But what do we know about love? We being those who have been loved lavishly and graced generously (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Love is ferociously defended and openly welcomed (Song of Solomon 6). With open hands we receive it, with clenched fists we fight to let go of it (Zephaniah 3:14-17). We do so because love is almost unexplainable (Ephesians 3:15-17). It blindsides us (Acts 9). We fall into it and, if necessary, painfully walk away from it (Genesis 29:20). Love leaves us at a loss for words (Psalm 143:12). The human experience yearns for this type of love: to be missed when you are gone and pursued when you are away are hallmarks (Song of Solomon 5).
Love leaves us vulnerably exposed, but I'm OK with this predicament because it allows for a deeper commitment. Italian writer Cesare Pavese wrote, "You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength."
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly."
Could it be that today, we live and move in a world falling apart and in desperate need of love? Not a Beyonce love that is crazy or Huey Lewis power love, but a sacrificial love like that of Christ. A love that hopes for the best, endures through the worst and never fails through it all. Appearances can be deceiving, but this type of love has a resurrection like resolve. This is a type of love that inspires poets, emboldens warriors and can cause bands like Foreigner to want to know more.
Nick Pitts serves as Special Assistant to the President at the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture.
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