Bob Lepine wants to address the cultural confusion about marital love today. We use the word “love” but don’t really know what it means. Couples will pledge their love at the wedding ceremony, but they are really saying “I like being around you and I like how I feel when I’m with you, and I hope I can keep this feeling until I get tired of you.” Bob admits this is what he thought love was about when he married his wife Mary Ann. Bob then differentiated between AGAPE love and EROS (erotic) love, and why self-sacrifice is the only kind of love that is lasting. He points to the dangers of selfish ambition described in Philippians 2, and describes in humorous terms the “humblebrag” where we mask our desire for recognition in a false veil of modesty. Bob concludes with a comparison of marital love with the tenacity of a bull dog, and explains why we need God’s love supply to help us move toward unconditional love with your spouse.
fill yourself up with God’s love for you. Get God’s perspective of his love for your spouse and then let God’s love for you pour it into you, spill out onto your spouse and now you’ve got a whole different love source for your marriage. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive. Well on this valentine’s day edition of Focus on the family, we’re gonna be exploring the topic of love in marriage and what that love should and could look like in the day to day relationship you have with your spouse. Your host is focused president and author jim daly and I’m john fuller and jim, we’re gonna start by reviewing some rather goofy ways that couples have expressed their love for each other. These are like bad valentine’s day cards. You’re putting one of these in your card. I know you’re going to, you’re the macaroni to my cheese, will you be my valentine please. This one they say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Obviously, they’ve never been in your arms. Oh, that would be heartbeat. Yeah, words cannot espresso how much you mean to me, that’s for the coffee lovers. Obviously love is sharing your popcorn. You can have my popcorn. I don’t care how about this darling? You’re like a sharpie, your super fine. I like that. And of course the last one, let’s commit the perfect crime. I’ll steal your heart and you steal mine. You can use in your valentine’s card today and then let us know just facebook us or send us an email or something. Let us know how that worked out. Maybe come up with your own, that would be an encouraging idea. Listen, it’s obvious some people do have strange ideas about love and we’ve mentioned a few of them, so we’re gonna get some help on this topic today by a well known radio personality bob Lappin who is also a pastor or speaker and author and does so much to communicate the importance of love within the kingdom bob! Welcome back to focus on the family. Great to be here. Jim john, great to be with you guys. Everybody just recognized your voice. How many years did you work with Dennis Raney at Family Life? So, I started in 1992 How We put Family life today on the air in 92. And then Dennis stepped away back in 2000 and 18 and continue to work with David and Wilson for a season. And now they have the Con and they are full speed ahead and family life today. And doing a great job bob also was a member of the national religious broadcasters board. He’s written a number of books, we’re gonna be talking about one book in particular that um I think really is solid. It’s a biblical perspective on marriage. It’s called Love. Like you mean it, The Heart of a Marriage that honors God, And we have copies of that here at focus on the family, click the link on your screen or call 800, the letter a and the word family bob. You know, going back to the sixties and you cover a bit of this in the book. I mean the whole free love kind of thing. The impact of that and the continued wave effect of that sixties seventies era. We’re certainly, I think still feeling the ramifications of that, but it feels like in the last 10, 20 years we’ve moved so quickly away from a definition of marriage. What’s happened? Well, I I think in the sixties we uncoupled Um marriage and sexuality and said these two don’t necessarily have to belong together. You can have one without the other. That uncoupling was dilatory. Ast two families, two kids to the culture. I mean it’s just had a tremendous impact on where we are today. And then in the last 10 to 15 years we’ve said in fact, what is marriage Anyway, let’s let’s stop and think and I’m old enough to remember the tv show Murphy brown where they said marriage is just any people who live together and love each other. Well, they were using a cheap view of love that won’t sustain a marriage. They were mischaracterizing. In fact, this is what’s at the heart of of what I wrote in love. Like you mean it is the idea that we have a a shallow and sandy view of what love is and you try to build a marriage on that kind of sand and it’s not gonna it’s not gonna stand, you need something tougher and deeper and the good news is the bible gives us that tougher, deeper definition. Now people listening are going to say, well that’s wonderful bob Lappin, knew that from the get go, but when you met, when you met Marianne, I think in a cafeteria line, which is great, I love this. Would you like an extra scoop of applesauce or I don’t know how that worked. But were you in college or how did you bump into Marianne? We were in college together. Both of us were working with young life as volunteer leaders with young life and we were on a retreat weekend and we were in line for dinner and I was a freshman. This was the beginning of my second semester of my freshman year, I’m standing in line and there’s a another coworker of a senior girl who was in line with me and she said you’re a freshman. And I said, yeah, she said, oh, I thought you were like a junior or a senior because my head is just what you want to hear is awesome. And and Marianne was a few people back, but she had overheard the conversation and so a few minutes later she said, you’re a freshman, huh? And I said, yeah, what did you think? What like? And she said maybe a software. And I went, okay, so here’s a woman who knows reality. So from that first little jab were the seeds of what became our relationship Now, the thing is we started dating and we’ve been dating for like three weeks when I was already saying, you know, I love you, I had no idea the power, the weight of that word. I meant, I like being around you, it’s better being around you than when I’m not around you, you make me feel good. So I was just saying I love you. Like I would say I love ice cream and I love little baby pigs, you know, whatever, and that’s what’s so good about it because you learn from your own experience, you those terms that are should be weighty and carry something. You were throwing them around. I was so careless with it and it through her off because she’s saying, what are you saying to me? I told my boys as I was raising them the first time you say, I love you to a young woman, the next thing you say is will you marry me? Okay, so that’s that’s how serious this is. When you say, I love, you don’t say it until you’re ready to say next, will you marry me? Let me ask you in that regard what was happening. I mean, you’re a believer, you’re working for young life. I mean you’re graduating college by this point, but when you married Marianne, but but what gave you that that premise? Why why did you feel so light handed with it? pop songs and rom coms? Honestly, you look at this and say, we have a romantic view of love that has been shaped by pop music and romantic comedies in the movies. So, you watch the Hallmark Channel, and that’s where we’re categorized on what it means for love and marriage. And that’s where we get that Sandy view of of what love looks like. And if that’s as deep as it goes, I mean, I had a highly romantic view. So if I’m having a certain feeling, I’d just say, you know, man, I I love you, I love this, I love the bible takes a completely different tact. In fact, paul, when he writes first Corinthians 13, which was the the kind of the core of this book, what is real love looks like He’s he’s scolding a church for a failure to love. We we read this passage at weddings and we say love is patient, love is kind. And we put it in romantic terms, paul wasn’t saying it that way. He’s saying, look, guys, love is patient, it’s kind it’s not self seeking, it doesn’t demand its own way, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. I mean, he’s scolding these people for their lack of love, love his work boots. You’ve got to put on if you’re gonna make a relationship be a truly loving relationship, and it’s so good, and we’re gonna get into that over the half hour together, that you know what love actually means. But in that regard, um when you uh think of engaged couples, you encourage them in the book to read the fine print, I kind of had two responses to that one. I get it secondly, there’s already a lot of fear and and hesitation In family formation with 2030, some things that are worried. So I was a little concerned about that, but it’s wise to read the fine print. What did you mean by that? Well, I I think there are two different um realities when it comes to thinking about marriage as engaged couples, you need to be aware that marriage is, in my view, a wonderful, glorious. It’s the most magnificent. It’s it’s the deepest kind of a relationship that we can have as human beings. It’s wonderful. And it’s the hardest relationship you will ever have. Those two truths are are simultaneously there. So if you go in with a Pollyanna, oh, this is just gonna be wonderful. You’re going with the what the beach boys taught me, it’s gonna make it that much better when we can say goodnight and stay together, wouldn’t it be nice? So that if you just think this is good, dating is good, marriage is going to be double good, right? That’s that’s the naive view. The other view is what what you’re talking about jim and I think a lot of young people today who watched their parents struggle or divorce or not make it work. They look around and go who can do this? Can anybody do this? My friends can’t. My parents couldn’t and they’re really afraid that this is an institution that is impossible to to to be good at. And so we have to say no you can thrive in a marriage relationship and it’s going to be hard and let’s embrace that. And you know, things that are hard are often the best things in life. Yeah. And you know bob you you mentioned this I I don’t think necessarily the science of it, but you know, neuroscientists have looked infatuation and love to the best of their ability M. R. I. Scans all that kind of thing that typically lasts a year and a half to two years and then that evaporates it’s just normal. You get into the routine of relationship in the book, you mentioned this difference where in english we have the one word love but in greek we have eros and agape love. And there’s a distinction there and you’re pointing to this drill into this, this is like christian boot camp here where we really have to understand this distinction that even scientists recognize in our brain science, right? Yeah. So so the Greeks had a variety of words, they had the word store gay that talks about family love and family bonding. They had the word Phylis which is a word for deep friendships. David and Jonathan were knit together as brothers. They had a Phylis philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. And then there’s the Aarhus which we get the word erotic. It’s for sexual love and sexual desire. And then there’s agape and the interesting thing and I didn’t know this until I was digging in and studying this and writing the book was essentially a christian invention as a word. J. I Packer said that this word was not prevalent in greek literature outside and before the bible came into being this idea of self sacrificing self denying love, the greater love that lays down its life for its friends. It didn’t exist in the culture that the Greeks and romans thought humility and laying down your life for somebody else was weakness, not strength. And christians come along and say this is the kind of love God has for us. He sends his son who dies for us. We should have the same kind of self emptying self sacrificing love this agape love. It’s a completely different kind of love. There’s a verse I love in, in first, john three verse one where john says, behold what manner of love the father has given to us. And the word behold means take a good hard look. You’ve never seen anything like this before. This is a foreign kind of love. And he says, this is what God has lavished on us, that we should be called Sons of God and then he goes on to say. And this is how we love one another. This is what christians do. We look at God’s love for us. It pours into us. We spill it out into the lives of others and that is so good bob. I mean this is Christianity one oh one right here. The fact that um you know that the Lord brought this word into existence around the christian faith that right there is exciting and very intriguing and very like God to say, I have a different idea of what love means. Exactly. The difficulty bob, there’s so much of our flesh in us. And I mean the whole thing seems to be how God can empty us as we become more like him. We become less selfish right down the line. So this agape love that you’re describing. It might be even easy to show it to others out there. You know, you could take care of somebody who has a need, a neighbor, who has a need. It sometimes becomes really difficult to show it to your spouse. I don’t know how many button pushing all of it. I mean, so why the most important person in our life do we struggle sometimes showing the greatest love that we should show? I’ve talked to couples who say will be in the middle of some intense fellowship. So there’s a, there’s a fight going on between the husband and wife and they’re they’re loud and they’re they’re angry. And then the phone rings and all of a sudden they go, hello, They just switch it off so we can be nice to the person on the phone or the person at the door. We can shut it all down. But I think this goes to the fact that the people who are close to us are the ones who can can wound us most deeply. And and so we often have this kind of a a reaction to the wounding. But but it also goes into what you’re saying, the flesh wars against the spirit. So Paul in Romans seven said there are things I want to do that. I don’t do the things I do. I hate wretched man that I am. This is our battle. And so to say we want to have a love. You don’t just say well that’s a nice thought. I think I’ll do that tomorrow. No, you have to strap this on every day. You’ve got to get up every day and say I need a self emptying. I need to have this mind in me that was in christ jesus who emptied himself for us. And if you don’t have that mindset when you wake up, the Lord will bring opportunities. We’re privileged to talk with bob Lappin today love. Like you mean it. The heart of a marriage that honors God is his book and we have copies of that here at focus on the family. Just click the link on your screen or call 800 the letter A and the word Family Philippians two is also an area of scripture. I think we’ve got first Corinthians covered. But Philippians two, what is that verse? And why is it significant when it comes to marriage? But this this is a lesson I learned early on when Marianne and I were dating, she came to me at some point. We’ve been dating for a couple of years. She said, what do you think about us memorizing some some bible verses together And here’s what I thought. I thought, well, why would you memorize them? I mean if you need them there in the book, did you say that? I didn’t know because we’re dating we were dating. So I said, oh, that’s a great idea. Yeah, that’s that’s wonderful. I’m thinking crazy. But okay, I’ll go on with then. I said, did you have any verses in mind? And she said, well, I was actually thinking about a whole chapter. Well I did this bug eyed look like a chapter Are you out of who memorizes a chapter in the bible? But I said to her, wow, you know, I didn’t say much more than that. I mean, wow, I said, did you have a chapter in mind? She said I was thinking Philippians chapter two and I went, oh, like I knew what that was. I didn’t know. I didn’t know if it was the old testament. New testament. I was still doing. Oh, okay. Well I think she picked it out because of the boy she was dating. Because it’s all about humility. That’s what Philippians two is all about. So we started memorizing this together and I don’t know that we got all the way through. But when we got divers three, it kind of lockdown. I memorized it quickly. I I didn’t have to work at it. I think it was just God saying you’re gonna need this for the rest of your life. Do nothing from selfishness. And I’ve done the work Now. The greek word for nothing means nothing. Okay, do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. But with humility, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. And it goes on to say have this Minding your do not merely look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others. I’m convinced 90% of the marriage problems I’ve seen in my life. You apply that verse. You say have this mind in you look out for the other. The interests of the others make it your goal to please someone else. You’d you’d fix most of the problems. Now there are there’s a 10% factor out there, right? But most of the problems we have in marriage or because of pride and selfishness. And we’ve got to attend to that and we’ve got to be cultivating humility. It’s really foundational to what healthy love looks like in America. So true bob. I mean you’re hitting it and I think that’s exactly why the, you know, we do a four day intensive hope restored and they have an 80% success rate and these are, a lot of them have signed divorce papers, so they’re done. But the reason it’s successful is it gets to these basic principles and that’s what you’re going to learn their uh you know, and rather than go and spend that time start applying what bob’s talking about, it would be my recommendation. And I love the way that those intensive have helped so many couples over the years and the testimonies I’ve heard from people who have been through them and we’ve sent people, I mean, I I have friends who have have said, we don’t know how we’re stuck and I say, go do the hard work. You’ve you’ve got such a history of accumulated pain and bad habits and patterns, let some people help identify those and then help replace bad habits with good habits. Of course, it’s all going to come back to an understanding of the Gospel As the foundation. But that’s that’s really and that’s what they apply and that’s what’s so exciting is that and this is roughly 40 hours, so you can do in 40 hours, what will change your life and keep your commitment to Christ, intact right with that love for better or for worse versus you talked about our commitment to each other. Let me ask you about another concept that you mentioned in the book is the fact that marital love needs to be tenacious. I love that. You compare that to the bulldog. I think I get that, but described what you’re going after that. It was a Winston Churchill quote Churchill was the one who said a bulldog’s nose is slanted backwards So that he can hold on or you can keep breathing without letting go. And and that’s a great you latch on and you keep breathing without letting go. It’s it’s that kind of tenacious bulldog love. That says, I’m in this the end of the passage in first Corinthians 13 says love never fails, never quits, never gives up it. It believes all things bears all things hopes all things endures all things. There is this tenacity with love that says, I’m not going anywhere. I’ve said two couples for so many years, I’ve said, if I told you today, the car, you get when you get married, this is the only car you’ll ever have for the rest of your problem. Well, two things would happen. First of all, you would take better care of that car, then you take care of your car. Now, because you go, I got to take care of this is the only one I’ll ever have and you would have chosen more wisely. The But the second thing is when it breaks, you’ll take it in and get it fixed because you need the car. Well, if we would start off by saying this marriage is the only marriage I’m ever gonna have, and so I’m gonna take better care of it. And when it breaks, because you go see a counselor, go see your pastor, get some help, get some, you can fix it. Don’t just most couples wait until they’ve lost hope and they don’t know where to turn now when things get bad, go and say, look, we need a tune up an alignment, we’re in the ditch and we need a tow truck to tow us out. That is so good. And I don’t know what keeps people from going, I mean, it makes total sense. You know, it’s a pride thing bob. I was gonna jump on that bulldog analogy because in so many ways the older I get, the more I realized the Lord’s simplicity with life, he shows us his love through marriage, through and what he wants to do with us, he shows us humility through child rearing, right? You think you’re so good, we’ll have a couple of kids and we’ll see how that goes. And the point of that is the Lord’s love is like that bulldog, he’s never gonna let go. In fact, paul says that he will never let you go, he’s got you and what a great confidence we have knowing that we are safe and secure when, when a couple knows, look, I’m not going anywhere, You’re not going anywhere. There’s a security here. Now, we’ve got issues and we can fix them. But I’ve said to couples over the years, when you pull out the D word and you say maybe it’d be better if we’d never gotten married, maybe we ought to get a divorce. What you’ve done is you’ve threatened the entire foundation. Now, nobody feels safe in that marriage anymore. Because if I do something, you may be out of here. But when Marianne knows I’m not going anywhere, we’re stuck, I’m not sure how we get out of this, We’re gonna get some help. But I’m not going anywhere. You can’t get rid of me. And I’m here for you. There’s a safety and a security there that says, okay, we can get through this bottom line. It’s impossible to love our spouse unconditionally. I mean, maybe in heaven, you know, we’re gonna have that ability to express unconditional love because we’ll get it from the Lord in that perfect environment. But in this life and the way we work and the way we operate with the sin nature still at war with our spirit. It’s hard to be unconditionally loving toward everybody unless we have that regular supply from God. And it’s still gonna be imperfect even in that environment. Well, perhaps we’ll get to 98% octane. Describe what you were telling us there in the book. Yeah. There there there is this ongoing war that will be present. Our motives will always be mixed motives. We can say I’m doing this sacrificial. E but there’s always this little hidden what’s in it. For me, that’s just a part of its endemic to the human condition. But but couples need to understand that our love for one another, it needs to flow out of the supply of love that we receive from God. I think a lot of times couples think, okay, I can love you as long as you feel my love tank, then I’ve got love to pour back to you and we just kind of slosh our love tank love supply back. Well, the problem is some spills out over time and we’ve got less and less to give to one another. We can’t depend on each other as the source for the love we give to one another. We have to depend on an outside source. The good thing about God’s love is he reigns that he pours it lavishly on us so that we always have access to an endless supply of God’s love for us and it’s out of the overflow of God’s love for us that we spill it out onto one another. So, if you’re saying, I just don’t feel love for my spouse. I would say, go fill yourself up on God’s love, get God’s perspective on your spouse because God loves your spouse, fill yourself up with God’s love for you get God’s perspective of his love for your spouse. And then let God’s love for you, pour it into you, spill out onto your spouse. And now you’ve got a whole different love source for your marriage, man bob. This has been so full of wisdom. I’ve really enjoyed this and it’s been great. I hope people have caught it. Um it’s not complicated, be humble think of others think of your spouse more highly than yourself and things are going to go well. And that’s what your book love. Like you mean, it really addresses thanks for being with us and let us encourage you to get a copy of the book. If you can make a gift of any amount, will send it to you as our way of saying, thank you for being part of the ministry. If you can’t afford it and we’re into getting this information into your hands. Just let us know that you need it and you can’t afford to help us, but we want to help you and we’re going to trust others will help us. So do that. We’ll get the book into your hands as our way of saying thank you. Yeah, donate as you can monthly pledge is great be a sustaining member of this ministry by making a monthly donation or a one time pledge. Either way, we’ll send bob’s great book love. Like you mean it. And our number is 800 the letter A and the word family or you can click the link on the screen. And while you’re at the website, we have a free marriage assessment and we also have information about hope restored the marriage intensive that we’ve been so privileged to offer to people on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for focus on the family. I’m john fuller, inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ.