A Sensitive Subject–Is “Love” and Reciprocation the Basis for a Healthy Relationship?

A Bucknell University survey of individuals mostly in their early twenties focused “on how men and women react to relationship situations,…both [men and women] felt that a partner whose love wasn’t equal to their own was worse than unequal sexual attraction…Emotional commitment and sex both play a role in a relationship’s success—but Dr. Wade,” a researcher who led the study, “didn’t expect commitment to trump sex for both genders.”1

We all want to be loved…truly loved…but Satan takes advantage of this natural longing to tempt people to look outside of God’s design, while making the case for it in the name of “love.”

I’ve been looking at different Biblical interpretations related to love the last couple posts, as I want to Biblically know how to respond. Here’s another one:

Interpretation: Various Biblical passages show homosexuality as negative for reasons such as sexual violence, violations of humans’ honor, health and lineage concerns, making the nation of Israel appear just like other nations, older men taking advantage of younger men, idolatry, and lust, but there isn’t any evidence that the Bible addresses homosexual relationships that are based on “love” and reciprocation.

This goes back to what love is, according to Scripture. First John 4:8 says that “…GOD is love.” “Love,” here, is the exact same Greek word used for “love” throughout 1 Corinthians 13: “agapé” (see the “What’s Love Got to Do with Me” post link below for more on this). When we read about love in these verses, we’re really reading about God–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. Too often, we focus on what WE want, what WE think we deserve, why WE’RE right…When we focus on WE or ME, we lose the point of love…to focus on GOD and what HE chooses.

The second basis for this interpretation, reciprocation, can be a dangerous pillar to stand on. Just because something’s reciprocated doesn’t mean it’s love (what God prefers), which is why we have to look at Scripture deeper.

  • In Genesis 1:27-28, God created a man and a woman. He blessed the two, giving them unique abilities and qualities to, through their union together, increase the number of humankind on the earth, which was one of their roles/responsibilities (in Verse 28) given to them by God. We see this, again, in the instructions God gave Noah to take “a male and his female” of each animal into the ark in order to “keep the seed (species) alive on…the earth” after the flood (Genesis 7:2-3).
  • God commands, in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, that a man is not to have sexual intercourse (including oral or anal sex) with another man. The Hebrew word for what God thinks about this, in these verses, is “toebah;” it means that it’s morally disgusting to God, hated, and, therefore, not desired for His people. This command is less about Israel and more about the LORD, their God. Over and over, throughout the Old Testament, He tells them not to live by other people’s laws, but by what He judges as right and wrong…what He prescribed/is owed (statutes). It’s not just commanded for Israel, either, since we see the same directions several times in the New Testament (Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1), addressed to Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. This command further emphasizes God’s design for sexual relations within marriage (one man and one woman–Matthew 19:4-9) and His disapproval of the kind of behavior listed, as He’s holy. Believers in Christ are to be the LORD’s “obedient children, not conforming ourselves to the former lusts,” before we knew, but “as He Who called [us] is holy, [we] also be holy in all our conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15 NKJV). God desires that we, His kids, live committed to Him, honoring Him and His standards, since they reflect Who He is.
  • Reciprocation is a pillar that crumbles. It’s apparent throughout Scripture that if someone joins me in something God disapproves of, He still disapproves of it; there are just two people committing the sin, not one.

If certain thoughts, desires, or behaviors violate God’s relationship standards (see the 1 Corinthians 6:9 post link below for more on this), and we choose to not abide by them, we aren’t abiding in Him (1 John 3:24). We’re, basically, developing our own design; viewing our creation/standards as better than God’s; and serving ourselves over God. This is idolatry, which is referenced often throughout Scripture as something prohibited.

“…Your people, again, committed evil in Your sight, and once more, You let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever Your people turned and cried to You, again, for help, You listened once more from heaven. In Your wonderful mercy, You rescued them many times! You warned them to return to Your Law, but they became proud and obstinate and disobeyed Your commands. They did not follow Your regulations, by which people will find life, if only they obey. They stubbornly turned their backs on You and refused to listen.”

Nehemiah 9:28-29 NLT

“For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.”

Romans 11:36, 12:1 AB

1 Sinrich, Jenn. “This is What Men Care about Most in Relationships—and It’s Not Sexual Attraction.” THE Healthy, 8 September 2017, https://www.thehealthy.com/family/relationships/reciprocated-love-over-sexual-attraction/

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