Webster and all the other dictionaries have it wrong. Furthermore, the word is incorrectly used far too often. You may think you know what love is, but I hope to change your definition with this article.
I consider myself a word nerd. I believe words having meanings and we should use our words according to their meaning. At times, my southern accent doesn’t allow me to pronounce words correctly, but I can at least use them according to their definition. That is with the exception of the word love.
I completely disagree with the dictionary definition. I’m so passionate about my disagreement with the dictionary that I’ve developed a full speech explaining the real definition that I give at marriage conferences. The dictionary definition and my definition are such polar opposites that I have to ask questions like; “could this misunderstanding of love be damaging marriages and families?”
Let me first start with the various definitions and forms according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. In each definition variant, I’ll make the case for why it’s wrong. Finally, I’ll give you my concise and accurate definition and, trust me, love in your marriage and family will all make sense when you read it.
First, let’s examine the noun form of the word…
Wrong! That’s the definition of friendship
Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (noun) Strong affections that arise can also falter. We should not hold such a low standard of love to think it can falter. Friendships may come and go, but love must be consistent, unwavering, and never-ending.
Wrong! That’s the definition of like
warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion (noun) A warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion suggests these feelings can grow cold. Again, we must expect more from love than the notion it can grow cold.
Wrong! That’s the definition of infatuation
the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration (noun) The feelings of attachment, devotion, and admiration can be short-lived even though they may be intense in the beginning. Love should never be considered short-lived.
Wrong! That’s the definition of care
unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another (noun) This one I can almost agree with. Love is certainly loyal and always wanting the good of another. However, love must be much deeper than a simple concern.
Let’s move on to the verb form of the word…
Wrong! That’s the definition of cherish
to hold dear (verb) Holding someone dear or cherishing them invokes feelings and emotions of affection. Love should not be subject to feelings or emotions.
Wrong! That’s the definition of sex
to feel a lover’s passion, devotion, or tenderness (verb) Maybe we use the word love in the place of sex because we are too embarrassed to talk about sex. It is true that love is expressed in the physical act of sex, but the physical act itself is not love.
Wrong! That’s the definition of enjoy
take pleasure in (verb) Taking pleasure in something assumes it is enjoyable. Relationships aren’t always enjoyable, yet love remains.
Enough with the dictionary, let’s examine the true definition of love.
Right! That’s the definition of love
to make an unwavering decision of commitment (verb) First, notice that love is a verb. Therefore, it requires action to prove the unwavering aspect of love. It is also a decision which means it requires no feelings or emotions. Love can be expressed to anyone by simply deciding to do so. Lastly, love is a commitment that speaks of its steadfastness, persistence, and perseverance.
I know this definition of love isn’t all sexy and romantic. However, consider what you’d rather hear from your spouse when they say “I love you.” Would you rather hear your spouse say “I take pleasure in you” or “I will never leave or forsake you?” Would you rather hear your spouse say “I feel a lover’s passion for you” or “I am committed to you even in sickness or poverty until death separates us?”
I’m convinced marriages would be much more settled and secure if we only changed our definition of love. Human feelings and emotions are a rollercoaster. Because our definitions of love are so connected to feelings and emotions, our marriages are equally a rollercoaster ride.
The Bible holds the best definition of love. Within the Bible, you won’t find the word used to describe feelings or emotions. Of the multitude of examples in the Bible, let me point out just one. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Notice the verb form in this verse – proves & died. Likewise, you see the unwavering decision of commitment. God certainly doesn’t feel the emotions to love us while we were sinners. God’s decision is to love us anyway and prove it with enough commitment that he sacrificed Christ.
Only with a biblical definition will others see the love of God in our marriages.
Date Night Ideas
Subscribe today and receive a copy of my date night ideas guide. This guide will jump start the date night commitment in your marriage relationship.
100 Date Night Ideas