Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

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Love is a many-splendored thing,
It’s the April rose that only grows, In the early Spring.
Love is nature’s way of giving,
A reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.
Once on a high and windy hill,
In the morning mist two lovers kissed and the world stood still.
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing,
Yes, true love’s a many-splendored thing.

Love is a many-splendored thing,
It’s the April rose that only grows, In the early Spring.
Love is nature’s way of giving,
A reason to be living,
The golden crown that makes a man a king.
Once on a high and windy hill,
In the morning mist two lovers kissed and the world stood still.
Then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing,
Yes, true love’s a many-splendored thing.

True love… Is it just a fleeting fantasy, a mirage that evaporates in the harsh realities of life? Is it only a Hollywood hoax to fool us into hoping it could happen to us? If it were real, what would be its substance? How could it endure?

I happened upon a happy woman the other day. She had a certain glory upon her as she brooded over her lively and pleasant children. The deep contentment of a happy marriage and a purposeful life radiated from her. It was not that her life had been easy. By western standards she would be considered poor. Raised in an orphanage after a family tragedy, she had a lot to overcome. And it was not that her husband was particularly handsome or faultless. He also was from a broken family and had his own ingrained iniquities. But twelve years and five children into their marriage they are still deeply in love. There is no denying the fact that they have found something precious that has eluded most of humanity.

Their marriage is a duet1 rather than a duel.2 It isn’t merely the result of an idyllic romance or adherence to a set of biblical principles, although they were very much in love with one another when they were married, and they did indeed respect the authority and divine inspiration of the Bible. Countless are the failed marriages that have begun with those two valuable but insufficient ingredients. But the marriage of Jennifer and Daniel is the fruit of a restoration in their own lives to the very purpose for which they were created.

God created man in His own image and likeness, as male and female, in order to fill the earth and ultimately the universe with His highest creation, to rule over it in love. For this purpose He gave them eros — sexual desire for one another — and the exquisite pleasure of its fulfillment. Both are from His hand, and both are intended not only for the propagation of human life, but also for the bonding of husband and wife into a lifelong covenant relationship to create stable, secure families.

God established the role of desire, and the suffering that attends it because of the Fall, for the stability of marriage and the family:

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:16-19)

A woman’s desire for her husband kindles the fire of his eros for her. It is her response to his attention that gives him the confidence to take her under his protective rule and love her with his whole heart. This womanly desire stimulates his love for her and directs his sexual energies toward her. It protects both her and him from all other evil desires, even from Satan himself. It was their Creator’s intention that a man and his wife would know only each other sexually, and that their coming together would bond them heart and soul into one God-like social unit3 a building block of human civilization. They would be co-workers in creation with Him, procreating desired children and pouring their lives into those children to make them secure and productive.

After the Fall, God multiplied the pain that both the woman and the man would have to bear in their respective roles in the marriage. This was not so much a punishment as a provision to increase their dependence upon their Creator and to strengthen their character and their relationships with one another and with their children. The pain of childbirth bonds a woman to her children, and to her husband whose heart wells up with love and respect for his wife as he sees her suffer to give birth to his children. The woman’s respect for her husband increases as she sees him labor to provide for her from the reluctant earth, and risk his life to protect her. Their children grow up to labor alongside their parents, essential to the running of the household, fields, and herds, which gives them dignity and keeps them out of trouble.

This is the order that God intended, which He has inscribed into the conscience of every human being. It is the foundational knowledge of good and evil that fallen man is accountable to live by,4 but it is abundantly clear that he has drifted a long ways from it. Most men and women today are out of this order and the resulting dysfunction is bringing humanity to the brink of destruction. The natural desire God put in woman for man she has subverted to usurp his rule, while the man has either abdicated his rulership or used his strength to dominate and oppress the woman. Marriage has become a duel rather than a duet, and countless men and women have abandoned it altogether, gratifying their sexual impulses in increasingly perverse and destructive ways. “Love” has become a “many-splintered” thing rather than a many-splendored thing, and the devastating consequences for untold generations of children are mounting into a global nightmare of unimaginable proportions.

By far the most shameful fact of this landslide of degradation is the utter impotence of Christianity to restrain it. Far from being the salt of the earth or the light to the nations, she has been sliding down the slippery slope of compromise herself, winking at immorality in the clergy, ordaining homosexuals, and catering to the worldly appetites of her youth. According to The Barna Group,5

  • The divorce rate among Christians in America is the same as that among non-Christians;
  • At least 30% of “born-again” adults support the legalization of same-gender sexual relations;
  • There is no difference between “born-again” and unchurched adults in the likelihood of viewing adult-only content on the Internet, or reading magazines, or watching videos with explicit sexual content.

And things are getting worse rather than better within Christianity as the years go by.

Restoration

Where, then, is the restoration of humanity going to come from? Where can true love be found? It can only be found where true forgiveness is found. In fact, it can only be found where the truth is found. The truth sets people free from their sin. The problem with the world is that people are not set free from their sin. They are not forgiven and they cannot forgive, therefore they cannot live in peace with one another. And no amount of legislation can restore the order and harmony God intended for humanity.

That is not to say the world should revert to anarchy, but that those who profess faith in the Son of God should look to Him for the solution, not to this world, which is passing away, along with its desires.6Yahshua, the Son of God, is the very Word of God in human flesh, the living embodiment of the truth. He came to undo the works of the evil one, who is the father of lies.7 Yahshua came to restore true love on the earth. But He did not even try to reform the existing political or religious establishment. He called His disciples out of the existing order and taught them the way of love.

They had to forsake everything to follow Him8 — jobs, possessions, family, friends, even concepts and prejudices — anything and anyone that held them back from being fully surrendered and available to Him. He put them on the foundation of absolute obedience to His words,9 just as He was absolutely obedient to His Father’s words.10 On that foundation He could teach them how to love one another, in the only context in which love can be learned — living together. They were always together. Love cannot be learned in the abstract, but only in the daily realities of submitting to one another and bearing with each other’s faults and failures.11

The night before His death, having taught them the way of love day and night for over three years, He left His disciples with the clearest expression of His will for them:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

And the disciple who had stayed the closest to Yahshua’s side gave the authoritative commentary on His most important commandment, so that there would be no confusion about what He meant:

14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:14-18)

They were to lay down their lives for one another daily,12 just as their Master had laid down His life for them, both practically for all their years together, and ultimately by dying in their place. Love provides for another’s needs; hatred holds back.

Everything Yahshua taught His disciples, by word and deed, from the day He called them until the moment He ascended into heaven after His resurrection, was the “Gospel of the Kingdom” which He entrusted to them.13 They were His apprentices, so that when fully trained they would be just like their Teacher.14 So there is no confusing His last solemn command to them. They were to spend the rest of their lives doing exactly what He had done for them — make disciples, teaching them, by word and example, to obey everything He had commanded them.15 But this was no burden for them, for they had been deeply loved, so they also would love deeply, from the heart.

So when Peter first preached the gospel ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost, telling the people how to “be saved from this perverse generation,” the effect was consistent with his training:

Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

The True One16 who is Love had planted true love in a handful of willing and grateful hearts, and that seed had begun to bear the first fruits of love — a people with one heart and one way, just as the prophet Jeremiah had foretold.17 They loved one another in the same way their Savior had loved them — by laying down their lives for one another — and there was no mistaking the fact that they were His disciples.18 They had learned the way of love.

That is the way the church was in the first century, and there is no other way the church can be than the way it was when it was “the Way.”19 That is where true love is found, and that is where true love finds a way to set people free from their sin, so that restoration can happen. It is where two lost and damaged souls like Daniel, a wandering Jew, and Jennifer, a confused Christian, could each face the truth about their own condition and receive forgiveness as they forsook everything in the waters of baptism.

And it is where the wise and loving hands of their brothers and sisters could put their lives on a good foundation and teach them the way of love. And having learned that way, two lives rescued from the collapsing world could be bonded together in a covenant of marriage that would express the true love between Messiah and His bride.

Multiplied thousands of redeemed lives such as theirs, knit together by the bonds of marriage and brotherhood, will be a great light of brilliance, a witness to the power of love that will someday fill the universe. Yes, true love is a many-splendored thing!

  • 1.
    A duet is a musical composition of two complimentary and equally important parts.
  • 2.
    A duel is a contest with deadly weapons between two parties to settle an irreconcilable difference.
  • 3.
    Genesis 2:24
  • 4.
    Genesis 3:22
  • 5.
    http://www.barna.org — a conservative Christian research agency,
  • 6.
    1 John 2:17
  • 7.
    1 John 3:8; John 8:44
  • 8.
    Mark 10:28-30; Matthew 4:17-22; 9:9
  • 9.
    Matthew 7:24-27; John 14:15,21,24
  • 10.
    John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10
  • 11.
    Matthew 18:21-22; Mark 9:33-35
  • 12.
    Luke 9:23
  • 13.
    The gospel is primarily found in the Gospels. The letters of Paul and the other apostles consist of instruction and correction for those who are already in salvation. It is ironic that most of the popular “plans of salvation” make little use of the Gospels and much improper use of Paul’s letters. As a result, very few people have actually heard and obeyed the gospel.
  • 14.
    Luke 6:40
  • 15.
    Matthew 28:19-20
  • 16.
    1 John 5:20
  • 17.
    Jeremiah 32:38-41
  • 18.
    John 13:34-35
  • 19.
    Acts 22:4; 24:14,22