In ancient times parents arranged marriages for their children, and the feelings of the bride and groom usually had little or nothing to do with the match. Abraham, for instance, sent his most trusted servant to Haran to find a wife for Isaac. The servant returned from the long journey and presented Rebekah, a young woman Isaac had never met (Gen. 24:1-67).
Now, though, feelings seem to mean everything. As someone comically put it: “Love is a feeling you feel when you’re feeling a feelling you’ve never felt before.” The average American would think it inconceivable to marry without feeling this feeling. (For the record, spilling a gallon of ice water in your lap may also produce a feeling that you have never felt before.)
Interestingly, the unromantic arranged marriages of ancient times were far more likely to endure than modern love matches. Perhaps our ancestors had a better understanding of the true meaning of love. The apostle Paul urged husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). Jesus modeled real love for the Christian husband. He sacrificed himself to bless and protect his bride, the church. But how did Jesus feel when he offered himself on the cross? Honestly, he did not feel like following through. In the garden of Gethsemane, he even begged the Father three times that the bitter cup might pass (Matt. 26:39-44). Jesus did not feel like keeping his commitment to his bride, but he kept it anyway. He drank that terrible cup to its dregs.
Being “in love” is fun. And doing romantic things sweetens a marriage relationship. Remember, though, that true love is stronger than feelings. A husband like Jesus makes a commitment and follows through—whether he feels like it or not.