As a wedding photographer and a romantic at heart, you may be surprised at this statement: that I don’t believe in love at first sight. “WHAT?” you’re probably wondering. “What about all those stories of people madly falling in love at first glance?” Well, my friends, today we’re going to look at why I made such a shocking statement, and if there really is such a thing as “love at first sight”.
A Biblical Definition of Love
First, let’s look at what love is. Let’s answer the question, “What is love?” For some, this may be a very hard question to answer. I know it certainly is for the world! But, my friends, we have the answer written down and given to us by the Creator of the Universe.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Jeremiah 31:3 – the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Exodus 34:6 – The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
Luke 6:35 – But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.*
So What Is True Love?
Love is everlasting and steadfast. Love is humble. Love means when someone offends you, you forgive them and you never bring that up again. Love means being kind to people who aren’t kind to you. Love means doing good when you don’t feel like it.
Love is not merely a feeling. Love is an action.
In fact, in Nouthetic counseling, couples who have “fallen out of love” rebuild their marriages with the actions. And the actions grow the love.
If someone says “I love you” without actions to back it up, that’s not true love.
Unless someone tells us that they feel love for us, we will only be able to know if they love us by their actions. When someone is putting you first, giving you the better option, and being kind to you, you can then assume that they love you. Not a romantic love, as these actions can be done by anyone, in any type of relationship. But this kind of love, at least, is the kind of love we are to share between brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, your assumptions will be validated when this person actually says “I love you”. But if they say “I love you” without any actions to back it up, that’s not true love.
Are We Capable of True Love?
“Wow,” you’re probably thinking. “True love sounds really hard.” And indeed, my friends, it is. Are we even capable of true love? Can we give up for others? Can we lend and not expect anything in return? Can we be kind to the ungrateful? Can we love, Biblically, expecting and receiving nothing in return? Receiving, instead, slander and gossip? Are we capable of not being jealous? Persevering in showing this kind of love when everything is against that person?
The long and short of it is no. We’re not capable of loving as Christ did because we are fallen. We are not perfect. Christ was. He alone was the only Person on earth who could love like this.
But we are not without hope. Because God has called us to a Christlike love. Christ is our example. We are to mirror Him, and strive to follow His example of true love. And we know that while, with man, this is impossible – with God, it is possible. No, it won’t be perfect – but it’s possible. (Matthew 19:26)
So, my friends, I don’t believe in love at first sight. Because when you understand the true definition of love, there is no way we could ever love someone like that at the very first. The only Person who is capable of that is God, and we know that before He even formed us, He knew us. (Jeremiah 1:5) He chose us, in love, before He even made this world. (Ephesians 1:3-5) That’s not first sight. That’s more like before first sight.
Now, those butterfly feelings when you meet someone? Any feelings of “love at first sight”? Don’t worry – I’m not discounting them.
It’s just that it’s completely different from true love – what people mean by “love at first sight” should be phrased as “attraction at first sight”. I completely and wholly believe you can be infatuated and even deeply attracted to someone when you meet them or glance at them. And I believe that can grow and bloom into true love, absolutely.
But true love doesn’t happen in a moment, my friends. True love takes actions, knowledge, sacrifice. It is a weighty thing.
However, when it really is true love? It’s more beautiful than anything else on this earth.
And may we always strive towards that.
*Bible translation ESV, emphasis added