C.S. Lewis once said that “love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” Love is not merely the absence of negativity towards someone. It is the presence of deep, meaningful benevolence. It can never be neutral. It must take a stand in regards to someone’s daily joy or it is not fit to be run through the wash with a pair of dirty sneakers. It is always on guard against the poisons of individualism, autonomy, privatization, and isolation.
Love is also kenotic. It empties itself and removes the fetters of a wild and selfish freedom. A freedom that you once enjoyed quite giddily. When you love, you lay aside your heaven-given right to do the things you desire to do when you desire to do them. You may deserve them and even enjoy them with a thankful heart but love requires you limit their existence for the sake of another’s pursuits. The freedom does not cease to exist anymore than Christ’s omnipotence ceased to exist in the incarnation. It is merely laid aside so that another might be the benefactor of one who seeks to wash the dirt off their grimy face. You partially put away your independence so the beloved can experience new heights and depths of fulfillment.
We must bend our wills lest our felicity shrivels up and atrophies into nothingness. Yet, the bending of our wills for another is the place where the rivers of satisfaction flow into the ocean of God’s grace and mercy. In loving others in humble service, we end up finding our true selves in all our Edenic glory. No shame. No arrogant ambition. We are unclothed and seeing ourselves aright. The love that a husband is called to is the love that led God to put on an apron to rinse the feet of the disciples (John 13:1-20). It is a humbling service of one with the goal of the cleansing of the object of their affection.
A bridegroom’s love for his beloved is a work of art that displays and praises the love of the Divine for his beloved (Eph. 5:25, 32). Because of that, N.T. Wright is correct when he says “Love is not our duty. It is our destiny.”