Reading the “Love Chapter” in the Bible brought great confusion for me in my first marriage. I wondered why my husband kept hurting me even though I tried my best to follow God’s guidelines in 1 Corinthians 13. I didn’t realize that my unawareness of the context and true meaning of these verses in the Greek language skewed my understanding of God’s design of love and marriage.
How Did I Get Love Wrong?
Without knowing God’s true meaning, I interpreted this chapter through the imperfect lens of my broken love experiences. My misguided understanding of love twisted my mindset. I saw love as me giving my all, while my spouse enjoyed it. I didn’t have equal expectations for the way he treated me. In this mindset, I saw the success or failure of my marriage as my sole responsibility. My one-sided and love-starved mindset and misunderstanding of God’s design for love and marriage made me vulnerable to become a victim of domestic abuse.
The primary trap for me was the illusion that my husband loved me, especially since I felt love-starved. The reason I stayed and kept trying to make my marriage work was my commitment to God in my marriage vows. I knew I had to give God and my husband my all. With my twisted understanding of love, I continued to be abused for thirteen years.
My escape from abusive was delayed because the pastors preached at women to submit to their husband, no matter what he did, during the 1980’s. Their stand kept me believing the success of our marriage was up to me. Of course, this misrepresentation of scripture is the opposite of God’s love.
Because we all come with our individual definitions of love, it is important to see where others and possibly you can be deceived. To give you a picture of the deception that went on in my mind while I was being abused and unaware of God’s design of love, I have inserted my old misguided thoughts following the verses four through eight.
1 Corinthians 13 (Love Chapter)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
- I believed I must be patient with my husband and kind no matter what he said or did. I didn’t think I had anything to be envious, boastful, or proud about.
- In my victim mindset, I had to prove that I was worthy to be loved. I did all I could to earn my husband’s love while accepting his excuses and rationales that his mistakes were my fault. My ex-husband made sure I didn’t think or feel I was as valuable except to serve him.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
- I believed I couldn’t say anything about my husband hurting me because that would dishonor him. This deception played into my abuser’s tactics of threats, pain, and fear to keep me quiet.
- I told myself I couldn’t get angry or remember when he did anything wrong if I truly forgave him. I didn’t understand that forgiveness, trust, and boundaries are all separate and healthy aspects of God’s design of love and marriage.
- I was afraid of the price my children or I would pay if I broke the silence.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
- I saw my ex-husband as a hurting and tormented man. I didn’t understand why he hurt me because I was trying to help him. I didn’t see my ex-husband’s actions as evil at the time. However, it is true; domestic abuse is sin and evil learned behaviors.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- This verse kept speaking to my spirit, heart, and mind during my thirteen-year abusive marriage. How could I protect someone who hurt our children and me? How could I trust him? What hope was there for him to change? What hope did I have that God would deliver me from my marriage of abuse because of my vows? I didn’t want to live surviving, just to say I had persevered. How could this be God’s will?
- These aspects of God’s design of love lit a spark in me to begin studying God’s word. His truth led me to a pastor who helped me see the complete context and true meaning of God’s design of marriage is equal for both parties. The second commandment of loving others as you love yourself helped me realize I had not loved myself equally. These truths revealed that my whole abusive marriage had been a deception. I was not bound to my abusive husband until he killed me. God’s will for me is to live in Christ’s abundance and love, not in abuse.
8 Love never fails.
- In the Greek reference, the word love in this verse is defined as, “God’s love never fails.” It’s our promise from Him that we can always count on His love. As imperfect people on this broken earth, we can’t fully love like However, because Christ loved us and gave his life to pay for our sins, we who claim to follow Christ must strive to love as he does.
I don’t know what your definition of love has become over the messages and experiences in your life, but God does.
You Are Created to Live in God’s Love Design
Isn’t it time for you to be truthful with yourself and God concerning love. What would happen in your love relationships if you equally gave and received love according to God’s love design?
If you realize your love relationship or marriage is struggling or you need more information about abuse, review my resources at https://godstransforminggrace.com/ or contact me personally at Darla@GodsTransformingGrace.com.