~ Dan Ledwith
It is my humble opinion that one of the biggest blunders one can make in attempting to define love from a biblically Christian worldview is to insist that love is not a feeling, but a decision or a commitment. The temptation to define love in that way is a reaction to the popular cultural understanding that love is a happy, feel good, fluffy kind of feeling. The popular understanding of love as a feeling that you can fall into and out of depending on the day of the week and the condition of your stomach is certainly not compatible with a biblical understanding of love, but neither is the thought that love is merely commitment or a decision. Are you telling me that the love between the king and his betrothed (or between Christ and the Church if you take that view) in Song of Songs was all about decisions that did not have anything to do with feelings? You can’t read the Psalms without seeing that David’s love included delight, joy, sorrow, anger, hope, and longing—all of which are feelings!
Yes, Jesus did say that you can’t have greater love than a love that lays its life down for its friends (John 15:13). But remember that Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 13:3 (CJB), I may give away everything that I own, I may even hand over my body to be burned; but if I lack love, I gain nothing. In other words, you can do the act, and not love. You can’t equate love with an action, or a decision, or a commitment, because any of those things can be done without the heart being in them. I think Jonathan Edwards said it best in Religious Affections (WJE 2:99-100),