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LoveologyLoveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex...

By John Mark Comer

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Author Interview

Pastor John Mark Comer Explains Loveology, the Theology of Love

By Jessica Dodson
Social Media Marketing Producer - What is love? Why do we get married? Is it for love or for something else? Maybe it is just the idea of having a wedding. In today's culture, we are bombarded with what music to listen to, what we should look like, even how our fairytale engagement should unravel.

In the midst of preparing for your "big day", have you stopped and prepared yourself for being a spouse? From the hit songs "Marry Me" by Train to "All of Me" by John Legend, the purpose of marriage and the meaning of love is shifting. The focus is now on satisfying the self rather than being pleasing to God.

Aiming at people who are either "single, dating, engaged, or just getting a marriage up and running," Pastor John Mark Comer answers questions surrounding God's thoughts on marriage and sex in his new book, Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-ending Story of Male and Female.

What is "Loveology"? Why is it important for you to teach 20-somethings what God says about marriage, sexuality and romance?

Comer: Love, marriage, sex – this is the thing that most young people are thinking about 24/7. It's all consuming for a lot of singles. The Scriptures have so much to say about all of the above, but sadly the church has said so little.

The church has done a great job of saying, "Don't"! "Don't have sex before you get married. Don't have an affair. Don't download porn." And all that is true. But we haven't done a great job at giving young people a theology of love and marriage and sex and the rest, a way to think about this from God's vantage point.

Hollywood has done the exact opposite. It's propaganda is loud and ubiquitous. It screams at us everywhere we go. So the church has got to step up, tackle the hard questions and help people to think about marriage and sex from the scriptures, and in line with Jesus' vision for human flourishing. My prayer is that Loveology is a voice into a much larger conversation.

How do you think parents can benefit from Loveology?

Comer: This generation is asking why questions, a lot of why questions. Parents need to do more than tell their kids where they can and can't have sex. They need to pass on a worldview that's shaped by Jesus and the biblical authors... to get the why behind the "do's" and "do not's". It needs to be compelling, thought through and rooted in the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus. Hopefully, Loveology can and will help parents lead their kids into the way of Jesus and His Kingdom.

What would you say to young people about dating?

Comer: For starters, you have all sorts of freedom. The scriptures don't say a thing about dating. The practice is less than 100 years old, and the scriptures were written thousands of years ago. If you want to talk about what's "biblical", it's arranged marriage. Aside from a few overprotective parents, I don't think anybody wants to go back to that! So you have all sorts of freedom in how you go about the journey from "hello" to "man and wife".

That said, when I read the love stories in the Old Testament and the Song of Songs, I do see some marks of a healthy relationship pre-marriage. In the book, I list four…

  1. The dance – This idea of a man calling a woman out, risking rejection, and leading the way into a romantic relationship. And the woman creating a safe place for him to lead.
  2. The line – This whole idea of "Don't arouse or awaken love until it so pleases." Meaning, don't wake up the sexual part of your relationship until marriage, when you can follow those desires all the way through.
  3. The friends – Involve family and friends in your relationship. Don't isolate. Let people speak into the whole thing from start to finish.
  4. The journey to the day – All healthy relationships are either moving towards or away from marriage. Not in an intense, pressure, you need to kiss dating goodbye kind of way, just with a sense of movement. Dating to date is a waste of your heart and your time. You're not looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend; you're looking for a husband or wife.

In Loveology, you mention how the word love is being over used; i.e. "oh, I love that book" or "oh I love that movie". What affect do you think that is having on society?

Comer: Well, I think it's cheapening it. It's such a ubiquitous word that it's lost its meaning or at least its biting edge. We need to get back to Jesus' life and death as the template for what love actually is.

If you had to pick one thing, what should every marriage have and why?

Comer: Friendship. "It's not good for the man to be alone." We were created for relationship and community. Marriage isn't the only way to live in community, but it's sure a good one. Friendship is what will be there long after all the feelings and chemistry and beauty and sexuality has gone. Forty years from now, I want to enjoy my wife's company, and want to go out to dinner with her.

Aside from sexual activity, in what ways can someone save themselves for marriage?

Comer: That's such a hard one. And it so depends on the couple and the backstory. As a general rule, I'd say go slow. Don't dump all your pain and past on somebody on the first date. But, if the relationship starts to get serious, you have to talk through that stuff. Sin in your past isn't nearly as lethal to a relationship as secrets are. You can't have intimacy with secrets or it's just a charade.

What is the key to true love?

Comer: Learning that love isn't a feeling, or at least just a feeling, but rather an action of self-giving for the good of somebody else. And then cultivating a heart that wants to be like Jesus to your spouse, no matter what you do or don't get out of it.

In a world so connected and intertwined, why do you think so many people feel alone and disconnected?

Comer: The digital age is creating the facade of community, but often it's a myth. We're more fragmented than ever. Plus, we're not rooted, we move around a ton. We're transient; we jump from thing to thing. We need to re-learn how to be friends, how to live in community and how to be human.

What can we expect next from you? What do you think about Kidology?

Comer: Ha Ha... no way! I'm just starting my next book. It's on work, rest and what it means to be human. I'm super excited about it.

John Mark Comer is lead pastor at Bridgetown: A Jesus Church, which is part of a family of churches formally known as Solid Rock in Portland, Oregon, a city with one of the highest percentages of irreligious adults in the nation. Bridgetown is unique in that about half of the 6,000-member church is made up of educated, unmarried college students and 20-somethings.

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