After about a year’s work on the manuscript, I’m happy to announce that my latest book is finally in print and available on Amazon (you can sample the book on their site, and the Kindle edition will be coming soon). It’s called What Love Does and Why It Matters: Romance, Relationships, and 1 Corinthians 13.
In part, the book was born out of the repeated experience of preaching on Paul’s “love chapter” at weddings. After one ceremony, I overheard a disgruntled guest grumble, “I didn’t know this was going to be a religious wedding.”
But it did leave me wondering what people truly understand of Paul’s famous words. The question becomes even more relevant when you consider that even for Christians, 1 Corinthians 13 has become so closely associated with weddings that the text may get co-opted by what I call a “culture of romance.”
Thus the book. The first four chapters address the use of the word “love” in Scripture (no, agape doesn’t just mean “Christian love”), the role of emotion (love is neither just a feeling nor a decision), and the culture of romance (as seen, for example, through the lenses of romantic fiction and fairy tale). The point of these early chapters is to awaken us to our assumptions about love, many of which are shaped more by pop-culture influences than by the Bible.
A transitional chapter immerses us in the biblical portrait of God as a loving Father, against the background of the personal doubts created by our suffering. Paul’s life as an apostle was an excruciatingly difficult one. But he could not write as he did, nor live the life he lived, without being thoroughly convinced of the Father’s love. That confidence needs to be the starting point for understanding and absorbing Paul’s teaching. The remaining chapters then present a detailed exposition of 1 Corinthians 13, with suggestions as to how Paul’s words matter for the church and our relationships today.
Paul was not writing about romantic love. But what he says is relevant to all our relationships, including the romantic ones. That’s because he was trying to communicate a vision of the Christian life that was both transcendent and yet grounded in the realities of relationships between flawed human beings.
He had his hands full pastoring the Corinthians. They tended to be a contentious, arrogant bunch. But the Holy Spirit was active among them. Paul loved them, and wanted them to love one another. He had to teach them what it meant to follow Jesus, teach them to think and behave differently.
They had a lot to learn. And so do we.
Each chapter ends with questions for personal reflection or group study. My hope is that the book will be read by married and unmarried Christians alike, and used for discussion groups in local congregations. Pastors may wish to read the book before officiating their next wedding, or even give it to couples as they prepare for marriage. And those involved in various forms of marriage or relationship ministry may find here a broader vision to help support whatever skill-based programs they may be using.
If you find the book helpful, I would greatly appreciate it if you could write a brief review on Amazon, or let others know through Facebook and other social media. Meanwhile, thank you for being a reader of The Fog Blog!