The phrase ‘love is love’ is common, but can be misleading

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

When people say that ‘love is love’, they usually mean that people should be allowed to date and marry whoever they like regardless of whether they are male or female. But this phrase ignores the fact there are many different kinds of love – family love (parent/child or between siblings), friendship love, romantic love – which are all very different.

God is Love

The Bible is actually a love story and shows us that all love ultimately comes from God. We are created for relationships, both with God and with each other.

God is Love [1]: it is at the heart of His nature and we only experience love because of Him.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

Relationships on earth help us to understand different aspects of God’s love:

  • A father’s love God is presented early in the Bible as a Father when He talks about His people (the Israelites) as being His son [2]. In the New Testament Jesus talks about God being His Father [3] and tells His followers to address God in the same way [4]. If we have an earthly father who cares for us deeply and would do anything for us, that gives us a glimpse of how God loves us. But even if we don’t have a loving father, the Bible tells us that God loves His people more than any earthly father could [5].
  • A mother’s love The Bible also gives us glimpses of God’s love through the examples of a mother’s love. For example, in Isaiah 49:15, where we get a picture of a mother feeding her baby, the question is, ‘Could a mother ever forget this?’ God says that even if she did, God could never ever forget us.
  • Friendship love Friendship is somewhat under-rated in our society, although the Bible shows us that friendship is very important, such as Jesus’ friendship with His disciples (for more on a Biblical view of friendship, see this article). The message nowadays seems to be that it is only a romantic (even sexual) relationship that is essential to being happy and fulfilled and that not to be in one is to be missing out. From an early age the pressure is on to find a romantic partner, rather than helping young people to realise the importance of friendship. This can lead many young people (especially those who have not yet gone through puberty) to become confused about their close friendships and wonder whether the close bond they have means that they are same sex attracted.
  • Romantic love The Bible talks a lot about romantic love (you may not have realised this) – there is a whole book called Song of Songs which celebrates romantic (and sexual) love. Romantic love was designed by God to draw a man and a woman together to consider marriage. It is most fully expressed in marriage, which the Bible says is a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church [6]. The intensity of feelings and the physical closeness we can have help us to understand the intensity of God’s love for us.

Most people experience all of these kinds of love at different times of their life, and relating to other people in love helps Christians to understand God’s love for us. However, all Christians will need to say ‘no’ to romantic desire and sexual attraction at times, whether that is towards someone of the opposite or the same sex. As a married woman, I am not free to have a romantic relationship with anyone other than my husband – I need to say ’no’ to any other desires I experience. A person who is not married, whether they are attracted to someone of the opposite sex or the same sex, will need to keep their desires under control if they want to follow the way that God intends us to live.

More than a feeling

Christians also need to remember that love, in any kind of relationship, is much more than just the feelings we have for other people. The Bible teaches us that when we genuinely love someone, whether it’s a family member, a friend or someone we’re dating or married to, we will make an effort to treat them well (even when they get on our nerves!) and show God’s character to them in the way we behave [7].

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:7

We will often struggle and may need help in all our relationships, but we always need to remember that God created us, He loves us perfectly and therefore knows what is best for us.

  1. 1 John 4:7-8
  2. Exodus 4:22-23
  3. John 5:17
  4. Matthew 6:9
  5. Matthew 7:7-11
  6. Ephesians 5:31-32
  7. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7