How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Love has been described in very diverse and personal ways by almost everyone who has lived, from philosophers and poets, to artists and clerics. Each has their own unique perspective and expectations of love, how it should be demonstrated, and expectations of how it should be rewarded. Literature is filled with tales of love, the tragedy of love unrequited and the exhilaration of love fulfilled. Shakespeare wrote of Romeo and Juliet as well as of Hamlet, plays that reflected vastly different concepts of love.
Ones concept of love is often a reflection of their culture. When strict moral codes are followed there is a public expectation that the citizenry adhere to its standards. When more liberal standards are the norm, promotion and practices of all types of sexual gratification are condoned and promoted.
These attitudes greatly impact relationships. In the more permissive social order love becomes a recreational activity that promotes erotic gratification more than a meaningful demonstration of love that bonds a husband and wife, and promotes the propagation of ones family. Love and romance become an activity with no responsibility, or obligation to care for and cherish the one pleasures are derived from. One’s intimate partner becomes nothing more than an object of pleasure and self-gratification.
When we look at the permissive sexual attitude we see basic natural instincts unleashed without the properly ordained elements that make the human love relationship significant, and more meaningful than just animal instinct, the need to breed. The permissive culture subjugate
responsibility and commitment to thrill and pleasures, to the sexual conquest. There is a prevailing attitude that it’s alright to humiliate and degrade someone else as long as it provides you with the stimulation and satisfaction you seek. It is alright to abandon the fruits of one’s indulgence so they will not be restricted from future sexual gratification.
There are two distinct natures at work in the arena of sexual stimulation and gratification. The male nature seeks out a partner. He has a hunter instinct. The male is attracted by sight and aroma. So, he searches for the image that brings him the greatest degree of stimulation. When engaged by these stimulations a chemical reaction is set off. Specific hormones are released enhancing his excitement and need for sexual release. The more willing, or receptive ,or what might be considered vulnerable the prey, the more aggressive he becomes.
There are also chemical surges in the female body. Urges that are stimulated by her need to be recognized, desired and loved. She knows how to engage the one searching for her. She fixes her hair, applies make-up, and dresses in ways that best portrays her feminine assets. She finds a perfume that she believes will draw attention to her and facilitate her carefully constructed program of enticement and seduction. Her intentions can be readily discerned by the motivated males. They will seek to persuade her into allowing them to touch her knowing her internal chemistry is triggered by their attention and discreetly placed touches. Special words catered to her interests lowers her resistance to their intentions. Then slow advances, innocent touch in less offensive ways and places, reveal her receptiveness and gradually release her flow of hormones. Once this release of hormones has been initiated she will be driven to satisfy her innate sexual desires.
Nature instills within each individual drives and desires that propagate the species, but humans have been given the ability to exercise rational regulation of these desires and drives. Ephesians 6 tells us that we are to “gird up our emotions (loins) with truth.” Gird up means to bind, to pull up and secure. In the ancient days when the accepted fashion was long robes, if an individual needed to work or run they would gird up their robe. They would pull up the long garment wrapping it around their waist to cover themselves and then tuck it and tie it so it didn’t trip them or become tangled in their feet. It was gird up and bound.
When the writer of scripture used this illustration related to spiritual warfare the concept was to override the natural instinct of emotions and feelings, by binding them with truth. Truth can regulate these desires by activating reason and focusing on the realities of the action and its consequences. Truth requires one to accept responsibility for their actions, and to provide for the needs and the well-being of those who have been impacted by these actions. Abortion has become an accepted and promoted means to circumvent ones responsibilities, allowing them to experience the gratification, but not be held responsible for their actions.
Love in the modern culture is diversified. It is as much a “many splendored thing” as ever. But in our modern culture it has deteriorated into a debase, unbridled, animal instinct accepting no responsibility for the choices made and the actions taken. Because of this many have become disillusioned with love feeling that it is hopeless to secure a real and meaningful relationship. Many experience the emptiness of this meaningless drive for sexual satisfaction. They engage in a never-ending journey to find intimate fulfillment, but they can never satisfy the desires of their lust. They fail to discover that the satisfaction they seek is in the relationship they discard. Commitment and responsibility sustains the environment necessary to produce sexual satisfaction.