Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Five Love Languages

Justin Taylor has an excellent post reviewing the very popular book, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. 

Here are some highlights:

Chapman’s model, Powlison argues, fails the class “Human Nature 101.”
Like all secular interpretations of human psychology (even when lightly Christianized), it makes some good observations and offers some half-decent advice (of the sort that self-effort can sometimes follow). But it doesn’t really understand human psychology. That basic misunderstanding has systematic distorting and misleading effects. Fallenness not only brings ignorance about how best to love others; it brings a perverse unwillingness and inability to love. It ingrains the perception that our lusts are in fact needs, empty places inside where others have disappointed us. The empty emotional tank construct is congenial to our fallen instincts, not transformative. It leaves what we instinctively want as an unquestionable good that must somehow be fulfilled. It not only leaves fundamental self-interest unchallenged, it plays to self-interest. . . .
Powlison goes on to contrast this perspective with the foreign “love language” of Christ:
The love of Christ speaks a “love language”—mercy to hellishly self-centered people—that no person can hear or understand unless God gives ears to hear. It is a language we cannot speak to others unless God makes us fluent in an essentially foreign language. We might say that the itch itself (an ear for God’s language) has to be created, because we live in such a stupor of self-centered itchiness. The love language model does not highlight those exquisite forms of love that do not “speak your language.” You and I need to learn a new language if we are to become fit to live with each other and with God. The greatest love ever shown does not speak the instinctively self-centered language of the recipients of such love. In fundamental ways, the love of Christ speaks contrary to your “love language” and “felt needs.” Does anyone naturally say, “I need You to rule me so I’m no longer ruled by what I want”? Does anyone naturally say, “For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity for it is great” (Psalm 25:11)? Does anyone naturally say, “My greatest need is for mercy, and then for the wisdom to give mercy. I long for redemption. May Your kingdom come. Deliver us from evil”?
God’s grace aims to destroy the lordship of the five love languages, even while teaching us to speak the countless love languages with greater fluency.
 Please take 5 minutes to read the whole thing here.

While this book has some excellent insight into how people communicate love, it can be understood and practiced in a way very contrary to the Kingdom ethic of love we find in the Sermon on the Mount. King of Grace church is going through a series on the Sermon on the Mount entitled, "Kingdom Living".  Listen to the message on Kingdom love, "Be Perfect", here.

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