The Lost Love Language Nobody Likes to Talks About

Love is in the air, or it is something we fall into. Rarely do we think about love as an action, and even more rarely do we ask ourselves, what does it mean to love? Is it all a feeling, or is it something more? Is it something we are supposed to figure out as we go, or is there a manual? Is there such a thing as a love language and if so, do they apply to everyone? Do they apply to God?

It’s been more than 20 years since Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, was released, back when I was a young college coed in a relationship, which I hoped would be my last. It has remained favored reading material of engaged and married couples alike and has even spawned several variations, including versions for Singles, Teenagers, Kids, for Men, a Military Edition and a version for parents about their Children. Chapman even added similarly styled books on the Five Languages of Apology and the Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, securing his name in connection Five Languages of just about everything.

Just in case you’ve somehow avoided this best-selling book for the last 20 years, the five love languages as described in the original book, include gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch, and, according to Chapman, each language is spoken or understood in different amounts and combinations in different people. Learning to speak the love languages of those who you love, is the key, he asserts, to demonstrating love to them in a way they can receive it effectively.

But what if he missed a language? What if Chapman failed to mention a language that is so singly important, yet also so misunderstood and feared, that we’ve almost completely removed the wording related to it from marriage, parent-child relationships, and even church. In fact, Scripture suggests that this is the single most important love language of God, but nobody wants to talk about it.

So, What Is God’s Love Language?

I think Chapman is really onto something with these five languages, as evidenced by the book’s popularity. Certainly, we can easily see Biblical evidence of love for God in four of the five – gifts, quality time, words of affirmation (or adoration), and acts of service. I admit that the fifth language gave me pause, but I do believe it passes the test as well.

However, in Scripture, I see one more thing regarding how we are to love God, and it’s not in these five languages.

In the New Testament, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 (NASB).

Woah. Stop the presses, folks! Jesus wants us to obey Him? If we love him, we have to obey His commandments? Is obedience a legitimate way to show love? Didn’t we eliminate that old-fashioned nonsense?

While we can speak love to God in so many ways, He is also clear in I Samuel 15:22, when, “…Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (NIV)

For a second Old Testament reference, we have 1 Kings 8:61, saying “Let your heart, therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD your God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” (emphasis mine)

If we love Him, we will obey Him. True. That is because, when we call ourselves His, we are no longer our own. We no longer represent only ourselves, but HIM! We represent HIM, and when we reject obedience to God, we place His character on the line. Not just our own.

So, we are called to reflect His character, the character of Jesus, but how do we reflect Jesus character? What do we obey, if that’s the key?

  • First, we should do the things He did! (Obey His Father’s Commands)
  • Second, we should do them how He instructed us. (With Love for God and For Others)
Isn’t that just Legalism?

Legalism is a constant fear in the modern church — so much so that we nearly reject obedience altogether. And that is precisely where, I believe, we’ve gone wrong. We fear legalism at the expense of becoming law-abiding citizens of the Kingdom. We’ve stepped full on into lawlessness and being led by our woefully deceitful hearts, because avoiding legalism at all costs has become the mantra of the church.

When you spend time in His Word, it becomes clearer that God desires obedience very much. But just like I as a parent desire my children to obey me because they love me, respect me, and know that I have their best interests at heart, so God wants our obedience in the same way.

Legalism says we obey because we have to, to earn something, or to prove something. Loving obedience says, I choose to obey, because you love me and I love you and I know you want what is best for me.

A loving Father doesn’t then turn around and disown His children when they make a mistake, or even when they choose to do what is wrong for a time. That is ridiculous! Yet, that is the very argument I hear often at churches and from believers. “If you break just one commandment, you’re guilty of breaking them all and will be doomed to hell.”

Can’t I Just Love God My Own Way?

This is a really interesting question and one I asked, as well. Chapman’s book seems to indicate that when we try to love others with our own love language as opposed to theirs, we miss the mark. We fail to love them in a way that speaks love to them.

For example, when my husband chooses to love me by hugging me really tight in the kitchen, I may not feel loved. Now, if he washes the dishes? That screams love to me. When I speak encouraging words, he feels loved by me, but when I make the bed, he may not even notice. So, yes, it matters.

God loves when we show we love Him through gifts or service or praise, but he would rather have obedience. He said so. You could say obedience is God’s primary language.

is Obedience a Sixth Love Language in Marriage?

I know we are getting into even touchier areas here, and I’d like to preface this by clarifying that I ain’t got this down yet! Obeying my husband, submitting even, is a daily, moment-by-moment battle for me, and I suspect most women, but it’s not one I’m willing to give up on.

I would argue that the same love language of obedience applies to marriage, as much as we don’t like it. In fact, in spite of how cringe-worthy it seems in the 21st century, “To love, honor and obey…” used to be standard marriage vows, replaced by the word submit, and then later removed altogether from most couple’s marriage vows.

Obey is a scary word in an independence-driven culture. It can be even scarier when you don’t trust another human, even your spouse, to do the right thing and make the right choice. Yet even when the results are uncertain and pride tells us to do our own thing, we have to fight our own will and choose obedience out of love. 

That is because, when we are in the world, around people who know we are married as evidenced by our wedding rings, our behavior reflects on our husbands, whether we like it or not. If my husband has asked me to dress conservatively, but I wear short shorts and crop tops whenever he isn’t around, it will reflect badly on him. Not just me. If I behave outrageously or spitefully, word of it might get back to him, but people’s perception of our whole family will persist either way. If I go on a spending spree without his knowledge or approval, financial consequences will happen to both of us. In a marriage, we become one, and our behavior reflects on each other.

Interestingly, I saw this {almost} humorous video about a top executive wives’ grooming school in Australia. Women were instructed how to behave, speak, use appropriate manners, dialogue well with other top-tier professionals, entertain, and even dress to best represent their husbands. A woman who did not “measure up” could prevent her husband from earning the job of his dreams. Sound crazy?

Consider, if you will, that the same applies to Christians. A careful reading of 1 Timothy 3, shows that men will be held accountable for how well they manage their households, as well as their wives’ character and behavior being considered in whether or not they are suitable for elder- or deaconship.

I imagine that no amount of gifts or apologies could undo the damage after defaming our husbands in public. No apology could give my husband another shot at a job that was jeopardized by my poor behavior, if in fact, obeying Him could have prevented it in the first place.

What If Your Husband Wants You to Disobey God?

Because I know some people like to seek the loophole, I thought I’d go ahead and offer this for you. After establishing that to love God is to obey Him, what do we do when that means disobeying your husband, and thereby not showing him love in that way?

Here we have an assortment of dilemmas, don’t we? First of all, if we are experiencing this, we can probably ask if either we or our husbands are in sin. Most likely it is both of us. Perhaps we married an unbeliever. Perhaps we have been dishonoring to our husband in other ways.

First of all, we are called to obey God before man. When we are asked to disobey God, we should automatically know that we can’t do that. We should obey God first. He is our Maker, our Savior, our Master, so obedience should be clear. However, to obey God, we must first know His law and what He wants of us, or else it’s just a guessing game.

Neither can we use this as an excuse to get our own way. We must obey God while still showing love, compassion, and understanding to the one who asks us to sin. We must be willing to peacefully explain our position, to inform them of God’s laws, and then to refuse to sin.

Secondly, if we marry an unbeliever, we have become unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14) and poured on ourselves a host of trouble. God will help you overcome, but this chosen disunity is a natural consequence of being disobedient to the Lord in the first place.

If you came to the knowledge of Messiah after becoming married, you still may have difficult times ahead, but God will give you the grace to deal with it. In either case, we are called to submit to (aka: obey) our husbands in such a way that they are won over by our love and faith (1 Peter 3:1).

I bet you’re sorry you read this.

It’s no joke that this is a hard word for the modern American woman, who seeks her own way, who may have a college degree and a good income of her own, for the modern woman who says what she means and means what she says! It’s no joke that this is in stark contrast to everything our culture values. It is the very antithesis of feminism!

But I still hope that because you love the Lord, that because you love your husband that you will prayerfully consider whether there is any truth in this. I’m not suggesting becoming a doormat, or a dumb-as-a-rock wife with no opinion on anything, but I am suggesting that to love is to obey, and there is nothing easy about it.

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