How to Know the Difference Between Love and Sentiment


February 8, 2018

Love is an overused word in our culture.

The point at which the word will become meaningless is near, if not already here. How many times have you used “love” to refer to the most mundane? How often do we use it as a descriptor of a fleeting feeling?

“I just loooovvvve pumpkin spice latte.”

A popular phrase lately is “Love is love.” There is a political goal behind it, but it is essentially meaningless.

  • “Water is water”
  • “Wind is wind”
  • “Shoes are shoes”
  • “Work is work”

Marriages have been started based on “falling in love”. Is it really possible to just fall into a lifelong commitment to stay with a person, no matter what happens? To fall into a commitment to stand by your spouse who becomes ill and slowly wastes away before your darkening watery eyes? To fall into 65 years eating breakfast across from the same person, every day – a person who doesn’t think like you?

I think you know the answer.

  • In sentiment, feelings reign.
  • In contrast, love and justice are interconnected.
christoph-schmid-258813

Photo by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash

What is more fundamentally loving than self-sacrifice? What more demonstrated committed love than the cross of The Messiah? The cross was about love and justice.

Sentiment can be anti-love, because it can result in ruined character. Imagine a mother raising her children guided only by sentiment – good feelings of love. Oh,wait. That is already happening.

In fact, there is a Proverb, politically incorrect in the extreme, which says that to “spare the rod” is to hate the child. Marinate that one in your brain for awhile.

Overly “loved” children, whose parents come to their raging defense every time they spurn the rules for their particular activity, often being school requirements, usually become thoroughly self-focused demanding juveniles who live in large bodies. I am sure you have heard the term “helicopter parents”.

The resulting  chaos of sentimental parenting and decisions affects whole cities.

Really, do you think emotionally mature people would riot in the streets, with destruction on their minds?

Why would one of the wisest men who ever walked this earth write such an outrageous proverb as the one above? He must have known something about human behavior. (I am sure he did, since he lived with 1000 women. Which cannot be described as a wise choice for a life that flourishes, as he learned. The wisest man who ever lived had a gigantic blind spot.)

I have written before on the phenomenon of children running their households. I believe parents who define love primarily as sentiment contribute to this situation.

It is a problem when sentimental love is the guiding force in a home. It’s much worse when it then becomes a cultural force. We have come to the place where we believe law can be guided by feelings. We believe truth is guided by feelings. Never mind feelings change all the time.

Sentiment is not a great foundation for public policy. It’s not a good foundation for any policy at all. Probably fine for recalling warm memories, it is a terrible guiding light for decisions small or culture-altering.

  • Love is commitment to another person. It is other-oriented.
  • Love comes from the Creator.
  • Sentiment is me-oriented.

I am not denying here that sentiment is an emotion, and emotions also come from the Almighty. But sentiment is often misdirected and mischaracterized as love.

We all know, in love and marriage, there is personal satisfaction and gratification. Yet, when we talk along the lines of a person being the one who will “fill all my dreams”, are we thinking of getting or giving?

When we think primarily of our needs and wants as we head into a marriage relationship, and covering over realities with sentimental gauze, the marriage is in danger as it leaves the shore.

When we expect our spouse to meet our needs, we put a strain on the relationship. Yes, that person should meet your needs, but from his own motivation and love, which is giving. Mutual giving is the best. Too many times marriages go down in bitter flames because one person was not meeting the other’s expectations, which are often self-focused and demanded.

This is counter to how we think, but the Messiah said it is more blessed (prosperous) to give than receive.

  • Sentiment tends toward receiving.
  • Love tends toward giving.

Love lasts. Sentiment flies like the wind.

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