"How does the church's view of love differ from the world's understanding of love and romance?"

Great question – and sadly, many people don’t even think there is a difference. 

First, let me suggest to you to beware of falling into the temptation most people do from the cultural teachings around us: do not confuse infatuation with love.  Infatuation is that wonderful feeling we get when we discover someone who receives our affection and returns it.  It makes us feel good about ourselves and even the world.  However, that is not love.  I am not putting infatuation down - it is wonderful.  But the church could not ask you to a VOW of love if love was about feelings.  Love is not about feelings; it is about commitment. 

We don't get to decide how we feel.  We can be honest about them or ignore them, but I can't decide "I will be happy" or "I will not be angry."  I wish we could sometimes, but we can't.  So the feeling of joy and connection is a wonderful thing, but the church doesn't ask you to make a vow to feel a certain way...nobody can keep that vow.  What the church asks is that you be committed to someone (love them, perform loving action for them) in spite of how you feel.  Think of it this way, nobody who has been married (or even dating) for any length of time has that happy feeling of infatuation all the time.  That feeling comes and goes.  Love is when we say "I am committed to you in good times and bad, when I feel that sense of infatuation and when I don't even like you for a time." 

People who listen to the culture which equates infatuation (the feeling) and love (the commitment) thinks it is perfectly reasonable to say to someone "I have fallen out of love with you."  What they mean is "I no longer feel the same way about you."  Well that is not love...it is infatuation.  Nobody who understands love according to scripture would say "I have fallen out of love with you" as if commitment is something that just comes and goes.  They might sadly say "I am no longer committed to you," but that is different from pretending that love comes and goes, without our choice.  That is why I hate the term "fallen in love."  We don't fall in love, as if it is beyond our ability to control.  We fall into infatuation (and it is wonderful).  But love is a choice, a commitment we make for the other in spite of anything that might happen in the future. 

And that distinction also explains why real love (commitment) between husband and wife is an earthly reflection of God's love (commitment) to us, no matter how stupid or sinful we might be acting at the moment.  God's love does not come and go.  Neither should the commitment between husband and wife. 

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