Around our house, everybody pitches in to help keep the house in good shape. So after dinner, my eight-year old daughter, Grace, helps my wife load the dishwasher. My four-year old son, Daniel, wipes the table. Emma, three, helps clear the table. And even my little one-yr old daughter, Lily, can waddle over and put a fork in the silverware basket of the dishwasher.
As soon as we declare dinner is over, the first things our kids want to do is run into their rooms and play, skipping the chores. So we have to call them back in and remind them of their duties. Usually we hear some kind of grumble like, “But we don’t want to.” Our answer, as always, is, “You may not want to, but this is what you are to do.”
Guarding our purity is similar. There are a lot of moments when temptation arises and in our hearts we say, “But I don’t want to avoid that.” In fact, many times, the heart wants to betray our marital commitments. A little glance, a flirtatious conversation, an ill-advised Google search, a randy joke.
But it is duty—commitment—that helps us say no to temptation and keeps us from spoiling love. This is why I believe love is not always a noun, something that happens to you. Sure, there is a mystery and beauty of romance when you meet the one you can’t live without. However, anyone who has been married for more than a few months realizes that while that kind of love sparked the fire, it will be the active love that will keep it going. Love becomes a verb, full of action. It forgives. It endures. It repents. It cares. It works.
This is why love needs commitment. Because the heart is sinful. It cannot be trusted. It wanders. But duty—a wedding ring, public vows before God and witnesses, Internet filters—these things are the guardrails that keep you in the path of pure love.
And what you experience, after working at a lifetime of committed love, is a level of deep intimacy and joy you never find when you allow your wandering heart to steer your life.
There are many days when you don’t have that magical lovin’ feeling. And yet commitment keeps you there, in the place, where a lifetime of repentance, forgiveness, and grace usher you into the sweet spot of gospel-fueled marital love.