I do a
lot of marriage counseling. Hardly a week goes by that I am not confronted with
a couple in marital crises where one of them tells me about what love language
their spouse is missing, or how their love cup/tank runneth dry. This teaching is
found in popular self-help marriage books like Gary Chapman’s The 5
Love Languages (hereafter 5LL). These concepts have so infiltrated the church that virtually
every couple in trouble is aware of some aspect of them. Some even come with
lists of ways their spouse does not meet their emotional needs.
book, Seeing with New Eyes, David Powlison states, “The core premises of 5LL are
simply false” and I agree with him. This methodology sets up a “give to get”
mentality within marriage, and places enlightened self-interest at the
forefront of marital interaction. It removes the obligation to love one
another selflessly as a response to receiving Christ-like love.
Like other books that integrate psychological
thought with Christianity, 5LL places emotional needs
before spiritual ones and elevates the desires of the heart to places of
prominence. In this paradigm, everything is focused on how my spouse
can and should meet “my needs.”
love-language paradigm ignores the fact that our hearts are idol factories and
human beings will always choose self-worship and demand others worship them before
selfless worship of God. The truth is, our “needs” are a never-ending stream of
selfishness, self-focus, self-worship, and self-satisfaction that no human
being can ever satisfy.
Biblical Counselor, I must be able to clearly (and biblically) articulate the
problems found in troubled marriages, and then be able to correct wrong
and sinful beliefs as I train my counselee’s in righteousness.
I do this
by focusing on Christ’s love languages of grace, mercy, unconditional love,
forgiveness, selflessness, sacrifice, repentance, and faith. This
list is clearly incomplete but the rest are easily found within the chapters
and books of the greatest love letter ever written, The Bible. I
point my counselees who are in the middle of marital messiness to the Word of
God for answers and direction, and not a self-help book.
If you are
presently looking for help with a marriage problem, I urge you to find a
biblical counselor who will rely on Gods sufficient Word to help you with your