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The Pitfalls of Pragmatic Love

Take Time To Love Your Kids!

*This article was discussed on the author's podcast, All Truth is God's Truth, recently. You can find the episode here (iTunes or Google Play). Subscribe for more interaction with culture from a consistent Christian worldview.

Pragmatic love is the type of love a person practices based on a "what have you done for me lately" mentality. Pragmatic love has an ultimate concern for self, and little concern for the other person. When pragmatic love is practiced, the recipient of this love is reduced to an object. Dear Christian husband and/or father, beware lest you find that your love for your spouse and/or children is solely based on how much they benefit you. Consider a couple examples:

1. My wife has had three children. During the pregnancy, at times, the marriage bed may be less active than normal. Also, once the baby is born, for the sake of the mother's health, doctors strongly recommend that the marriage bed cease for at least 6 weeks. Serious medical issues may result otherwise.

The reality is that a husband's love for his wife should not hinge on her sexual availability, but on the reality that she is your bride, you are her husband, and God's Word is true (Matt. 22:37-39; Eph. 5:25). We live in a me-centered culture, especially concerning sexuality. Beware, lest you pragmatically love your spouse based on her sexual availability.

Our God is in need of nothing, yet has freely chosen to love us. He is not in this relationship with us because His beloved is so lovable. On the contrary, He is in this relationship for He has committed Himself to His bride (Eph. 1:4-6). Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Christ gave up His life for His bride. You and I must be willing to bleed for our brides as well. This love is the antithesis of pragmatic love. We love based on Christ's example, not based on whether or not our wives are "meeting our needs." In other words, Man up by dying!

2. My third child, Ian, is 7-weeks old. He still is not sleeping through the night. Most human beings love babies. They're cute, sweet, and cuddly. They, however, are not always cute, sweet, and cuddly, especially when you can't get a good night's sleep because they want to party at 3 a.m.

When my son won't stop crying at 3 o'clock in the morning, he ceases to benefit me. I no longer perceive him as sweet and cuddly when he's inconsolable. Pragmatic love is a real temptation, and insomnia is no excuse for an evil heart. In other words, beware loving your children based on how much they pragmatically benefit you, for the time will come when they cease to benefit you. Instead, love them based on how much your Father in Heaven loves you.

In conclusion, I want to encourage you to consider the strained and/or broken relationships in your life. Are these relationships strained or broken because you're loving these people in a pragmatic way? Also, consider the various times you get angry at your spouse, children, friends, church members, etc. Is your anger righteous, or are you easily angered because you're loving your neighbor pragmatically? When these people are not benefiting you (meeting your needs), do you get angry?

Remember to look to God as your example. You are not "meeting His needs," for He has none (Acts 17:24-25). Yet, He has chosen to love you regardless how unlovable you are. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)." God loves this evil world and everyone in it, not based on them, but on His choice to love. And, if you're a Christian, He has chosen to love you intimately and graciously through the finished work of His Son (John 14:21-24; Eph. 1:4-14). Love like Him.

Jared Moore was dead in his sin and God raised him to life in Christ Jesus. Because of Christ's finished work, he will live forevermore. Jared has served in pastoral ministry in a Southern Baptist context since 2000. He currently pastors Cumberland Homesteads Baptist Church in Crossville, TN. He is married with four children. Jared has authored several books. He is also a PhD candidate in Systematic Theology and a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Kyle Claunch at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.





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