There’s No Such Thing As Everlasting Love
Article by Emily Esfahani Smith
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What is the Science?

Love is one of the most important ideas in the Christian faith. Christians often talk about true love as unconditional and eternal. However, new research into the biochemical and physiological components of love suggest that it is actually a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” This research might challenge some common perceptions of love, especially those that emphasize either the unconditionality of love (such as between a parent and child) or the romance of love (such as between two newlyweds). While the physiological response involved in a “micro-moment of positivity resonance” cannot be manufactured, one can make space for these moments throughout the day and embrace them when they happen.

What is the Theology?

Pastors can use this research in combination with scripture to widen a congregation’s understanding of love. Sermons can explore the importance of connecting with people one encounters throughout the day, as it can give hope to those feeling lonely or isolated. Sermons can also highlight the growth of love that is possible in our lives as we practice and receive the love of others.

“Thinking of love purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person—as it appears most on earth do—surely limits the health and happiness you derive [from love].”

-Barbara Fredrickson

What to Consider

  • If love is understood as a “micro-moment of positivity resonance,” how does this change your understanding of love? Is this research missing something in its definition of love?
  • What micro-moments of positivity resonance have contributed to intimate relationships in your life?
  • How can we understand our love for God and God’s love for us in terms of “micro-moments of positivity resonance?”

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Psalm 107 concerning the way God related to Israel throughout its history. Compare and contrast it with the idea of love as “micro-moments of positivity resonance.” Invite others to share their stories of experiencing God’s love in light of this research.
  • Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, Timothy and Paul–three friendships that exemplify love. Explore some of the early “micro-moments of positivity resonance” that formed these friendships (Ruth 1; 1 Samuel 18, 20; Acts 16). Discuss the way these moments relate to the biblical ideal of unconditional, selfless, and eternal love.
  • Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13 and share this research on love. Explore the ways love understood as “micro-moments of positivity resonance” might change the way one views romantic love. In light of this, share some ideas for how love can be nurtured and strengthened for newlyweds and those who have been married for several decades.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

10 Comments

  1. Weabz April 6, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    First, thanks for the research and article but I honestly am a bit troubled. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the point of the article, but to look at love with this “scientific finding” from a Christian perspective is confusing, especially in light of the very nature of God, who is love. God’s love is perfect, we know this because He is three in one and exemplifies the perfection of love within the Trinity.

    “Micro moments of positive resonance” may be applicable for us as fallen sinful men who do not love perfectly. But we must look at what God says about love and how we are to love, as this is one of His immutable characteristics. And since it is immutable, it is also everlasting. True love is everlasting, because God is everlasting, eternally past and eternally future.

    Therefore, His love for us is everlasting and that should be our focus when speaking of love, and encourage to walk in His love and look forward to the day when we are with Him eternally and can partake in His perfect love

    • AustinF May 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Totally agree. This is one of those troubling times where science seems to be the filter for the Bible, rather than the other way around. Of course the world doesn’t truly understand love! That’s a huge theme in the Bible. True love is revealed by God because God is love, but not the love that the world understands. Steadfast, sacrificial, selfless love is biblical love.

      • AustinF May 19, 2017 at 3:54 pm

        If love is a micro-moment of positivity then how can I be assured that God loves me through the times (and it’s a lot) when I am sinful? Don’t let the world define biblical love, that robs God of His glory in His love for unloveable people.

  2. Weabz May 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Coming back to this article is again frustrating. If we are believers we must filter science through Scripture not make Scripture submit to science. And to even question the understanding or reality of unconditional love on the basis of some research that really can’t effectively address the issue is concerning. So if science says there is no “everlasting love” then what does that mean for God, who IS love? So many troubling things in this research and article.

  3. JarrodCraw May 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I think that you’re right – science is just wrong when it posits that there’s no ‘everlasting love.’ However, think about marriages. Do you always ‘feel’ love for your spouse or do you make the decision to love him/her everyday? What about someone who doesn’t have a significant other? Do they ‘feel’ love from others all the time? I think this article supports the idea that love is an action which we decide to undertake. We all know that acts of love can help someone who is lonely to feel loved, but we don’t expect that ‘feeling’ to last forever, either.

  4. aidenkang May 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    How does this new research give us insights into the love of God when it’s a research about physiological & biochemical components of love, especially given that God is spirit?

  5. aidenkang May 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I can see it from a human perspective regarding human love, but I just can’t agree that it has anything to say about the everlasting love of God.

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org August 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      That’s a good distinction Aiden. God’s love is categorically different than human love independent of God’s love

  6. marymact@gmail.com August 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Yes, as humans our ability to love is certainly flawed and broken, but I agree that God’s love is beyond our own and that he can and does love us everlastingly.

  7. matt@ncstudycenter.org August 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    I wonder if this science really has ramifications for our theology of agape love or not. While the science might give a physical/mechanistic explanation of love, I’m not sure this challenges/affects our theology of what love is as Christians.

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