The second weekend of the National Association of Nouthetic Counseling Conference (NANC) 2013, in San Antonio, TX, concluded yesterday. Dr. Stuart Scott mentioned the book briefly during one of his sessions! I wanted to thank him in person for doing so, explaining how this book was a topic of conversation with a dear sister earlier that same day!
I shared with him the concerns I conveyed that morning to her, which he confirmed as accurate. Also, Dr. Scott informed me of David Powlison’s chapter-critique from his book, Seeing with New Eyes. Dr. Scott said, “It is basically all about conditional love. I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine. That is why even pagans love to read it.” It appeals to personal felt-needs, feelings, desires, must-haves, lusts of deceit. It fuels self-centered idolatry, not a servant’s heart.
David Powlison’s Review, Love Speaks Many Languages Fluently, reveals how Chapman’s book teaches a secular model on marriage that is rooted in conditional love ideology. As Dr. Scott referenced, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” says Powlison, is the gist of Chapman’s 5LL. In other words, “I’ll love you if you love me,” or “I’ll meet your needs if you meet mine.” That plays out to the 50%-50% mentality at the end of the day. Or 100%-100% could be deemed correct. After all, that sounds exactly like what the world’s psychologists refer to as a win-win situation, doesn’t it?
However, that is a far cry from the biblical model for God’s design for marriage which is all about sacrificial love, exemplified in Christ, selflessly serving and loving ones spouse, unconditionally. ”I’ll scratch your back even if you don’t scratch mine.” ”I’ll love you, even if you don’t love me in return.” ”I am here to serve you.” This looks like 100%-0%. And because of the hope that is promised to believers, which in Christ and is Christ, we are in a no-lose situation (no matter our circumstances, married or single).
Remember, in the Old Testament, Hosea and his harlot-wife? In this true story, we read the reflective depiction of the perfectly loving and faithful YWHW to His chosen, ever-wavering-from-covenant Israel. In the New Testament, the perfect model of love and obedience is Christ who came to serve not be served. His sacrificial atonement on the cross, the giving of Himself for His bride is God’s perfect love manifested in the Son.
We must understand it is the act of giving oneself, not ones feelings and/or emotions, that is primary in loving. Our giving and serving will be imperfect. We are, after all, still sinners by nature. But, nonetheless, saved by grace, we must strive after Christ! Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20). God so loved that He gave His one and only Son (Jn 3:16). He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). We must seek to obey to love, serve and be merciful in Christian love without the expectation of a return (Lk 6:32-36).
Drawing nearer to this figure of 100%-0%, living life here in marriage, for regenerated sinners is biblical and speaks volumes of love languages while each spouse is being transformed into the image of their Savior, Christ the Lord, in whom all hope resides. By God’s unending grace, repentance for sin and faith in Christ, in obeying His commands in humble servanthood to please Him with all thankfulness, this is where sanctification happens for the married couple through the indwelling Holy Spirit by the Word (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:22-33; 1 Thess 4:2-8; 1 Thess 5:18).
Though Powlison recognizes some practical, helpful application by Chapman toward thoughtfulness, the argument continues that even pagans do that for the give-to-get conquest. And for us, from this former mindset we must flee!
Beloved, looking to Chapman and his book for advice, and all its spin off versions for children, teens and singles, is not wise. It will send you in the opposite direction of God’s Word, building a house on sand (Mt 7:26-27). As always, be alert and avoid any opposing or conflicting theologies toward God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-6). Refuse to receive vain, empty, ear-tickling philosophies which are assuredly found in psychology models and practices (Col 2:8).
If your marriage needs help, may you be encouraged here to seek biblical counseling through the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) or pastors, elders, teachers in like-mindedness honoring the doctrines of the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures for all matters of life, faith and heart/mind/soul/spirit.
1. The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) Conference, San Antonio, TX 2013, Dr. James Allen Fain III.
2. Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, John MacArthur and The Master’s College Faculty, p. 120. (parenthesis mine)
See Also, False Gospels: The Psychology Movement