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Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female.

Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female.

4.8 6
by John Mark Comer

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In the beginning, God created Adam. Then he made Eve. And ever since we've been picking up the pieces. Loveology is just that—a theology of love. With an autobiographical thread that turns a book into a story, pastor and speaker John Mark Comer shares about what is right in male/female relationships—what God intended in the Garden. And about what


In the beginning, God created Adam. Then he made Eve. And ever since we've been picking up the pieces. Loveology is just that—a theology of love. With an autobiographical thread that turns a book into a story, pastor and speaker John Mark Comer shares about what is right in male/female relationships—what God intended in the Garden. And about what is wrong—the fallout in a post-Eden world. Loveology starts with marriage and works backward. Comer deals with sexuality, romance, singleness, and what it means to be male and female; ending with a raw, uncut, anything goes Q and A dealing with the most asked questions about sexuality and relationships. This is an audiobook for singles, engaged couples, and the newly married—both inside and outside the church—who want to learn what the Scriptures have to say about sexuality and relationships. For those who are tired of Hollywood's propaganda, and the church's silence. And for people who want to ask the why questions and get intelligent, nuanced, grace-and-truth answers, rooted in the Scriptures.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Portland, Ore., pastor Comer (My Name Is Hope) takes a historical and biblical view of male-female relationships, drawing from stories such as Adam and Eve and Isaac and Rebekah. He refers to Hebrew words for three types of love: friendship, erotic, and unconditional. He also addresses gender wars: “Marriage is a place where Jesus’ healing power is at work to set people free from thousands of years of fighting between the sexes and from all the wounding we carry from the war.” His writing is informal and infectious, growing on the reader as the topics get more intimate. Before it became a book, Comer’s content was presented in a seminar with 2,000 young adults in a warehouse in Portland. So it includes a no-holds barred q&a transcribed from that seminar about masturbation, sex, marriage, and same-sex attractions. Gay or straight, he writes, “to God, your sexuality does not define you. Rather, God defines you. The Scriptures open by saying you are made in God’s image. Because of that you have intrinsic value, worth, and dignity.” (Feb. 4)

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God, love, sex, marriage, and the never-ending story of male and female

By John Mark Comer


Copyright © 2013 John Mark Comer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-33726-3




I believe in love at first sight. Well, kind of.

It was the sixteenth of September, 1998. I was at a party with friends, outdoors on a hot summer evening. In the Northwest we get an Indian summer, and September is my favorite time of the year. It was a perfect day—high 70s, but with a soft breeze. The trees over my head were making that swishing sound they do when they flirt with the wind.

In the middle of a conversation, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. She was a vision of long, curly black hair and deep, almond-shaped eyes, and she was walking toward me.

You know those guys who are suave with the ladies?

I am not one of them.

Girls make me nervous. I'm clumsy and awkward on a good day. And this girl—well, let's just say all my fine motor skills went out the window.

I'm sure I was staring. Heck, I was probably drooling. I dropped a pen I'd been fiddling with. "Shoot. I'm such a klutz." Before I could reach down, she walked over and picked it up off the ground. "Here ya go," she said—and all I could do was stare at two of the brownest eyes I'd ever seen.

She might as well have said, "Will you marry me?"

I was hooked. There was something about her smile. It was warm and disarming. She was calm. Relaxed. Soothing. Everything I'm not.

And she was beautiful. I mean, crazy, over-the-top, don't-even-try-or-you-will-make-a-fool-of-yourself beautiful.

Everything after the pen is hazy. I'm sure I muddled through a short dialogue and embarrassed myself. But I remember I didn't sleep that night.

Or the next.

Or the next.

She took over my mind. Her troops marched in and colonized my imagination. All I could think about was seeing her again.

A few weeks later I said to a friend, "I think she's it."

He was annoyed, understandably. "What? You barely know her!"

And he was right. It was an impetuous thing to say. I barely knew her. But that didn't matter for one simple reason: I was in love.

I had no clue what was coming around the bend. No idea that our picture-perfect romance would be followed by a less-than-ideal marriage. That my entire paradigm for our relationship was seriously off-kilter. That hard stuff was brewing on the horizon.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

At this point in my story, I was awash in feelings of romantic love—attraction, tension, mystery, allure. I was in love, deeper than I'd ever been. Drowning, and loving every minute of it.

Time for a definition

In love. What does that even mean?

"Love" is a junk drawer we dump all sorts of ideas into, just because we don't have anywhere else to put them.

I "love" God, and I "love" fish tacos. See the problem?

The way we use the word is so broad, so generic, that I'm not sure we understand it anymore. How should we define love?

To some, love is tolerance. I hear this all the time in my city. The idea is that rather than judge people, we should "love" them. And what people mean is that we shouldn't call out something as wrong. After all, as long as it's not hurting anybody, who are we to judge? And while this sounds nice, and forward, and progressive, it doesn't work for me. The opposite of love isn't hate. It's apathy. And there's a fine line between tolerance and apathy.

To many of us, love is passion for a thing. It's the word we call on to conjure up all our feelings of affection. We love hiking, or we love that new record by the band you've never heard of, or we love chips and guac.

When we aim the word at people, we usually mean the exact same thing. When we say we love someone, we mean we have deep feelings of affection because they make us feel alive all over again—adventurous, brave, happy.

Love, by this definition, is pure, unfiltered emotion. And your role in love is passive. It's something that happens to you. Think of the phrase "fall in love." It's like tripping over a rock or a curb. And it's fantastic. But there's a dark underbelly to feeling this kind of romantic love. If we can fall into it, then we can fall out of it.

What happens when the emotions fade or disappear? What happens when someone else makes you feel even more alive? Then you have a serious problem on your hands.

If you're dating, it's not the end of the world. You break up and move on.

But what if you're engaged? Married? Do you stay together, even though you're not "in love" anymore? Or do you go the way of the 50 percent?

I believe that marriage is for life. Remember what Jesus said? "What God has joined together, let no one separate." I stand with Jesus , which is why I think we need a redefinition of love that will stand up to the frontal assault of life. And we find that redefinition in the Scriptures.

There's a letter in the New Testament called 1 John. It was written by a guy named—well, I'm sure you figured that part out. John was one of Jesus' disciples. He spent three years with Love-incarnate, and he was known as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." That pretty much makes him an expert on the subject.

John's definition of love is blatant and clear-cut—"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Love = Jesus on the cross.

There you have it, in black-and-white.

If you want to know what love looks like, don't look at a dictionary. Look at a Jewish prophet crucified outside Jerusalem. Look at God in the flesh, giving his life away for the world.

Does that sound anything like "deep feelings of affection"?

Don't get me wrong. I have no doubt that Jesus was feeling something in that moment. It was "for the joy set before him" that "he endured the cross." Love is emotion, but it's gotta be more than that.

Notice that John uses the word love as both a noun and a verb. "This is love ... that he loved us ..."

Love is a noun and a verb.

Put another way, love is a feeling and an action.

When it comes to the feeling of love, you're in the passenger seat. As I said before, your role is passive. It's something that happens to you. But with the action of love, you're at the wheel. Your role is active. It's something you do.

And the feeling of love isn't bad. There's nothing wrong with romantic feelings. The first song (Adam's poem in Genesis 2), and the longest song (Song of Songs) are both celebrations of romantic love. If you are "in love"—enjoy it. We are emotional creatures. God made us that way. Romantic feelings are a gift from the Creator God.

But at its root, feelings can be selfish. Behind all the flowers and poetry and twitterpation, there's a narcissist hiding in the closet.

When we say "I love you," what we often mean is, "When I'm around you, I feel happy. You make me feel better about myself. Comfortable in my own skin." Now, that's not all bad, but you don't have to be a psychologist to figure out where that road leads.

Love, the action, the verb, is a whole other story. At its core, love—as defined by Jesus on the cross—is self-giving.

Over and over again, the authors of the New Testament point to Jesus' death on the cross as the ultimate act of self-giving love.

In another place, John writes, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ..."

The prolific author Paul writes that God "did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all ..."

And in Paul's mind, Jesus' death is the model for how a man is to love a woman. Later he writes, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ..." Husband or wife, male or female, we can all take a lesson from that.

Why love is about washing feet

This idea of Jesus as the model for how we are to love each other sounds docile and tame and cliché, but when we actually read about the life of Jesus, it's stunning.

I love the story in The Gospel of John where Jesus washes the disciples' feet. In the first century, foot washing was the job of a servant or, worse, a slave. The streets were unpaved. Filled with dirt and muck and animal droppings. People walked around in sandals, not shoes, and by the end of the day, their feet were ... well, use your imagination. But Jesus, the embodiment of the creator God, the God who made humans from the dust on the street right outside the door, picks up a towel and starts to clean the grime from between John's toes.

Imagine the mayor of a city pulling up a manhole cover, dropping down into the sewer, and starting to shovel crap. Now dial that up by a factor of a gillion, and you're starting to see what's going on in the story.

When Jesus finished with the disciples' feet, he asked, "Do you understand what I have done for you?" Almost as if to point out the staggering implications of what just happened. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

Jesus' life is the example for how to love.

It's that easy.

And that difficult.

Because to Jesus, love is serving. It's cleaning garbage off his feet. It's wiping grime from between her toes. It's choosing—choosing of your own free will—to play the role of the servant, the least important person in the room.

And that is not easy to do.

That's why love is commanded by God in the Scriptures. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another." In fact, Jesus said the greatest command in all of the Torah (the Bible of his day) was to "love the Lord your God ... love your neighbor as yourself."

Remember how we talked about the difference between the feeling of love and the action of love? You cannot command feelings. You can only command actions. God does not command you to like your neighbor or to have deep feelings of affection for your neighbor. He commands you to love your neighbor.

But what kind of love?

The Jesus kind of love. Cross-shaped love. The down-on-your-knees-with-a-smelly-towel-in-your-hands sort of love.

When you strip love down to its essence—its core—it's self-giving. Yes, it's romantic feelings, but we have to understand that it's so much more.


In Hebrew, there's this word ahava, and it's a godsend as we learn about love. In English, we have just the one word—love—to denote a wide range of positive emotion, but in Hebrew, there's a handful, and each one draws out a specific nuance.

You can rayah somebody. That's the love you feel for a friend. In fact, it can be translated "friend" or "companion." In one ancient Hebrew story, a man says to his girlfriend, "Arise, my rayah, my beautiful one, come with me." Rayah is when you want to get out of town, spend time together, talk, play, goof off, and just do life shoulder to shoulder. We all need a good rayah.

Then there's dod. This word is used in the opening line of Song of Songs. The woman says, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your dod is more delightful than wine." Dod is when you see a woman and you instantly want to make babies with her, when you see a guy and all you can think about is what his skin would feel like up against yours. Dod is when keeping your hands in your pockets takes every ounce of strength in your being.

We'll get to dod later ...

For now, let's drill down on this word ahava. This kind of love is something more. Something deeper, wider, and stronger. It's both of the above—rayah and dod—plus some. It's a love that goes down to the soul, the deepest part of your being. It's a love that is unbending and unflinching, and that doesn't take no for an answer. It's relentless and implacable.

At the climax of the poem called Song of Songs, there's a moving stanza ...

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for ahava is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench ahava; rivers cannot sweep it away.

Are you picking up on the imagery?

Ahava is like death, like the grave—an unstoppable force that we are powerless to fight off.

Ahava is like a fire out of control, engulfing forests and cities. It cannot be quenched.

And ahava is like a tsunami, a tidal wave of fierce, unbridled power bearing down on the world.

The point of the poetry is that ahava is strong. Feelings, no matter how vivid, in the long run, are weak. They come and go. But ahava has resolve. Staying power. It has that word we all tend to avoid—commitment. Over time, it builds up a head of steam, and it breaks through every obstacle. It's a love of the heart, and a love of the will.

My grandparents on my mother's side have been married for sixty years this summer, but a few months ago the doctor found a tumor on my grandma's brain. They rushed her into surgery, and right now she's in recovery. She can barely string together a sentence, but my grandfather is right at her side, 24/7. And here's the crazy part—they are more "in love" than ever before. That's ahava.

Ahava is the one and only kind of love that will carry a relationship past the early "deep feelings of affection" and through the whole of life—decades of highs and lows, marriage and family, a career and unemployment, suffering and celebration, sickness and health, and well into the epilogue of life.

You can't build a marriage on deep feelings of affection alone, because they're unreliable. Flaky would be an understatement. And you can't build a relationship just on rayah. Friendship is vital, but you need an extra spark, something more. Dod isn't enough either. No matter how beautiful he or she is, over time, the body will start to wrinkle and age and decay. What happens then? When you still have decades of life ahead of you? You need something more.

You need ahava.

The Via Dolorosa

I still think about that night so many Septembers ago when I first saw my wife. We were kids. I was a freshman in college, eighteen years old. I had no clue what I was getting into. Nobody told me the "deep feelings of affection" fade after a few years. I guess I wasn't listening when the experts said that people who marry young have higher divorce rates.

But even if I had known all that, it wouldn't have changed a thing. I still would have chased her to the world's end. It was feelings that started it all, but we needed something more to make our marriage stick.

Here we are today, with over a decade of marriage under our belts. Three kids, a mortgage, and—thank God—no minivan.

And we still love each other.

There are days when we're "in love"—when we feel love. When we feel the déjà vu of that first night in the park. And then there are days when we are tired, annoyed, and grouchy, and we feel—let's just say—"other" kinds of emotions for one another.

Through all of life, though, we are learning to love each other in Jesus' way. Learning the genius of cross-shaped love.

A while back, I spent a month in Jerusalem. I wanted to learn more about the context for Jesus' life, and there's no better place to do that than in the City of Peace. But a month is a long time to be away from home, and the entire time my mind was turned to my wife. Absence was doing its thing, and I was realizing—all over again—what a gift Tammy is to my life. After endless hours together, I still missed her. I still craved her next to me when I nodded off to sleep.

One night I walked the Via Dolorosa—the road Jesus walked to the cross. It's a moving experience to imagine Jesus—the creator of everything—covered in blood and open wounds, tripping his way up the hill to Golgotha. And that evening, walking in the Judean heat, the gravity of Jesus' love hit me all over again. That's what Jesus means by "love one another." It's a love that feels—deep, raw, and true emotions. And it's a love that does. A love that walks through the crowd of haunting spectators and up to a Roman guard waiting with a hammer and a bag of nails.


Excerpted from Loveology by John Mark Comer. Copyright © 2013 John Mark Comer. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John Mark Comer is pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Master's degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary and is the author of two previous books: Loveology and Garden City. Comer is married to Tammy and they have two boys, Jude and Moses and a little girl, Sunday.

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Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female. 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What does love really mean? "Love is a noun and a verb." "'Love' is a junk drawer we dump all sorts of ideas into, just because we don't have anywhere else to put them. Example, I 'love' God, I 'love' fish tacos. See the problem?" John Mark Comer has a way to reach the human heart and mind. Some might find some of the things he says as crass (example would be when talking about the desire for porn he says "jacking off"), but honestly, he is using lingo that many people use in every day talk. He helps us see what love is. From God coming to Earth as a human, to gay relationships. And everything else in between during a relationship about a man and his wife. They are your friend, partner, and lover. I love when "Christian" authors aren't afraid to talk about sex and marriage and how they are so important and entwined. GOD MADE IT. It's NOT a taboo. After all, Song of Songs is a love poem dedicated to a man and a woman and their romance and desire for each other. I grew up in a home where sex was NOT talked about and was told how 'bad' it really is. I have a very open relationship with a man that has become my best friend and we have a long distance relationship. While we may not have the physical implication between us, we do have very intimate talks about sex. He is the only one that I have felt safe talking about things like that. I don't feel embarrassed. I think that is what God wants for us when we find our mate. Also, I love how John Mark talks about singleness as being a gift. I remember for the longest time wanting to get married and have children. I still do, but at the same time, that intense waiting was the WORST! But, the waiting brought a very special man in my life as well a stronger relationship with God. This book is for everyone: single, engaged, married, gay/straight. We are all in need of love. And this book reminds us what it is to love and be loved. On the down note, the only thing that I had a hard time with was the pink pages with white writing. once my eyes adjusted to it, it was a shock to switch from the pink to a plain page! But over all, this was a very quick read and suggest it to everyone.
FollowingThePath More than 1 year ago
What is the purpose of marriage? Should everyone get married? What does the Bible teach about premarital sex? What does the Bible really teach about homosexuality? In the book Loveology, John Mark Comer uses the Bible as a context to answer these and many more questions about God, love, sex, and marriage. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is looking for answers to these questions and to understand what the Bible has to say. There are even chapters in this book, such as the chapter on homosexuality, that I would encourage non-Christians to read so they can understand where Christians are coming from based on the Bibles teachings. Some of the key points of this book are as follows: - The Bible teaches that sex is to be shared by a man and a woman in the context of marriage. Any sexual act outside of marriage is considered sin, going against God's will for us. Sex is a bonding of two people at a very deep level, and to have sex outside of the marriage relationship can be very damaging indeed. - Any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. This means heterosexual sex and homosexual acts are sinful outside of the context of marriage. Since marriage as God intended is between a man and a woman, that is why homosexual acts are considered sinful. A person can be gay (attracted to people of the same gender as themselves) and still be a follower of Christ if they abstain from engaging in homosexual acts just as a single person can be a Christian living according to the Bible if they abstain from sex until they are married. - Marriage was created for many reasons that John Mark Comer discusses in this book. One of these main reasons is that of the couple working together to help fulfill God's will for each of them. They have to be on the same wavelength and help each other cultivate their gifts to reach God's will for them. I wish I understood these teachings more fully before I was in a romantic relationship, but understanding them now helps me to fully grasp how important my marriage is in fulfilling God's will for both myself and my husband as well as for our children. I am going to pass this book on to my husband and suggest that he read it. I also intend on having each of my children read this book when they reach high school age. I think it will give them a much better understanding of why they should wait. Overall, this is a great book. Five stars!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently read Loveology God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never Ending Story of Male and Female by John Mark Comer. Loveology is a great read in an auto-biographical way showcases some intimate moments between John Comer and his wife. Comer breaks down what it takes to have a successful relationship into four parts. As a preface to Loveology, Comer speaks about the classic biblical tale of Adam and Eve (one of my favorite passages to read and discuss). As the book continues on, Comer delves into how to make a meaningful relationship through love, marriage, sex, romance and ultimately what makes males and females tick. He uses references and verses from the Bible that many of us have heard numerous times, but have misunderstood regarding our relationship with our spouse and/or mate. Comer incorporates the knowledge that we have, with the verses and clearly states how we can make our love lives with our spouses more significant when the love of Jesus is present. Loveolgy is a beautiful book Loveology is visually appealing. The font is both clear to read and neatly spaced. There are some pages that utilize a pink background with white words, but are still completely legible. There is nothing obnoxious about the book’s format, but rather inviting and comforting. There are a few verses that are in larger, pink fonts that help set the tone and meaning for the pages ahead. There are a few extras in the book that include an interview with Tammy Comer, John’s wife, and a local professor named Dr. Breshears. There is also a section of proverbs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago