Love is Not Rude

One of the characteristics that reveals the force and nature of love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, is that “love is not rude”. Or, as translated by the King James Version, love “doth not behave itself unseemly”. In essence, the expression means that those who embody true, biblical love do not speak or act in a way that is indecent, offensive, or dishonorable to others. If this is an expected quality regarding the Christian’s relationship with others, in general, it is even more important we reflect this principle in our most important human relationship of all – with our partner in marriage.

In biblical terminology the word translated as “rude” or “unseemly” has many related meanings. It can literally mean to behave in a way that is improper, indecent, disgraceful, shameful, or that brings reproach. While this description is certainly accurate, it tends to leave some with the impression that the term deals with only the most outrageous or egregious of human conduct.

However, the same term also describes behavior that is much more subtle. Rudeness, in this sense, refers to words or actions that are offensive, hurtful, or an embarrassment to others. Even when one’s demeanor is relatively mild or calm he/she can still be guilty of being rude. Unbecoming words and ill-mannered actions qualify as being rude no matter what the impetus or circumstances.

In any case, when one behaves in a way that is contrary to good manners or morals they are rude by biblical standards. This is true whether one offends the ear or the heart of another. By contrast, the opposite of rudeness is to be courteous, mannerly, decent, civil, and respectful. One who achieves these virtues, and thereby reflects real love, speaks and acts with good-will and positive regard showing honor to others.

It is a tragedy that for many in our society the one person who they claim to love more than anyone is the same person to whom they are the most rude – their spouse. This simply should not be. From a biblical perspective Christians should not be rude to anyone at all, not even when mistreated or provoked. So, why is it that some regularly treat strangers with more respect and dignity than they do their partner in marriage whom they have promised to love and honor?

Often in marriages, rudeness is disguised as “honesty”, “openness”, or “truth”. At least this is the excuse or justification that is presented. However, words and actions that offend, hurt, or embarrass your spouse are disgraceful regardless of the motivation. By contrast, those who truly exemplify biblical love for their partner will be principled and disciplined enough in their speech and conduct to reflect the respect, dignity, regard, and honor that should characterize a Christian marriage.

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