Yes, love is commanded. True love begins in the will, not in the emotions. That love is commanded seems incomprehensible even to many Christians. The world has conditioned us to believe that one “falls in love and that love is a romantic attraction between the sexes. “Boy meets girl and falls in love” is the most popular theme of novels and movies. Yet “love” without God brings sorrow.
“Falling in love” is perceived as being helplessly swept up in a mysterious, euphoric, overpowering feeling over which one has no control and which, inevitably, loses its magic. One is thus equally helpless in “falling out of love,” and thereafter “falling in love” with someone else. A commitment of the will is missing. We are commanded to love with purity—God first of all, with our whole being, and then our neighbor as at least a partial correction of our natural tendency to excessively love ourselves. Love is a commitment to God that demonstrates itself in human relationships.
Yes, falling in love transforms for a time those who experience this emotion. One suddenly becomes a different person. Someone else becomes more important than oneself, bringing deliverance from the slavery to self that ordinarily imprisons us all. Self no longer receives priority, but another has become the primary focus. The love and attention that once was lavished upon oneself now is given to the one who has become the object of one’s love – and that brings tremendous freedom and joy. This temporary release from self-centeredness explains more than anything else the ecstasy of love – a fact that those “in love” generally fail to realize.