Last night I had the unfortunate experience of watching the movie Love Actually. I thought the movie would be a holiday heart warmer, but it turned out to be a disturbing revelation of our cultures misguided view of what love actually is.

First the movie portrays the meaning of Christmas as a holiday you are supposed to spend with someone you “love”. Christ was love, and if you take him away you remove the real meaning of love. It goes on to show four different relationship scenarios allegedly containing “love”. First there is a middle aged Prime Minister who falls in “love” with a intern 20 years his junior (of course). Then there is the middle school boy who “loves” his classmate. The last two scenarios are much more disturbing. There is a best friend in “love” with his friends new wife. Finally, there is the husband of 13 years who falls for his much younger secretary.

The message in each of these stories is love is a feeling. It is a strong physical attraction that drives you to be with the other person this instant. It abandons self-control or rationale. It is completely inconsiderate of present commitments. It is all about me, and how you make me feel. The movie portrays people living their lives according to animal like instincts that cave to hormonally driven feelings, and labels this as love.

All of these characteristics fly right in the face of what God tells us love is. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Hollywood’s portrayal of “love” is impatient. It has to have the other person right now. It is rude and inconsiderate of any third parties (spouses) that are involved in the scenario. It completely degrades aging women. It rejoices when someone leaves there current spouse to chase after “true love”, which is injustice. It always gives up on the marriage when feelings fade, and does not endure any circumstance which does not make the person happy.

You may wonder, “Why would a movie bother me so much?” These messages are not just entertainment in our culture. People are buying into this nonsense, especially are young minds. The divorce rate itself is evidence of that. I for one am sick and tired of our culture taking the beautiful things God intended for us, and turning them into enticingly wrapped emotional baggage.

Be prepared to spend your entire life chasing after fleeting emotions and racking up heartache till you are numb to every feeling except depression if your definition of “love” is the same as Hollywood’s. Love is a decision. If we love ourselves, we will choose to exercise self-control and honor commitment in our decision making. The picture Hollywood paints of love is lust actually.