Don't Do Anything for Love

Do the right things.

Being a 90's kid, I've seen every episode of Friends so many times. But my least favorite was the one where Rachel goes to London to tell Ross she's still in love with him--on his wedding day with Emily.

There's one particular scene where Phoebe tries to convince her not to go, but Rachel says she has to tell Ross how she feels so he can make an "informed decision". Phoebe retorts that the real reason she's going is because she's hoping Ross will say he loves her too. She then says that her going will only ruin his wedding and that it's too late. She missed her chance.

Of course, Rachel ends up going to London anyway with the support of a cheering studio audience. The Rachel and Ross story arc is beloved by fans because the will they/won't they narrative ended the way everyone hoped: they will. They were meant to be.

As they say, love will find a way. No matter the obstacle (including other people), love will win out in the end. Or so we're told. We're told that when two people find love in each other, it's a beautiful thing regardless of the circumstance. Those who get in its way or dare to condemn it are the ones in the wrong.

With Rachel and Ross, Emily was in the way. Though the screenwriters didn't make her particularly sympathetic after her wedding to Ross, the point is that she was never supposed to be with him in the first place. Rachel was. Emily may have gotten hurt in the process, but that was her own fault.

Besides, any wrong committed on Rachel's part was covered by the love she had for Ross. The apostle Peter said that's what love does, it covers a multitude of sins. So long as our love is genuine, we can practically get away with murder because all that matters is love.

It doesn't get much sexier than having a body count accompany your affection. We can rationalize it all we want, but love does no harm to anyone because love is selfless.

When Paul spoke of love being patient and kind, he also mentioned that it wasn't self-seeking. Earlier in the same letter, he even told us to not seek our own good but the good of others so they may be saved. That's love. Not some juvenile hormones itching to mark their territory but a genuine affection that puts the other person above ourselves.

Putting others above us includes putting them above our love for them. In other words, love doesn't always make a way; sometimes love gets out of the way. Love that forces a way isn't love at all, it's possession.

It can be hard to tell the difference between love and possession, but a good rule of thumb is asking yourself whose desires you're fulfilling: yours or the other person's. When Rachel said she had to tell Ross how she felt, her definition of love was satisfying her desires even though Ross made his desires clear by proposing to Emily. In the real world outside of Hollywood, Rachel never loved Ross, she just wanted to have him.

You never have to tell someone how you feel, and it is certainly not romantic to break up a wedding because you know better than everyone else who's meant to be with whom. If you truly love someone, you'll let them go if that's what they want. Trying to make that person yours against all odds reveals a love turned malignant and a mind seduced by the efficacy of imposing harm.

From teenage breakups to the adultery of those who know better, possession is pervasive and easily disguised as love in a hedonist culture. But Christians do not vow "to have and to hold". We vow to serve and to sacrifice till death do us part. It's a high calling and one not sustained by flowers and chocolates. Don't enter into it lightly.

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Photo credit: Lisa Zins via / CC BY