Love You ‘Til I Don’t: Love Never Lasts

For most pop bands, love songs are their bread and butter. LANY, a pop trio based in Los Angeles, is no different. Across their albums, love and its heartaches is the consistent theme. On the group’s most recent album, gg bb xx ( titled explicitly not to mean anything), their attitude towards love becomes almost fatalistic. Rather than looking for life-long love, singer Paul Klein asks his girl (and his listeners) to accept that even when love is at its best, it will only last until it doesn’t work or he doesn’t feel it anymore. The LANY frontman suggests that when it comes to whatever we call “love,” our first allegiance is to our feelings. To him, there’s nothing bigger or more meaningful in which to ground the idea of love.

 

Love You ‘Til I Don’t
Klein does not mince words on “til i don’t,” explaining to the world that, if we’re being realistic, we should not expect love to last. He sings,

But let’s do the math,
Nine out of ten times it don’t last,
Even as friends
The year that we’ve had’s already a win
There’s a note of positivity in these lines, as Klein tries to convince us that a year of love is “a win,” but anyone can see through the attempt to look at things positively and realize that what he’s really saying is don’t count on him in the long run. These pessimistic words seem at odds with the optimism and profession of faithfulness in the first two lines of the song’s chorus:

Gonna give my all, see how far this can go
Gonna be there for you, through the highs and lows
Here, Klein promises to be there for his girl no matter what. His “through the highs and lows” is reminiscent of the marital vow, “for better or for worse.” However, the second half of the chorus takes us back to the beginning of the song and reminds us where he really stands on the matter of love:

But I’ll never say “Forever” ’cause it’s too much we don’t know
But I promise that I’ll love you, promise that I’ll love you ’til I don’t
It turns out that Klein’s “[I’m] gonna be there for you” is conditional, and the condition is entirely arbitrary and up to him: “I’ll love you ‘til I don’t.” That is perhaps the least reassuring sentiment anyone could ever offer to a loved one. Nevertheless, to Klein and his bandmates, “til i don’t” is simply an honest song. It seems that the members of LANY have nothing more than their own feelings upon which to hang their concept of love. When “love” is defined by one’s feelings, the logical conclusion is that everyone will only ever love you until they don’t.

Taking LANY to the Altar
LANY gives a particularly stark message about love, but they are not the only ones who think love doesn’t last. British pop singer James TW takes the same attitude towards love and applies it to the difficulty of divorce in his song “ When You Love Someone,” which has garnered nearly half a billion streams on Spotify. TW wrote the song for one of his music students when he learned that the student’s parents were getting a divorce. To his credit, TW wrote the song as a kindness in order “ to tell the boy the news in a way he’d understand.” TW’s song, despite its attempt to put a positive spin on it, gives an account of love that is just as bleak as LANY’s. As TW explains, lasting love is something that, when we grow up, we understand is a fiction and the best we can hope for is love that lasts for a while before dissipating. Speaking to a child supposedly too young to understand the reality of love, TW sings,

It don’t make sense, but nevertheless
You gotta believe us, it’s all for the best
It don’t make sense
The way things go
TW acknowledges that losing love, particularly love pledged for a lifetime in marriage, goes against a deep sense most people have of what is right. It doesn’t make sense, but those who know what love really is know “it’s all for the best.” TW continues,

Sometimes moms and dads fall out of love
Sometimes two homes are better than one
Some things you can’t tell your sister ’cause she’s still too young
Yeah, you’ll understand
When you love someone
To TW, “falling out of love” is a basic fact of reality. In effect, he is saying, “when you love someone, then you’ll understand that love never really lasts.” At best, if love does last, it is by luck or chance. When he sings, “some things you can’t tell your sister ‘cause she’s still too young,” he suggests that the type of love children believe in is a fantasy that brings comfort but doesn’t match up to reality. TW’s acceptance that the “falling out of love” that leads to divorce is “all for the best” follows directly from LANY’s “realistic” view that we only love someone ‘til we don’t.

A Christian View of Lasting Love
How should Christians respond to a perspective that does not think that we should expect love to last? Unfortunately, a high percentage of marriages (Christian or otherwise) do end in divorce. 1 Corinthians 13:8 tells us that “love never fails,” but reality seems to tell us otherwise. If love does end for so many, should we say that there is any love that can be relied upon to last?

The Christian view of love has an entirely different starting point than that of LANY or James TW. Instead of a bleakly “realistic” outlook and an idea of love based upon feelings alone, Christianity offers a transcendent basis upon which to build our understanding of what love is. First and foremost, “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and our understanding of love must be defined by who God is. What it means to love, then, is neither defined by what we see as love or by what we feel as love.

The Christian view of love has something to say about how things should be, not just how things are. It is true that it is not uncommon for there to be circumstances of abuse or unrepentant unfaithfulness in which we might say that divorce is “for the best” ( 1 Corinthians 7:14-15, Matthew 19:9, Exodus 21:10-11), but that is always because of ways in which sin and brokenness become realities within a marriage. Divorce is never the normal best next step for “falling out of love.” Even within divorce it may be possible for one or both spouses to continue to love the other, but
we cannot think of divorce as a normal outworking of true love.

Biblical love has implications for how we treat people, not only when we feel like we love them, but even when we don’t have feelings of love towards a person. The apostle Paul gives an extensive definition of what love should look like: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”1 The bar set for love in the Bible is high, but the reason for why we love is found in 1 John 4:19: “We love because [God] first loved us.” Since God’s love for us is the reason for us to love others, our goal should be for our love to be like the love of God, love that does not rely merely on feelings and will not naturally fall apart or disappear over time.

Knowing that love is based upon the character of God, Christians understand that there is true love that lasts, and we can model what that love looks like in a world that lacks plentiful examples of true love. Marriage can be a self-centered endeavor without the belief that love is meant to last, an arrangement that is good only as long as it is useful and self-fulfilling. Such an approach to marriage and love is the logical outworking of the “love you ‘til I don’t” sentiment. However, marriage is not meant to be about us (Ephesians 5:21-25 ). Rather, Christian marriage can be a lifelong pursuit of living out the love of Christ towards another person.

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