Are the Five Love Languages Even Biblical?
“Can you even find The 5 Love Languages in the Bible?” This question came up during one of my coaching events (for lack of a better term) in my Facebook group. I had been promoting the event for a few weeks already when the question came up. I’ll admit it stumped me for a hot minute. But it also intrigued me.
I’m a firm believer in teaching primarily from the Bible. I’ve used other tools and resources in addition to the Bible but at any point I find what’s in front of my contradicting the Bible, then we’ve got a problem. Did the 5 Love Languages contradict what God teaches through the Bible? Prior to that conversation I hadn’t really checked. Afterwards, I was eager to find out.
What Are Love Languages?
Love Languages is a term coined by author and teacher Gary Chapman. It describes five different methods of extending love to the people you care about. What makes them unique is that they are one of the few methods of extending love that are not self-serving. Here, the giver isn’t looking for any amount of love or affection in return; they are simply choosing to love long, love hard, and love in a way that others best recognize it. Chapman goes in depth on the topic in his book The 5 Love Languages but for the sake of time, space, and conversations I’ll just give you a quick run down.
Acts of service is loving people by serving or helping them.
Physical Touch is using touch (outside of sex) to express love.
Words of Affirmation is loving, admiring, and building each other up through words.
Gifts is showing love and appreciation through thoughtful giving.
Quality Time is loving your spouse through focused high quality time together.
Of these 5 Love Languages each of us has what Chapman refers to as a primary love language. It is the way we BEST RECEIVE love. Each of these love languages are important, but its likely that there is one that is more significant to you than the others.
The 5 Love Languages is about finding that one method of extending love and consistently implementing it in your relationships.
Where are Love Languages In The Bible? Did Jesus Use Them?
If you’re looking for the term, “love languages” in the Bible you’re not going to find it. But the concepts are there and Jesus did an incredible job showing us how to use them. You don’t have to wait until the New Testament to see evidence of Love Languages in the Bible. They are scattered all through out the Old Testament too. As far back as creation.
Think about it. God created an exquisitely beautiful world entirely for us (gifts); one that met our every nutritional need (acts of service). He created mankind with His own hands, in His image, and breathed life into them (physical touch). From the day He created us He called us “good” which at that time and for centuries after actually meant “holy.” Did you know that? That’s a pretty awesome example of Words of Affirmation if you ask me. PLUS He came down from His throne to talk and walk through the garden with Adam and Eve (quality time).
More Old Testament Examples
We aren’t even half way through Genesis and we’ve already seen how God in His perfection showered us with each of The Love Languages! He doesn’t stop there either. He is consistent in His love for us all through out the Bible; in want and plenty, struggle and victory.
When the Israelite’s wandered the dessert for forty years God provided them with food from heaven (Acts of Service – or possibly even Gifts depending on how you look at it).
The Psalms are FULL of scripture describing God’s adoration for us (Words of Affirmation).
The first of the Old Testament commandments is, “You shall have no other God before me.” That and the fifth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” speak to God’s desire to have an intimate relationship with us. He set a side an entire day (plus some technically) for us to rest in and connect with Him! That is Quality Time at it’s finest!
Of course, there are some things that changed when Jesus’ life and the New Covenant came into the equation; but Love Languages was not one of them.
Learning from Jesus How to Use the 5 Love Languages
Did Jesus use the 5 Love Languages? By now I’d hope you can answer that question by yourself, but if you’re still unsure, let’s talk more about it.
Jesus and Acts of Service
Jesus not only demonstrates The 5 Love Language, He also teaches about them. Taking things a step further, He even commands us to carry them out. He expects us to follow His lead. And he came to serve.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to becomes great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man didn’t not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ ” Matthew 20:25-28 (NKJV)
Jesus and Word of Affirmation
You can learn a lot about Words of Affirmation from the book of Proverbs, but Jesus also talks about them in the New Testament; just not in the way most might think. I want you to grab a dictionary and look up the word “affirmation.” Most of us think of affirmation in the sense of flattery and compliments but there is so much more to it than that.
To affirm something is to speak to the truth of it. It’s not just pointing to someone and saying whatever cute thing comes to mind. When we speak words of affirmation over people, we are declaring truth to them. Not in a way that condemns but in a way that loves, edifies, and in some cases convicts. I know, I know; conviction doesn’t sound all lovey-dovey. But we learn through Jesus’ example that sometimes the truth people need to hear isn’t going to give them that lovey-dovey feeling. But remember this, “God corrects those He loves.”
Did you enjoy that rabbit trail? Now back to the good stuff. When Paul is writing his letter, sharing Jesus’ teachings to the church of Ephesus, he addresses speech and it’s proper use.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)
This example too (set by Jesus) is plastered all over scripture. In Proverbs 18:21we are warned that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Jesus came to give life. We can follow in His footsteps by using words of Affirmation to speak life and truth into others.
Jesus and Quality Time
Do you remember me mentioning at the beginning of this post how important the Sabbath was to God. His deep desire for us to keep it. Well, guess who held fast to that desire and showed us the importance of quality in our walk with God? Jesus! The Pharisees would probably argue the accuracy of this statement but the truth is that everything Jesus did He did with the leading of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory.
He honored God’s invitation to draw near to Him every Sabbath. And not just every Sabbath but every day. They spent time in deep conversation. He gave God his full attention.
This intimacy was also replicated in Christ’s relationship with His disciples sharing His heart, teachings, and “the mysteries of the gospel” and things to come with them. They slept together, ate together, lived together, and traveled together. And it’s not so much how much time they spent together, but how they spent their time. Their time together was intentional, purposed, and treasured!
We would be wise to follow their example.
Jesus and Physical Touch
I want to challenge you to make this connection with me. When you think of physical touch as a love language, what comes to mind? For a lot of people it’s sex. Massages. Kisses. Hand holding. Those things are well and good, but let’s dig a little deeper. Take a look at John 15:13 (NKJV),
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend.”
Didn’t Jesus do this EXACT thing for us when He obediently went to the cross? No resistance, no complaints; simply love, humility, and sacrifice. And it opened the door for us to receive the GREATEST gift.
Jesus and Gifts
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV)
This gift needs no further explanation BUT I’ll give it anyway. It is the most valuable gift we could receive; eternity in heaven. For many reason but the one that stands out to me is we are so undeserving of it. Eternal life with God?! How do you even package that?
All I can say is, He is the giver of the greatest gifts.
The 5 Love Languages; Biblical? Or Feel Good Teaching?
God is the Creator of all things good and he teaches us how to love well by example through out the entire Bible. The methods He used and taught mirror the exact principles of The 5 Love Languages.
There’s one thing that Jesus got right that we are still catching up to and that’s the idea of loving unconditionally without reward or return. See God’s love for us is so bold that He sent us the gift of his son knowing that many of us would reject it.
Many of us pick up the 5 Love Languages books and tools thinking, “If I get this right for my spouse, maybe he’ll finally start loving me the way I want. Maybe he’ll finally start treating me better.” We are already anticipating a return on our actions. Truth be told, sometimes that doesn’t happen.
The heart of The 5 Love Languages is to teach those who use it how to love without condition; how to love like God loved. It’s about focusing on GIVING even when we receive nothing in return. If you want to learn to love like Jesus loves, you can look to the 5 Languages and find Jesus at the heart of it.
DISCLAIMER: If you are in an abusive marriage or relationship, please note that the 5 Love Languages may not be the tool to turn to for help or healing. If you find yourself in need of help please reach out to your local church, community shelter, or trusted friend to help point you towards the help and resources you need.
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