The Bible’s Best Love Stories by Allan F. Wright (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2010)
When it comes to love stories, I’d be willing to bet that the first thing that comes to mind is not the Bible but romantic movies or novels. Perhaps you might think of couples you knows whose love stands out in the crowd. Yet, God is the author of love, and the Bible, as the Word of God, is a wonderful place to look for examples of love and role models for our own relationships.
In The Bible’s Best Love Stories, Allan F. Wright examines some of the very human love stories contained in the pages of scripture. These stories do not show an idealistic portrayal of love. Rather they show the full range of deep emotions and all the challenges along the way. Wright does not only study the portrayal of romantic relationships, but also the love of good friends and familial relationships.
Wright begins his examination, as one might expect, with the relationship between Adam and Eve, “the world’s first lovers.” Before the first sin, they had the beauty of the ideal relationship; it was a union of the whole person – body and soul. They loved each other as God loved them. But then, they thought they knew better than God and sin came into the world. Their relationship, which had been so perfect, now was one of shame and blame. Things would never be the same for them, or us, again. We will come up short, yet we are all still called to strive for that original self-giving love that existed before sin.
Wright then turns his attention to other famous pairs of the Old Testament: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Abigail and David, Tobiah and Sarah, and the unnamed lovers in the Song of Solomon. He also explores the familial love of Joseph and his brothers and Ruth and Naomi and the bonds of friendship that existed between David and Jonathan.
The New Testament features fewer romantic relationships, but Wright looks at Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and Priscilla and Aquila. Some of Jesus’ friendships are highlighted, such as those with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as his bond with Peter. His relationship with the “sinful woman” is also examined. The relationship between Saint Paul and Barnabas, and that which existed among Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John are also looked at. While some of these stories are relatively familiar, Wright looks at them with fresh eyes, pointing out things we may have missed in the relationships and holding up certain aspects for special attention.
The Bible illustrates all the different types of love. It shows that loving anyone will require commitment and sacrifice. There is no such thing as an easy love, although some days will certainly be easier than others. Love will sometimes need to be waited for, but trust in God is paramount.
Wright has done a beautiful job portraying these stories with understanding and wisdom. For each story, he offers a prayer, a relevant quote, reflection questions, and an idea for putting love into action in one’s own life. These additions help make this book ideal for a Bible study or for private reflection.