Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Q&A - Love languages

I received an email question from a friend. Each week this guy takes part in a men's discipleship group. Recently a new guy has been coming and has been talking about something called 'words of affirmation' and how that has improved his relationship with his son. The question in the email was, is this a word of faith doctrine? is it false? what is it!? The questioner was also curious as to whether or not he was being too critical of the man's statement.

Well without knowing the guy or the context the only time I've heard about words of affirmation was when I was reading Gary Chapman's 'The Five Love Languages' book. So assuming that this was what this man meant by it, that's how I answered the question. Enjoy???
Well I don't know of any WoF doctrine called words of affirmation. It actually sounds like he's been reading a book called 'The Five Love Languages of Teens' by Gary Chapman. Chapman wrote this as a follow up to his best selling book 'The Five Love Languages'. The latter was more geared for adult relationships. The former was bent towards improving your relationship with teens.

It is a Christian book more or less. Basically Chapman says that there are five love languages and we all speak them. We do though have an order in which we speak them. The five languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch. In the book he first has you take an assessment to see what your primary language is that you speak and which one is the primary one you receive.

For example, some people are really good at discerning when someone needs to hear an encouraging word. Now, granted we are all called to do it, but some folks are just way more perceptive at picking up when someone needs to hear it and they speak those words well. (The best way of course is if they are scriptural words of encouragement). For those folks, words of affirmation are probably their primary 'language'. But that same person may best receive love in their life by the quality time they get to spend with their loved ones.

Basically the 5 languages are the ways we want our loved ones to show love to us. In other words, some people receive the language words of affirmation. Meaning that to feel loved they need to hear that people love them.

He points out that we speak the language we want to receive but our kids, for example, may be wired to receive a different 'language' than we speak. So because we love them we need to be aware of that need in them and make attempts to speak that language to them. So not a big problem with it per se.

So what do I think of the whole deal? Well it can help improve a relationship. It can help parents better communicate with their children and husbands with their wives. However, if the whole thing isn't being done so that the Gospel can be better communicated and Christ can be better Glorified by our words and actions, so that we are better living out what God calls us to be as Christians, then it is all for naught.

It's been a while since I read the books so I don't recall how Christ centered it was, BUT, I don't remember anything that just made my blood boil either. As with anything, tools like that book can be very helpful. But if they are used in place of Scripture or they are used as a means to an end instead of a clearer focus on Scripture and Christ-glorification, then they are a waste of time.

Are you being too critical? Depends. ha... If this guy is relying on this rather than Scripture, then no, you are dead on. If he attributes the relationship fix to this and not to God using the 'love languages' as a tool, then no, you are dead on. But if he acknowledges that ultimately God is working in their relationship and that the love languages thing is just a tool that has helped them to identify more of how God has fearfully and wonderfully made them, then give him some slack. Just listen to him with a discerning ear (Acts 17:11). And when, or if, you hear something that is errant get him to explain further and if it is in fact errant, then reprove him with gentleness and love but full of truth.

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