The Seven Laws Of Love: Essential Principles For Building Stronger Relationships, by Dave Willis
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
I happen to read a fair amount of books about relationships , and although this book certainly goes down easily and makes for a very easy read of just over 200 pages, with some very smooth prose, there is something about this book that is likely to stick as well, and that is a good thing as that is exactly what the author desires. This book manages to deliver an effective blend of reasonably sound biblical exegesis about godly love and some personal commentary of the awkward and self-effacing, which seems to be quite a trend with a lot of the books I read about pastors who are trying to speak about matters of practical Christianity while simultaneously reducing the social distance between their office and ministers and their self-awareness of the universality of human foibles and weaknesses. The resulting blend makes for a read that is practical and also personal, one that gives encouragement while also pointing to the high and difficult standard of God’s love for us to follow in our lives.
In terms of its contents and structure, this book is resolutely straightforward, and there is a lot to be said for that. The author begins the book by introducing his subject, giving a great definition of love: “Love is an unconditional commitment to selflessly serve, truthfully communicate, fearlessly protect, gracefully forgive, compassionately heal, and enduringly remain in relationship with and for the sake of another (xxvii).” The first half of the book consists of seven chapters that give the author’s seven laws of love: love requires commitment, love selflessly sacrifices, love speaks truth, love conquers fear, love offers grace, love brings healing, and love lives forever. If one wants to be extremely technical about it, these are properties of genuine agape love, and not strictly laws. The second half of the book discusses ways of applying love in action to one’s spouse, children, neighbor, friends, enemies, oneself, and one’s Creator. The book does not shy away from difficult aspects of love, or the barriers to loving ourselves and others, and it is perhaps a bit striking that it puts loving God last when loving God well is what frees us to love others well also. These are minor quibbles, though, in terms of the book’s structure. The afterword encourages the reader to apply love as broadly as possible and not to merely let this book remain forgotten on the shelf with a lack of application of its principles.
There are a few aspects of this book that are less than ideal for a reader like myself. For one, the author assumes that his audience is married and has children, neither of which are the case for me. Additionally, where the author does manage to discuss areas of personal relevance, they happen to be in awkward ways, such as when the author discusses the damaging effects of childhood abuse on trust and intimacy, or when the author hits upon a particularly awkward way of describing boundary problems in stunningly appropriate ways, such as the following comparison: “My friend Tommy shared an insight that illustrates this whole idea of boundaries with more clarity. He told me that the Mississippi River and the Florida Everglades have approximately the same amount of water flowing through them, but they look drastically different. The Mississippi River provides transport to people and cargo and also enriches the soil on all sides of it, making the Mississippi Delta some of the most fertile soil anyway. The Everglades, by contrast, is a treacherous place. The swampy topography makes any travel or farming almost impossible. It’s also a place where you’re fairly likely to encounter some unwelcoming alligators (xxv).” This is a book that is written to be encouraging and practical, but it also manages to hit some sensitive spots.
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