Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages has sold over 13 million copies over the past thirty years, making it one of the most popular Christianized self-help books ever. But how biblical is its message? How consistent is its counsel with the message of the cross and Jesus’s call to self-denial?
Over the years, I’ve counseled and interacted with people who had adopted the love languages as their relationship paradigm. Some found Chapman’s system helpful in understanding others, provided they knew how to discern; that is, how to eat the chicken and leave the bones. In some cases, however, the relational results have been disastrous, as the psychological system served to feed fleshly idols and demands rather than growth in the sacrificial, Christlike love that flows from a proper understanding of the gospel.
Whether you think the love language system is the best thing since sliced bread, or yellow flags popped in your mind as you read it, you will find these four gracious critiques helpful and, I hope, motivated to love and esteem others as Christ loved you.
A Kind Critique of the Five Love Languages – In this 15-minute podcast, Dale Johnson interviews Jim Newheiser,
Love Speaks Many Languages Fluently – David Powlison’s article from 2002 is still, in my opinion, the most insightful critique I’ve read.
Five Lust Languages? – A shorter read, Justin Taylor briefly summarizes Powlison’s article.
The Problem with Love Languages – This 3-minute video from Tim Challies is a simple, insightful critique that includes suggested ways to redeem this flawed system.