Dopamine made her do it

My husband is a pastor. I am a nurse. Every week I prepare a health spot in our churches’ bulletins. This week, in sync with Valentine’s Day, I did a spot on the physiological basis of infatuation, the chemistry of first love. Doctors have mapped the chemical changes that occur and discovered the frontal cortex of the brain shuts down during the heady days of courtship. MRI scans show this de-activation causes us to suspend all criticism or doubt. Dopamine floods the brain. Dopamine is key to our experiences of pleasure and pain. Linked to desire, addiction, and euphoria, a surge may cause such acute feelings of reward that it makes love hard to give up. Surging dopamine has the same effect on the body as cocaine. Another side effect of rising dopamine levels is a reduction in another chemical, serotonin, a key hormone in our moods and appetite. Lack of serotonin makes us feel anxious and jittery.

The love chemical we are most familiar with, however, is adrenaline. This hormone is why our heart races, palms sweat and mouth goes dry when we see the person we like. The same hormone is also released when we are frightened. This means that two people only vaguely attracted to one another can fall madly in love if they go through an exciting or scary experience together. It may also explain the lure of forbidden love.

Next week my husband is going to preach on Luke 7:36-50. It is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible. In fact, these verses record such an outlandish display of love for the Lord Jesus that there have been whole stories concocted about the relationship between this young woman and Jesus. One popular novel by Dan Brown “The Da Vinci Code” hints that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married and she, being pregnant, carried the royal seed to France. (

The following is a clip of the supposed French descendent of Jesus who has been just rescued from being murdered by those who believe her presence will destroy the church.

Evangelist Fred Grewe, whom I greatly appreciate, has said that this passage is his favorite in all the Bible. He remarked in a sermon I heard him preach 2/28/1999 on Luke 7:36-50 that he wanted to love Jesus like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair did. She was totally smitten with Him. She didn’t care who saw her or what they thought, she was going right into the publican’s house and do what she wanted to do. She, with complete and utter abandon, poured out her most expensive perfume on the Savior’s feet, washed them with it and then dried His feet with her hair. Crazy, compulsive, contrite, complete was her love for the Master. Perhaps it was a bit chemical, too, but we are encased in chemicals. I can relate.

Walking with Him this Monday,




5 comments on “Dopamine made her do it

  1. Dawn, you always post such thoughtful stuff — stuff that makes me stop and ponder and think a little deeper for a while. Thank you for that! Isn’t it amazing what love does to the brain and how it does effect our behavior, our thoughts, etc. And I wonder if I do love the Lord in the way that Mary did — a love that just ignores all reason or social behavioral rules and just let it pour out, recklessly and beautifully as she did. It would be an amazing world if we were ALL like that. I have that song going through my heart right now — “broken and poured out, for the love of you, Jesus!” My thoughts just go to, Oh for grace to love you more!!!!!

    • Dear Super Encourager Cora,

      I received a homemade video on Facebook through an old friend of mine. It was of a young woman who had just survived a life-changing series of events on her way home from work on I-95 just this past Thursday. Her name is Lauralee Patrika. She recorded her video right after the “near miss” going 80 miles per hour on the interstate. She said she wanted to do it right after the occurrence so that it would be real. What she says is serious. Now there is a woman who loves Jesus. It’s what I’m talking about when I talk about Mary Magdalene. If you haven’t seen it, Cora, please go to my Facebook page and scroll down just a little. You can view it there.

      While I have you, I sent Andrea Dawn a birthday card made with some of your homemade paper. She can say she had 2 cyber-friends visit her on her birthday!

      Take great care,

  2. I love how Mary loves Jesus and does not worry what the world says as she pours out her life for Him….It is the same love Stephen had for Him as he is being stoned… to completely trust, fully yeild to, absolutely honour… like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon.They replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

    To remain faithful no matter… to trust Him no matter… to give our all … no matter…
    I can feel my hormones change as I praise God or as I choose to cast away a negative thought and replace it with one of praise and joy for my Saviour… There is a lot of power and freedom wrapped up in this package called “child of the King” ! We are so blessed… absolutely ‘crazy’ blessed.

    I truly don’t think Jesus married and had children… somehow I don’t think it would have been so well hidden. This love is agape love… a higher high there can never be….
    ( I wasn’t able to see the video in our Country) too sad!

    • Dear Susan,

      I don’t believe Jesus married, either, but as non-believers come to the Jesus and Mary story, they simply have nowhere else to go, but romantic love. They don’t know agape. It’s interesting to see the thoughts outside the “family” a la Jesus Christ Super Star type descriptions. Thanks for the Praise reply here!

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