Previously in the #LoveWins series we let Paul give a modified sermon from what he gave in Acts 17. If the sermon is correct, then we are falsely worshiping the idol of love without boundaries. The longing for this love points only ultimately to God but we can never reach that longing without God. Like any idol it cannot be sustained as a worldview and there are issues with it.
In this part we will try to define love, since that is something which needs to be made clear, now more than ever. Allegedly according to Google, the most searched question on the internet is the question “What is love?” Now it may be the case that people are looking for the Saturday Night Live skit with Jim Carey or that famous song it is set to but I highly doubt that is the case. People really want to know what love is!
The Bible gives the attributes of Love in the famous passage in I Corinthians 13 and also states that love is more important and will even out last other spiritual gifts like prophecy. The Bible even says that God is Love (1 John 4:7-8). So if one of the great spiritual texts in the world says love is vastly indispensable, critical, and an attribute of the divine we should look into it.
C.S. Lewis writes in The Four Loves about the different types of love; while that (among others) is a great resource, we will be taking a different approach. Now if there are some false views and substitutes of love they will need to be torn down if we are to understand love. Let us lay down some foundations in this part:
1. Love is not lust. The mere craving for something or someone is not the ideal for which the word love ever could be ascribed. Lust is selfish while love is selfless. Every major religion including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism have called lust a horrible vice (with some exceptions in ancient paganism in Greece and Rome). If the apparent unification of the major religions does not convince you, here is an important concept: ‘Is’ is not ‘ought’. Just because we have a craving for something (even if we were born that way) does not mean that should be acted upon. An extreme example is this: the rapist acting on his desires commits a crime that is abhorrent and that in no shape or form can be called love. This just seems self-evident.
2. Love is more than just the physical. We all have seen or know the progression that a couple goes through as they hold hands, kiss, and get more physical (of course there are boundaries in this progression). If however one loves the physical act and not the person, they are using that person. Using a person can never be love. This also seems self-evident.
If love was only physical then people who are paralyzed could not love or could only give a percentage of love compared to non-paralyzed people. That is just absurd. We ought to love people more than things or acts because, according to the Bible, we are created in the image of God. This difference is important because equal things should be treated equally and unequal things should be treated unequally. For example, if my house was burning down and I could choose to save my family or what was in the garbage can I would be a fool (and possibly be rightfully judged) for running out trash can in hand choosing not to save my family. Even if my family was not in peril and I had to choose between a stranger and garbage I would still be a fool to choose trash and not to save the person. This is because, to a Christian, every person is created equal in value and the unborn have this same equal value no matter what videos are restrained or what horrors are done to them. However, the recent decision by the Supreme Court dealing with marriage may tear down what personhood legally means by changing what roots our identity from being created in the objective image of God to subjective orientation.
3. Love is more than just the emotional. Have you even seen those rare couples that celebrated their 50th or 60th anniversary? They are a treasure that I wish we could save for all time. I will grant you that their love for each other was tested through the years and was not felt at all times. Even I who have only been married a few years have had times where I don’t feel like showing love or feel loved. Does that mean that the love is gone? Of course not. If love was just mere emotions then all deep relationships would be as fleeting as a snowfall in summer. This is well documented in the ‘honeymoon is over phase’. If love only focused on the emotions felt or experienced, then the relationship would be only one of emotional lust.
Next time in part 3 we will give more clarification on what love is and is not. In part 4, we will bring everything together to see what this all means.