From the fragments of profound thoughts I have whirling, this should be a deep, nuanced and crisply literary post. Unfortunately, but I haven't the time to craft such a post just now. It's being that kind of a
In that more pithy and developed post, I would start with a clever, amusing story about some time when the misunderstanding of a single basic word led to disaster. And then I'd segue masterfully into my subject, which is: LOVE.
You don't need me to tell you that "love" is an important word, both in our culture and in the Bible. The problem is that English Bibles and American English speakers use that same word, "love," but with very different cargoes. In the immortal words of Iniego Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
I used to take my young 'uns to a local bookstore, where a talented young man would entertain the kids with a story and some fun every Saturday morning. He was, I think, a teacher in a state indoctrination center. One Saturday, he wore a shirt with this on it: "Love is what separates us from the Republicans." What did he mean by that? I think I know.
I can't speak for other cultures, but in America, "loving" people don't judge and they don't ever say "no"... which is to say that don't say that certain things are wrong, or shouldn't be done.
It necessarily leads to quite a tangle.
"Loving" people are against murder (except of the unborn), sexual violence (unless consensual), theft (unless warranted), tyranny (unless by their political party), oppression (unless of the views they oppose), and wealth (unless possessed by themselves or their celebrities). "Loving" people disapprove of people who disapprove of people. Well, certain people. Disapproval of homosexual behavior, for instance, is wrong because it is hateful; disapproval of disapproval of homosexual behavior is right because it is loving.
Now, I am skating atop depths right here which I'd like to develop, and to which I must return some time. But this American stance rests on so many illusions as to leave one reeling. For instance, I think of the uproar and outrage that the mainstream American media is trying to gin up against one particular presidential candidate, simply because of her and her husband's involvement in a clinic that allegedly tried to help homosexual people find freedom from their mangling and destructive passions.
As one reads the media, one becomes aware that the mere voicing of the accusation itself is damning enough, to them. I heard just newsreaders on the television Wednesday morning say that the couple were "accused of trying to help 'gay' people become 'straight.'" You see? That is an accusation. It is a bad thing to do. The subtext: because it is unloving, as defined above.
I doubt those reporters would speak of any therapist as being "accused of trying to help rapists control their impulses," or "accused of trying to help depressed people find joy," or "accused of trying to help drug addicts beat their addiction." Not yet, anyway.
It is a reflection of the world's view of itself, which is framed in an all-encompassing matrix of deception (Jer. 17:9). The world is our great-great-grandparents' real firstborn. The world is the invisible bastard child born to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, long before Cain uttered his first cry. The world was begotten by the embrace of the foundational lie "You shall be as gods." This became the central motto. Anything, then, that affirms my godhood (over against God's godhood) is good and loving. Anything that challenges that view is bad and hateful.
It can't surprise us that God's view of love is very different. While the world's view rests on sheer and unbridled autonomy, God's rests on the truth of His Lordship. Love is at the center of both ethical systems: in the world, the autonomous self is the center. In reality, God Himself is the center. The two could not be more polar opposites or more mutually exclusive. The ramifications are countless.
Therefore, in American culture if not in others, "love" has come to mean "unconditional approval of what the world accepts."
By contrast, in the Bible "love" means something like commitment to pursue God's glory and others' good, as defined by God. That definition needs work, but I think it's a good start.
So it is that the real world, as created and ruled by God, is structured with love for God as primary, and love for fellow-man as derivative and secondary (Matt. 22:37-40). The fantasy-world, ruled over by the prince of lies, finds this ethical system offensive and repugnant... and immoral. Ironic, no?
a post like this, from nearly four years ago, caused such offense and outrage in some quarters. Actually putting God first, where theory becomes practice and affects real attitudes and real choices and real actions, is a horrible thing to the world. This is what offends the world about candidates such as the one I mentioned above: saying you are a Christian is a pardonable offense. But actually living it? Actually doing something about it? Unforgivable.
You see, the thought that anything or anyone (even God; particularly God) could take precedence over our (or anyone's) yearnings and passions and dreams... terrible! Terrible!
Ah, but that is where we have the eternal parting of the ways. If God is not God, then indeed it is a monstrous, hateful thing to try to deny anyone his desires; and chaos necessarily results.
But if God is God? If Jesus is true? Then what could be more loving than to turn someone (anyone) from damning, destructive ways to the saving and liberating knowledge of the true and living God?
"Love wins," indeed.
Defined God's way.