What’s love? Seriously, what is it? Have you ever given that any serious thought? Maybe you have, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess most of us haven’t sat down and tried to define Love. Today we just make assertions based on the assumption that we all have the same definitions, especially when it comes to love. Today it’s obvious that we believe love is the greatest ethos. What the world needs now is love sweet love, right? All we need is love, love is all we need. We want that can’t sleep love, you guys know what I’m talking about, that kind we dream about all day, the kind that keeps us up all night. Love, love, love I want your love. Those three words, their said too muuUUuuch, and not enooooOOUUuughhh. That’s fun, I could literally spend the rest of my day quoting love songs but you get it, we love “Love”. I’m not saying that’s wrong or silly or foolish, I’d even agree that Love is in fact the greatest ethos, but my understanding of love might be much different than yours. Today we talk about falling in love with someone and falling out of love with someone as if it’s a cosmic force that comes on us and leaves without warning. We’ve cheapened love by using it to describe our affections for tacos and dogs and clothes. And we’ve taken away it’s foundation with statements like “Love is Love”.
When we make blanket statements like that we are saying that love just is a brute fact and everyone should know it. “Love just is! You know it when you see it! It’s just there, it is what it is and who are you to try and define it?!” I Get that, I really do, no one likes to be judged or misrepresented, that’s not my goal here. I’m just trying to get you to think about what love really is and does your view of the world make love intelligible? Are you justified in saying you love someone or something, can you even use that word with any meaning at all? It sounds noble to say you can’t define love, but really that’s kind of nonsensical. How do we know what it is if it has no definition? How can we speak of love in any meaningful fashion if it just “is what it is”?
I’d say we need to understand that there are in fact different types of love. WHAT?! Love is love Park!!! Ok ok relax, just think with me here. A man loves his mother, his wife, his daughter and his dog. One of them gave birth to him and raised him, he has a special love for this one as he has known her his whole life and came from her. Another is his other half and knows him better than anyone else, they have a romantic love. Another is his offspring and she came from him, he has a nurturing and protective love for this one. And lastly one of them is a hairy animal that he takes care of and loves but eventually will take to the vet and euthanize. There are distinctions in all these different forms of love, to mix the feelings and actions associated with the different types of love is wrong and in many cases criminal. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different ways we love people and things but you get what I’m saying, we don’t have romantic relationships with our dog or our mom and we go to jail for euthanizing our wife. Love needs some sort of standard to ground it, some kind of authority to define it. But we’ve done away with our standard and planted our feet firmly in mid air.
The Bible gives us definitions of brotherly love, parent-child love, love between God and man, between God and Himself, marital love and even animal and master love but we don’t want those. “Don’t impose your morality on me Park, don’t you know we’re postmodern now?”. In so called postmodernity we still hold to a modern view of science but we say the sexual morality slate has been wiped clean and “Love is Love” can suffice as a definition, except between teachers and underage students, parents and kids, and pets and their owners, for now. In actuality those two views contradict one another. A modern view of science would tell you that we are nothing but matter in motion, a cosmic accident, star dust. We have no purpose here, we are ultimately determined by random chance acting on matter which gave rise to our instincts which merely help us propagate our DNA. This view would have us believe that love is a chemical process in the brain, not a thought in the mind because we don’t have one of those and not a feeling of the heart because that’s simply an organ, and the sensations and emotions we get from what we call love are really programmed survival cues. In short love is illusory. While the postmodern view of sexual morality would have us believe that the morality slate has been wiped clean and anything goes. What has really happened is a replacement of an old slate with a new one. The new morality mandates total submission and the most immoral thing you could do is not comply with the new morality. Love is love and to define it is wicked.
I don’t mean to be insensitive or cruel. I’m not condemning anyone. All I’m saying is we as a people are confused about love. When you cut the ribbon on the balloon it floats away, I’m afraid we’ve done that with the concept Love. We’ve turned it into this weird kind of mythical cosmic impersonal happening. It floods our life when it’s tides are up and leaves without warning as the tides go out. We mostly use it for describing romantic relationships, but that gets confusing when we us it in blanket statements like “believe in love” or “love is love”. So when we’re in social situations and relationships love is very real, and intense, even unstoppable yet when we go to the classroom it’s just a survival instinct resulting from brain chemistry.
I think love needs to be rescued. We need a better understanding of the word love so we can once again have meaningful discussions about it. But who am I to stand on my high horse and elevate my definition of love above everyone else’s? That would be arrogant, agreed. I’m a great sinner, I have been absolutely morally reprehensible, I do not love people as I should and I am not an all wise arbiter of Love’s will. I believe that God is love and He’s sent his arbiter already so instead of coming up with a definition of love on my own I’ll defer to God’s.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
In the Christian Worldview the definition of love is grounded in God Himself, He is love. When we experience His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace, we are freed to love others as ourselves. When we love God first and foremost we can then turn and love our neighbor, our spouse, our pets, our children, our parents and our friends the way we should out of the abundance of the love we’ve received. If they spit in our face that’s alright because we didn’t love them based solely on their actions but rather we loved them because God loved us and told us to pass it on. Maybe you’re not completely sold yet but I’d like to lovingly challenge you to consider your view of the world, your view of God and reality and ask yourself if your worldview can account for love. Trying to come up with a definition of love by yourself might be harder than you think. Just some food for thought.