What’s Love Got to do with It?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve more than likely been on the receiving end of a barrage of posts either condemning or glorifying the decision of the Supreme Court to redefine marriage. Facebook mini-feeds were full of statuses and shared news stories either lauding the decision or predicting that it would cause the fall of Western civilization as we know it.
What continues to amaze me is the fluidity of words in the debate, the word “love” being a stellar example. Repeatedly those who disagree with the ruling are encouraged to demonstrate “love” for those with whom they disagree. That’s a strange request for a few reasons. First, it assumes that the initial disagreement simply could not come from a place of love. Disagreement with homosexuality or homosexual “marriage” simply cannot be loving given the way the discussion has been framed.
Second, no comprehensive definition of love has been given. How do we know “love won” if we cannot even agree on what “love” is? I’ve even read several Christians chastise the unfortunate members of their camp for their failure to live up to their standard of loving conduct. That reaction is what surprised me most. These believers seem to operate on the assumption that love can be compartmentalized, separated as it were from the rest of one’s worldview. The operative assumption is simply that love and doctrine, or love and the intellect, ought to be separated and remain separate at all cost. But this methodology falls flat.
Love has content. Love is informed by an ethical standard outside of itself. Love is not some untamed energy that exists independently of all thought. The exhortation to love our homosexual neighbors is meant to cut us off, as it were, from making any sort of moral pronouncement on their behavior. The assumption is that the truly loving thing to do is to ignore their sin as Jesus ignored our sin. The only problem is, Jesus didn’t ignore our sin. He didn’t turn a blind eye to our spiritual treason. The Incarnation was not simply a magic trick performed by God to display what He was capable of for His creatures. The Incarnation was made necessary by sin, the very sin that we’re told we must ignore if we’re to truly love our neighbor. But what we see in Scripture is love confronting sin, namely, in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ confrontation with sin was violent, desolate, and humiliating. He was crucified between two thieves, mocked by the crowds, forsaken by His own people including His closest friends, condemned by the governing authorities, pierced with nails, and hung on a cross until He expired. And that’s not even the worst part. Jesus experienced the sum total weight of the sins of His people, all eternity worth, the weight of which forced out the cry “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This text cause Martin Luther to famously muse (after a full day of contemplation), “God forsaken of God, who can understand it?”
Our love for our homosexual neighbors must be grounded in this truth: Jesus died for sinners. That simple statement teaches us a few things, namely, that Jesus’ love involved His free decision to become man. It involved action. His love was not a cheap platitude, or a Thomas Kincaid painting. Jesus’ love did not lead Him to wink at sin, or insist on getting to know the sinner first before He condemned their behavior. Jesus knew nothing of this dichotomy between love and truth. Instead, He said things so unflattering that 5,000 people left Him in one day (John 6:1-44).
If love is to be anything other than a nebulous concept, it must be grounded in something objective. A love that is still present even when affections have grown cold. A love that speaks truth gently, but speaks truth nonetheless. It involves saying hard things, and then bearing the reproach that follows. That is the type of love displayed by Christ that led to the cross.
Love is not pretending that nothing is wrong.
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This is a blog for challenging assumptions, building faith, and developing a stronger community. The two channels of this blog – Faith and Narrative – push us to know ourselves and the world around us more intimately. Want to learn more about us?