Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love is not love

My Facebook feed had blown up recently over the SCOTUS decision. I've seen arguments, horror, jubilation. But the overwhelming train of thought I've seen is the sentiment that love is always good, love is always right, we should not stand in the way of love.

I get it, it's a nice thought, it FEELS good. It's a bunch of bull honkey.

Love is not love. The Greeks had six different words for love and an expanding of one of them to two separate meanings. You can read about them here.

For followers of Christ you are called to practise and live Agape as such in given situations Philia and Pragma will develop.

Agape love, is a selfless love, the best definition I have ever seen for it is seeking the highest good for those to whom directed. Agape love is not the exclusive realm of Christians, however Christians who are committed to the real and living God and follow his commands this love will be strongly evident. A definition that makes this clearer for Christians would be: always seeking the highest good for God, others, and myself. And in that order.

So what is the highest good? Is it just something each of us decides for himself? Or is there a guideline of concrete absolutes to base it on.

First to dispel the notion that it is an individual ideal. Man is an inherently selfish individual. Left to his (or her) own devises and without outside influence every action and desire will be to let the self survive and if possible to do so in comfort. However as humans interact with other humans things begin to change. People begin to go out of their comfort zone to improve other people's lives. Often this is still done for selfish reasons. Such as winning someone's affection for the purpose of sex and procreation to extend ones own legacy our pleasure. Their are glaring exceptions to this (remember I am only talking base instinct here) such as motherhood.

A mother if left to her own devices (take the animal kingdom for example) will absolutely give up her life to protect her offspring. In humans this instinctual behavior can often be overruled, and there are even exceptions in the animal kingdom but the fact remains the behavior is common place.

All this to say though that for the most part as humans we are shown how to survive, we are doted on as babies and as children we learn that our needs are important. Apart from a concrete guideline we learn that our needs are the most important, that our individual needs are always right. The idea of "if it feels good/right it must be right" is rampant.

In this type of environment emotion becomes the guiding factor. Emotion is a fickle beast. That is not to say emotion is bad. Emotion can and are very good things, they allow people to empathize with others, they reward some behaviours and punish others. They increase human experience and make things possible. They are also inherently deceptive. Think of something falling in a closet at night in the dark when you are alone. You jump your emotions begin to lie to you "something is there." they say, "you are not safe." You have two choices at this point listen to them out fight against and overrule them. Emotions can control you they do not have too. But if we base out guidelines on things that make is feel good or feel right, what happens when that changes? 

So say you like punching people in the face, it FEELS good to punch then in the face. It makes you happy, you feel fulfilled as an individual. "This is right" you day to yourself. And then one day you punch the wrong person in the face. "This is wrong, this doesn't feel good, I don't like this, I an not fulfilled" you day to yourself as you get the every loving daylights beat out of you. The same behavior that had fulfilled you is now your least favorite thing in the world. If you continue this behavior later you will always wonder if what you are doing well being on the bad consequences and the behavior will not be as rewarding.  Emotions are a bad guideline for the highest good.

So we will base it on laws of the government. Laws tell us what to do and what not to do. They tell us it is wrong to murder right? Well they do.... Unless they don't. Governments can do whatever they want unless restrained by the governed. Imperial Japan, pre ww2 Germany, the Soviet Union all had laws that said murder wasn't always wrong. Laws change. As the government grows in power it behind to serve its own interest more than the interest of the governed. So if you base the highest good on government law what do you do when it changes. Most likely you will go along with it just add many many in history have turned a silent eye to atrocities committed by their own government.

To the Christians you fall most often into these two categories above as well. Yet we have a concrete bases that can be used, but we twist it, we try to make it fit the above. Yes I'm talking about the Word of God. We like to provide lip service to the good and easy parts. We love the "God is love part (in John 4)" but the bible is very clear what it means by love. It's not a lip service to love. It says "No one has greater love than this--that one lays down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)" that's Agape love, self sacrificial love. Love that recognizes life has value and that you are in a position to protect that value even if it means dying.

The Bible lays out in detail how to live a Christian life. It provides a set of guidelines for what the highest good is. A concrete set of guidelines. It says in Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" So what is the highest good? To define that we have to define what the bible is.

The bible is a book about the love of God. It chronicles the creation of man, the fall of man due to sin, the war against sin, and the restoration of man back to him. I'm not going into detail here but it lists what sin is and the overall theme is sin is placing yourself first. Sin is almost completely synonymous with selfishness. In fact despite the fact that hate is often portrayed as the opposite of love the bible shows that selfishness not hate is the opposite of love. So as such we can see that it is in selfishness's own interest to redefine the argument.

Christians WE ARE LETTING SIN DEFINE THE PARAMETERS OF OUT ARGUMENT! For example: say I have a friend. Now this friend of mine discovers something about himself. He discovers he likes to jump down. One day he is standing on a curb and he jumps off. "Wow" he says "that felt awesome! I feel fulfilled." The next day he climbs a concrete barrier and jumps down. "That was even better! I feel completed" he says. The next day he climbs to a low roof and jumps down about ten feet. "I feel so alive!" He shouts. He goes on and on to you about how this is who he is and how nothing can change him. So I being the level-headed guy I am tell him "be careful you could get hurt".
"Oh you just don't understand" he says "this is right, it makes me feel good. It can't be wrong I was born this way" he says. "No really" I say "you could really get hurt I don't want to see that happen."
The next day he climbs a 20 foot roof jumps down and says "ouch that hurt, but oh man I feel alive" he strained his ankle. This continues I warn him I try to stop him by breaking his ladder "you hate me!" He yells. What do I do at this point do I back-peddle and be like "No no I don't hate you, I love you, you should do what you love." Except in this case his love is misplaced, it's not love as defined by agape. It's an uncontrolled lust for adrenaline and risk.  One day he tells me he is going to climb to the top of a 300 foot overpass and jump off. "No don't do that" I plead earnestly. "Stop hating on me." He says "I need to do this to be who I am. If you love be you'll let me live my own life." And so not wanting to be labeled a hate-monger. I let him go. He dies of course. Yes it's absurd no one on their right mind would do that.

Except as Christians WE do that every day rather than letting the bible stand on it's own we twist it to make us feel good about others contrary behavior. We've redefined love and twisted it to conform to societies ideals. We stand by and do nothing as people jump off that overpass into hell. Because well after all, love. Except love isn't love.

Too those that aren't professed followers of Christ. This blog may make you mad, it may speak to you. It's not directed at you. But know this whoever you are, whatever you have done. You are loved. I'm still learning this but you are important to God and so you are important to me. I may not agree with your decisions, but I don't want to sit idly by and watch you jump off that bridge. Ultimately it is your decision. I can tell you this the road through life with Christ is not easy, it requires sacrifice maybe even unto death. But the rewards are eternal.

Too the professed Christians solidify your belief, know why you believe it, and get it from the bible not from the world.

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