The idea of love truly seems to infect everything it touches. In the name of love, sexual revolution is both heralded, and denounced. In the name of love children are aborted and children are saved. In the name of love, policies are given, and policies changed, marriages are created and unfaithfulness is justified. How can love that leads to such vastly different conclusions truly be love? Can love truly take the strain of responsibility that we have placed on it, or has the word been mutilated and then stitched back together and reappeared as a verbetically mutated virus?
How can love lead to different conclusions? At first glance it can seem that love has many different meanings depending on the person. Whereas it is easy to conclude this, the problem of love is that love is at the core of all of mankind’s worst atrocities (war, rape, oppression, unfaithfulness, etc.) All of mankind’s bloody history is a tribute to the wrong kind of love, the love of man.
The problem with mankind is not that he does not have love, but that he loves the wrong thing, himself.
Since man loves himself, he then judges his actions on what he loves. This foundational starting point is why mankind is so wicked. This is not the say that we all act out in unrestrained, symmetrical wickedness but rather our actions will filter through our preferences and we will show our self-love in preferential ways.
As an example, a serial killer loves himself and so acts in a way that produces the thrill that he enjoys. His wrong action is motivated by love for himself. Self-love may be harder to spot in this next illustration but it is just as flagrantly there. Suppose a missionary feels bad for all the poor children living in India, so he sells all he has and seeks to help the impoverished. He builds orphanages, hospitals and shelters in order to help the starving children, yet in reality he has loved himself all along and did not want to feel guilty, and used the orphan children as a smokescreen for his disguised selfishness. At core, a politician who donates his life to helping others may be motivated by the same love for self as a school bully enforcing his insecurities on the playground. And what is the problem? Love.
Love cannot be the end all otherwise all manner of evil and grotesqueness is supported by love. Love cannot run a society because when I love me more than you, even in a democratic society, I will learn that 51% of me can take from the 49% of you. Love without constraint will ensure slavery (and it did for most of mankind’s existence), promote bigotry, and segregate society faster than any other force. You see, love is not the problem as much as who is the determiner of love.
In order for love to thrive and actually accomplish the beauty inherent in it, it cannot be the mistress of mankind. Love must find its definition outside of the thing loving or else it will be constrained by the societal dictates of either the majority or the fittest. Love then is ripped off of her lofty pedestal and drug through the mud unless it is defined by a higher source.
Love must be defined from its source, and therefore God must be the definer of love. Only then can I love the way that is proper and truly selfless because love then does not start and end with my preference. The love of God is defined by the person of God. Love is pure because God is pure. Pure love therefore must be submitted to the commands of God or else it is prostituted.
The Bible clearly explains this digression of love and actually pegs it as mankind’s problem. A Jewish Christian writing to the capital city of the Roman Empire, where love was defined as promiscuity and power called out this problem. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” (Romans 1:21) Any action that I do, if not submitted to God’s definition is a result of self-love. Just like a virus that simulates a cell and destroys it, mankind’s love simulate is destroying itself.
But there is a cure. The cure is found in that God, the definer of love, chose to die for our anarchous love of self and through His sacrifice made a way that God could show His love toward mankind. The cure is rather simple. Repentance of our own ways (Acts 2:38) and acceptance of what Christ did (Eph 2:8-9). Many people do not want to submit themselves to God, because that would mean that they can no longer love themselves. We love ourselves too much to submit to God’s definitions, and therein lies the problem.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – The Suffering Savior