In love with love


The subversion of Holy Scripture continues to proliferate in these tempestuous times as demagogues hijack Bible verses and principles to suit their human-centered agendas. Currently entrenched political divisions in the United States and elsewhere serve as prophetic, albeit secular, signposts to a rapidly approaching future where divisions will be much more pronounced and where the facade of politics will have dropped away, leaving extreme moral and spiritual differences. "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child." (Mark 12:12) Notably, there has been, in the ranks of the secular mainstream media, much more public analysis of the core principles of Christianity. The so-called zeitgeist film, "The Passion of the Christ," which was released earlier this year, stirred the percolating but still latent last-days type of spiritual division. Partly because of the aforementioned film, partly because it is a presidential election year in the U.S. and George W. Bush, the incumbent president, has stated his born-again Christianity, partly because the spotlight of the world stage is on the Islamic terrorists, and partly because of controversies swirling around homosexual marriage, abortion, and the Ten Commandments, there has been a definite, if not authentic or sincere, resurgence of interest in Christianity.

As a result, this year has seen a peculiar trend by the typically secular and irreligious segments of society to try to claim Christianity for themselves. Well-known personalities are speaking out on Christianity. On the subject of Bush and his Christian convictions, Meryl Streep chafed at what she perceived as Bush's hypocrisy by going to war and not heeding Jesus' command to "turn the other cheek." Movie actor Alec Baldwin was rather more direct when he recently dismissed the "religious" (read: Bible-believing Christians) right as "fundamentalist wackos." Even more extreme were former labor secretary Robert Reich's comments that people who believe in a divine power with authority over man were more dangerous than terrorists. On a higher profile level, there are these words from John Kerry's acceptance speech at the recent Democratic National Convention: "We welcome people of faith....As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."

The arguments are meant only to prop up a universalist and syncretized view of Christianity, one that blends other world views, religious beliefs, and humanist relativism. Most egregious and spurious are their obvious attempts to twist Scripture to justify human error -- sin. One common method is to blur the lines between what the Bible defines as love and what man wants love to mean. This reductive understanding of Biblically based, Godly love (agape love) has led to the contemporary morass of confusion, error, and wickedness.

Jesus said that love, indeed, is the greatest commandment. But note His distinction in Matthew Chapter 22:

37 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Therefore, to love the Lord is to obey Him. The Apostle Paul defines love in 1 Corinthians Chapter 14:
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Thus, Bible-based love abjures wickedness and leads to repentance. Paul states in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6:
9 Do you know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
10 Nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
The hoary Biblical paraphrase "love the sinner, but hate the sin" has been used and abused, and mostly abused. First and foremost, believers are told to flee sin; to resist the devil, not engage him. Because man is a fallen creature, "hate the sin" carries with it a Biblical warning. Paul implores believers to tread carefully when condemning sin: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) When caution is not exercised in this area, this famous line from Shakespeare's Hamlet often comes to mind: "[She] doth protest too much, methinks." Most importantly, "love thy neighbor" is adjunct to loving the Lord, thus inferring subordinance. The predication and order of these two commandments does not logically lead to contemporary relativism, i.e. "anything goes as long as you're happy and you're not hurting anybody else."

The impulse to redefine Godly love is as old as time. But as erstwhile Christian nations stray further from God's Word, the understanding of Biblically based love has become muddled. Love has been appropriated solely by human emotion and experience -- a love without God-given definition, limits, or understanding. It has come to the point now that the physical (sexual) defines love and the parameters of love. Humanist proponents seek to nullify the effect of God's Truth by reinserting their postmodern relativistic definition of love into a Biblical context. When they say "God is love," religious humanists mean not only to reduce God to the level of human emotion, but to imply reversal: that love is God. The conflation of man's (usually self-centered) love with God's love is the tragic result. God calls His children to model Godly love, not the love that man easily falls into, out of, confuses with lust, or manipulates for self-gain, pleasure, gratification, and so on.

At the very center of the moral quagmire is a reliance on human knowledge, experience, and emotion to define truth. That genuine, real, loving emotion and humane empathy can and does compel what the Bible defines as sins of the flesh, there is no denying. But that is the point: humanist love (and its manifestations) is much like the snake eating its own tail. Man fools himself by modeling selflessness on the outside to achieve godliness on the inside. The Christian model of sexuality -- marriage between man and woman -- requires love of and obedience to God at its center, without which it would dissolve into the cesspool of human knowledge, experience, and emotion. Sexuality is a function, not a driving force. It serves a divine plan; it isn't a divine plan. God designed the love and emotional experience between a husband and wife to be sustained by Godly obedience; again, as functions rather than driving forces. Beautiful functions and beautiful creations, but creations all the same. As subordinate creations, romantic love and sexuality cannot take the place of, nor act as substitutes for, Biblically based Godly love. They are subject to divine rules and limitations.

In today's society, many people are in love with "love" -- a love that reflects man. In essence, they are in love with themselves. A truth defined by man, beyond being merely pagan, leads to the antithesis of Biblical principles, where good is evil and evil is called good (cf. Isaiah 5:20). Biblical love calls for love of God over Self, not other men over Self, not society or the environment over Self, and certainly not the love of Self supreme. Man's ways lead to death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25); they already have. And as Fallen Man must die, so must his so-called truths.