Love isn’t envious. Love isn’t proud or puffed up; it does not behave rudely. Love does not seek what is best for itself. Love does not think evil thoughts. Love does not rejoice in iniquity. Love never gives up. Love is not an emotion, it is not an idea created by Hollywood; it is a uniquely human Action built into our souls by God.
The word love is thrown around a lot in modern day America. The term is used to describe everything from our favorite pet, to our favorite movie, to our relationship with chocolate. And yet, the word was never really intended for such mundane uses as those. Love in the truest sense of the word can only be used to describe the actions in our relationships with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and each other. We hear what love is from so many corners of our culture, and so much of it is incorrect, that it seems prudent to talk about what love is not for a while.
Perhaps the most disturbing place where “what love isn’t” is on parade are in our marriages and families across America. Most marriage vows have somewhere in them to love and cherish until death do us part, or at least something along those lines. And yet, is it loving to so fill your daily schedule with activities and obligations that you only see your spouse for an hour at night after you are utterly exhausted and have given your best to everyone else? Is it loving to carve out time to spend on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, some other social media, or television shows or movies, but not have any time left to listen, talk, and do activities with our spouse? Is it loving to spend 12-15 hours a day at work, simply to come home and go to bed with maybe a quick hug and a good night? Is it loving to selfishly choose what you want to do, or what you are comfortable doing, instead of focusing on what your spouse needs? And though this is a much lesser consideration, is it loving to set this kind of example for our children? In all the conversations this author has every had over the years with married folks, there is not one single time when getting over-involved in work or extracurricular activities or hobbies was done and the person said, “it’s what’s best for my spouse.” Of course here many will say how important pushing their kids into all sorts of activities is, and so that is why they don’t have time for their spouse, but that is laughable if the marriage is falling apart around the kids because the parents are just ships passing in the night. These kind of decisions are self-serving, envious, and proud, they certainly aren’t loving.
Love is also not encouraging people to break laws or to perform acts that are harmful to themselves or others. We would never encourage a person to break into a house and steal, so why do some Americans encourage people to break into our country and steal from our citizens? We would never encourage a person to commit adultery, so why do we encourage people to “love” others of their same sex or to physically alter their bodies to mimic the other sex? Neither end of that spectrum is loving. Also, we would never encourage a person to try for last place in a race, to aim for being less than they should be, so why do we insist upon measures which hold back and limit the brightest among us in education? Helping or encouraging a person to act in ways that are degrading or damaging to them and other citizens is rude, selfish, and wicked; it is not loving.
Again, love is not falsely accusing children of actions based upon the color of their skin or the religion they adhere to. If you have followed the Covington High School episode over the last couple weeks, then you know that a group of high school students were accused of racism, derogatory remarks, intimidation, and instigation. In the end it appears all they were truly guilty of was perhaps some poor judgement, being a certain color, and supporting the right of a baby to draw its first breath. The accusatory actions of so many Americans, particularly those in the national spotlight, was much less than loving. Many of these would show more kindness to a stray cocker spaniel roaming down the streets than they did to these children.
And as last week we saw, love is not walking into a bank and shooting five innocent individuals, regardless of the reason. Nor is it loving to poison or rip apart over 150 babies in the same day in a different city. The debate as to whether killing a person, baby or adult, is loving is so far-fetched, so unmoored from reality, it is difficult to grasp how to even have that conversation. Yet, we create laws, such as gun free zones, which only endanger law abiding citizens, and the recent abortion law in New York, that allow and encourage murder of babies on demand. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to separate these laws, those who make them, and those who support them from evil, based upon the statement that “love thinks no evil.”
Without love our world falls apart, both on a national and personal level. As Paul stated, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” Love always hopes. So we must hope, but we must also act. We must make conscious decisions as Americans to support “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” Even more as spouses, parents, and friends, we must not talk of love as an emotion or some far off virtue, but act on it both to make our own lives better and to set an imitable example for those in our spheres of influence. As C.S. Lewis put it, “love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” We must act individually and as a nation, and we must acknowledge the ultimate source of love, Jesus Christ, or we must not be surprised when our spouse, children, friends, and nation fade away from us.
-JT Cope IV