Real Love Lost

Vantage Point
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Jesus’ teachings form the root of what real love is.

With the White House doused in rainbow colors and people dancing in the streets, proponents of same sex marriage exulted in the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year legalizing same sex marriage. Their triumphant assertion: “Love Won.” But did it really?

For centuries, the commonly held conception of love was decidedly virtuous, calling to mind such things as selflessness, sacrifice, self-control, and a willingness to hold the beloved in high esteem. Understood in this light, love rightfully held the moral high ground. 

It was Jesus who said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Likewise, Jesus linked love with moral excellence: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” His followers maintained, “Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast.  It is not proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.” These teachings form the root of what real love is.

No one doubted that real love grows from something more than mere sexual impulses. The two often go hand in hand, but between them love should always hold the reins. 

Enter the 1960s: the Hugh Heffners of the world convinced many people that sexual impulses are merely biological inclinations that are morally neutral and separate from the lifelong commitments of marriage. Indeed, this philosophy vilified the teachings of biblical Christianity because it denied us this supposedly simple pleasure—a sentiment captured in the lyrics “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” 

Then modern psychology joined the bandwagon. Seeking physical and cultural explanations for all of humankind’s idiosyncrasies without meaningful reference to the spiritual realm, it made biological urges our defining feature. Our genetic make-up sets the agenda. The alignment of my chromosomes determines who I am. It determines who I will love and how, when, and why I will love. I have no control over it, and neither should anyone else.

There’s the rub. If ever there was a force in the world that needs to be educated and controlled by higher influences, it’s the biological urges and appetites of human beings. Without those controls we eat too much, drink too much, and take in life-threatening toxins for the pleasurable sensations they give us. We regularly educate and control our urges: fear, anger, frustration, envy, and revenge. Such education and controls are at the very heart of  civilization. It also explains why the New Testament word for the sin nature is “the flesh.” But for some reason, we’re expected to believe that sexuality is the one sphere in which biological impulses should go unimpeded.

This is not a scenario in which love is the winner.

About the Author

 

bc Cumings is pastor of Mountain View Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, Wash.

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