Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Slippery Words: 1 - "Love"

I was chatting with a colleague last week, and I ventured to say that the word "love" is so over-used (especially in the pulpit) as to become the verbal equivalent of debased coinage.

I reminded him that the late Bishop  Krister Stendahl (a man of immense wisdom) urged preachers not to use the word (love) unless it was specifically used in the biblical passage for the day.

Bishop Stendhal not withstanding, it is hard for me to recall a recent sermon in which there was no  reference to the love of God.

Of course I trust in God's love (most days), but I believe that the Christian message should not, and cannot be reduced to the simplistic message that "God loves everyone".

When I hear "God loves everyone"  I respond by thinking "why?", or "so what?".  Is God no greater than my beloved pooch Penne who seems to love everyone?

My musings on the word "love"  were stirred when the United States Supreme Court ruled that we Americans have the right to marriage whether it be between a man and a woman, or between two women, or two men.

The Supreme Court does what the Supreme Court does.

But the Supreme Court cannot and should not determine the popular response to its rulings.

In this case, the most popular response (in my liberal circles) to the Court's ruling was  "love wins".

I did not like that response.

For you see "love" is a fungible and malleable word.

For instance,  we have all heard words such as these:
1, "I am telling you this because I love you"  (or maybe because I want to control you).
2, "If you truly loved me you would do this......" (even if it offends you).
3"Don't leave me because I love you"
4,  "If you loved me you would have sex with me".
And the list goes on, and on and on.
For my part the Supreme Court ruling,  good or bad as it may be, should be understood  in the realm of equality, or justice, but  most certainly  NOT in the realm in the malleable and fungible concepts  of 'love".   

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