What is it?
“Love is a many splendored thing“, “all you need is love“, etc. etc.
The Song of Solomon speaks of a man in love describing his beloved in no uncertain terms – “Your breasts are like two (
Horned Mammals) fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies.” (BAZINGA!)
There’s lots of descriptive words about love that circle around the term like moons around a planet or planets around a sun but what is love itself? Objectively speaking what is it?
1 John 4-8 says “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (Aka – love is defined and rooted in something that is utterly not human and completely outside of ourselves).
God is love…NOT…God is like love. Not – God is loving…but God IS love. It is important to understand this for what it is – this is not a comparison or an attribute but a clear definition of what God is. Nowhere else in the Bible is God defined. You find many verses that speak of what God is like…but nowhere do you find a simple definition of God except here in 1 John and in Deuteronomy 8:7 which, in simple and frustratingly confusing God-style says “God is God” a variation of the famous words of God to Moses “I am who I am“.
From a Platonic perspective God is the absolute model or archetype of love. Our love, whose source is found in God, is based on our limited perspective of God’s love which we can only perceive like a heart-shaped shadow on a cave wall that speaks of an infinitely greater and unseen source that must reach us for us to reach it.
All forms of love proceed from and are defined in comparison to God because God is love and (listen carefully here) love is God. (Usually it is at this point some will turn away in disgust with thoughts of “uggg…more God and Bible talk” to which I can only say – it is the filter through which I see the world and I will make no apologies for this).
In relation to this is another helpful verse in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 that does not describe love so much as it describes it’s nature:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Bold words (get it?).
Lately there are a lot of articles and books being written on love and endless opinions offered (IRONY ALERT) free of charge (although some charge) by endless streams of people…or more to the point…attempts to narrow the focus of love and justify adding certain attributes all of which are designed to justify or condemn feelings and actions of people in certain circumstances. Phrases that sometimes begin with “God hates…” etc.
Rather than get too detailed I would suggest the following criteria when you come across content that seems to narrow or make love somewhat exclusive – run.
Love is hard. Love is painful. Love is only for certain people. Love is a burden. Love is bondage. These all smack of rationalizations and desperate attempts to redefine and twist love into an image other than what it is based upon (see God earlier).
Love is a good thing because love is a God thing.
All bad things in the world (sin) are simply twisted versions of the good things we have been given. There is no bad thing that did not start out as a good thing. Love can be twisted into all kinds of bad things. Even hate and murder are twisted attempts at justice and judgement…but they are not justice and judgement…they are what we made them into.
Love twisted is no longer love…it is whatever we turned it into and no attempts at redefinition and rationalization can change that.
Anyhow this is my unqualified observation on love…these are words launched from the rock that I currently sit on and they are shaped by my journey so far and the view from where I’m at. These are words from my context…they are bound to change as I do but the nature of love never will. Praise God for this.