Friday, March 25, 2011

Love Et Cetera.

Through my current situation and changes in my life I have been contemplating the difficult concept of love. Moreover while there are 18 inches between the head and the heart this idea has captivated both. Through it all I remain convinced that true love is eternal and unconditional. Love is a commitment not merely an emotion. Some commitments are forced. We often love our family not because of a physiological imbalance of chemicals in our brains, but because they are the ones who we must deal with, we must talk to. We develop a desire to love these people for their own sake and not what they can do for us over time. When a father loves his son it is not out a need of the father for the son, however when the son is young he needs his father. It is only later in life that children begin to love their parents not for what mommy and daddy can do for them but because of who they are. Don’t get me wrong it is not that the children are not still grateful for all their parents have given them and will continue to give, but they do move past this contractual form of love to something greater.

There are really only two types of love, though each has certain subcategories. The first type is that contractual form of love. I dare say this is not love at all, it is more of a business arrangement. The two people involved in the relationship get something from one another and thus only love each other in so far as their end of the deal has been met. You could perhaps fit all human relationships into this category though many will strive to be free of it.

When it comes to the relationships between two members of the opposite sex the most basic form of contractual love is chemistry as love. Chemistry is not love. Chemistry will come an go throughout any relationship. However when chemistry is strong and confused with love the relationship becomes very, very contractual. It is as if each partner is saying to the other, “I will continue to love you so long as I have these urges.” People who can move from one relationship to another very quickly often view simple chemistry as love. This is the lowest form of love and does not even deserve the title. It is lust. While no one can deny in a truly loving relationship there will be chemistry to define the entire relationship by it is to doom it from the start. Also it is not clear to the one who holds this view that this is the view he or she holds, we often flatter ourselves into thinking we are far nobler or loving than we actually are.

The next pitfall people face when entering a contractually loving relationship is that they are forced into love or feel like they should fall in love. They want to fall in love. To quote Anberlin “you’re in love with love.” This understanding of love is the idealist view of love. I love the idea of being in love you with you as the cliche goes. This version of love again is simply a modified view of lust. It breaks down to chemistry. Love should feel like this or that. The idea of the person in the mind of one who holds this view regarding love is often that the other is a princess in a castle or a white knight ready to rescue her. It is more difficult to break off this form of love because while the idea and reality clash, the one who holds this view, will see the ideal as the reality. They will fight with their entire being to hold on to the ideal which was never there in the first place, or they will throw the relationship away because their partner cannot live up to the ideal. This form generally starts when a partner chooses the things about the other they like and views them as the entirety of the partner.

The next view of love is what i would call the truest form of human love. This form loves the other person for who they are. This love is as unconditional as a human can get. They love the other for their sake. The best example we have of this type of love is Christ and his Church. Christ’s particular redemption of sinners shows us the great depths of this love. This love is self sacrificing and always seeking to bring the beloved into a closer relationship with the lover. This is the love that according to Paul never fails. This tricky statement does not mean that the lover will always succeed in bringing the beloved into a closer relationship with them. We are not God and do not know perfectly what will bring specific people into a closer relationship with them. However that is the aim. That the person loved is brought into a closer relationship with the person loving, and also with God. Some might argue that this too is a contractual form of love. I must disagree. This form of love, while seeking the betterment of the relationship is not contingent upon it. The only contingency is the well being of the beloved. I should note that the well being foremost involves their relationship with God through Christ. Yet even if the other rejects both you and Christ, the love for them does not cease. This love is a commitment not a contract. This love says, “even if you wrong me, even if you leave me, even if you kill me I will love you and do what is best for you. While it is my hope that you will grow more and more Godly each day, that our relationship will grow and change into something far more and far better than we can imagine, even if it does not, I will love you.” Someone once equated being in love to walking into a candy store, “you walk in when there’s candy (chemistry, the ideal, etc.) and even when there’s no candy (chemistry, the ideal, etc.) you still stay until the candy (chemistry, the ideal, etc.) is back.” I would simply add that being in love means you stay in the candy store even if it shuts down. Anything else would simply be a business arrangement, a cold contract.

*Disclaimer* I do realize that there are certain situations where a relationship needs to end or be placed on hold. Home violence being chief among them. I am not advising people in such situations to simply stick it out for the sake of love. No indeed i would advise them to get out of that situation but not stop loving the abuser and hoping they would repent and turn to Christ.

Let me know what you think.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul