Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Semantics of Love (from Ray Andersen)

Some profound words concerning love from Ray Andersen. I am in the middle of reading his memoir The Soul of God for class and I came across this paragraph yesterday. These words are words that I have been longing to hear for awhile. I've had many recent conversations with people talking about what we know about love, and how we can evaluate love with human standards and compare them to the divine. Just go read 1 John 4 and you'll be good.

The semantics of love (that to which the term itself refers) are clear and unambiguous. "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us. . ." (1 John 4:10). At the time I was tempted to say that if God is love, then love is God. But this is only true if we maintain the asymmetrical relation between God's love and human love. We can say that God is love, but the reverse cannot be said: love, by human standards, is not God. The reductionism of divine love to human love leads to a confusion of tongues. When the absolute demand (gift) of love is relativized to our love of the neighbor without God as the middle term, love collapses into mutual self-love. "We love God because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). At the same time, if we say that we love God but do not love others, our professed love for God is a lie (1 John 4:20).

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