"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."
Johnny stared at the floor angrily. His shoes were still muddy and a few flower pedals stuck to them like shoddy decorations on a chocolate cake.
"You know very well that you shouldn't have done it!" Johnny's mother declared. Johnny didn't respond, just pouted more. "Honestly I don't know what to do with you some days. When your father gets home he'll paddle you good but until then no more X-Box for a week!" She said, almost despairingly.
"That's no fair!!!" Johnny burst out, glaring up at his mother.
"Johnny, you deliberately stomped all the new flowers Annie Gordon just planted along her walk next door -- you crushed them all on purpose! You knew that was wrong!"
"You hate me!"
"No Johnny, I love you."
"That's dumb, you're being mean to me, you don't love me!" Johnny wailed.
Johnny's mother knelt down and held him by his shoulders, looking into his face.
"Johnny, love means teaching and correcting, too. Just letting someone get away with wrong hurts someone, it doesn't help. I am punishing you because I love you."
"You're being mean to me, you're a hater!" Johnny stomped out of the room, leaving muddy tracks in the carpet.
Recently on Twitter, someone became upset that Christians want to be able to deny making a cake for a homosexual "wedding." They claimed that Christians are supposed to be known by their love, and all she could see was hate.
This made me think a moment, something I try to do whenever someone confronts or opposes my worldview or perspective on something. Its too easy to just kneejerk reject them and attack, but maybe they have a point, maybe they know something I've been blind to.
Is it, in fact, not loving to refuse to bake a cake for a couple seeking to officially declare and bind their love in a ceremony (or photograph it, arrange flowers, etc)? And are Christians violating a Biblical principle by not showing love in this manner?
Certainly I believe we as Christians have been guilty of being unloving in our conduct recently far too often. Frequently, instead of being concerned about the truth and the glory of God, we've been concerned with our fears and anger at the changes in culture. We've been defensive and upset rather than loving and humble. We haven't been patient and loving, we've been angry and aggressive, even insulting and mocking. And that is not showing the love of Christ or obeying God.
So to a certain extent, this tweeter was right: Christians have not been demonstrating love. For that, we must seek forgiveness and humbly work toward being better ambassadors in this world. Her tweet should act for me as a wake up call in how I behave and talk; it should urge me to be a better child of God.
So while I'm certain this tweeter thought they had the big zinger that Christians would be stopped and unable to respond to, the ultimate answer to shut up her opponents, there was something to it despite her likely motivations.
THE SONG, NOT THE BOOK
However, there are some flaws with this tweeter's idea. The first problem this person had is that they were basing their theology on a song. The song was popular in the 70s and I suppose is still sung around campfires and in some churches:
we are one in the Spirit
we are one in the Lord (x2)
and we pray that all unity
will some day be restored
and they'll know we are Christians
by our love, by our love
yes, they'll know we are Christians
by our love
And so on, the song goes: Chorus, verse, chorus, repeat; pretty standard "praise chorus" stuff. And its the chorus this tweeter is going from: They'll know we are Christians by our love." This is a song, not a creed, and while it comes from the Bible, the actual quote is at the top in bold face from the gospel of John.
The verse is that people will know Christians by their love for each other. Now its not that Christians are not to love others, that's plainly taught in scripture. Its that this verse is not about how people perceive Christians acting toward the world at large, but how they see love between fellow Christians being demonstrated fully and joyfully. Too often this isn't the case - wars between Christians have been going on almost since Jesus ascended into heaven - but in general its the truth.
WHAT IS LOVE?
Then there's a basic problem with definitions. This girl was defining both love and hate improperly, based on personal focus. She defines "hate" as "people behaving in a manner I don't like" and love as "people behaving in a manner I think is nice." That's pretty common today and I blame the church more than anyone else for not clearing up the true definitions of these terms.
Love I've written about several times, but never as well as C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves. I recommend that book highly to everyone as a masterpiece on love and its meaning, consequence, and fullness.
The barest thumbnail summary goes like this: there are several kinds of love, and as each moves toward the ultimate, truest form of pure love, it focuses less on self and more on the object loved. Ultimately, pure, true love is absolutely focused on the other person, not on yourself.
But as I've written about before (and pointed at in the introductory little story), love doesn't mean doing what other people like or want. In fact most often love is defined by doing for someone else what they aren't even aware is needed or good for them.
Love means fighting to get your buddy off heroin. Love means stopping someone from breaking the law or hurting themselves. Love means helping someone correct a personal flaw, fight a personal demon. Love means helping someone be the best they can be more than doing nice things for them. Its easy to buy flowers and say nice things to someone. Its hard to help them be a better person.
Love isn't controlling: you don't force them to be better; you encourage, help, teach, support, and fight with them to be better. And sometimes love means punishment. We don't lovingly punish our kids out of hate or sadism, we punish them because they need to know right from wrong, need to do good and not evil, and need to grow and learn to make proper, good choices on their own when they are mature.
If someone is doing something wrong, the very minimum level of love means you don't help them out in their wrongdoing. Period. Doing so is not loving, it is destructive toward them, and even hateful by helping them damage and destroy themselves.
And that's the problem here. Her definition of love is a child's: selfish and self-focused. She thinks that someone shows love by letting people do whatever they want. And what's more, she believes that unless you go along with and endorse someone's behavior, you're not just lacking in love but showing hatred.
Now as I've mentioned many times before, the opposite of love is not hate. Hate still cares about the other person, it is a passionate response to them. The opposite of love is apathy: you care nothing for them, they mean nothing to you. And that is what she wants from Christians. She wants us to not care about other people, to not be concerned for them. To let them do whatever they want and more to assist them in whatever they want.
And further, this concept of love and hate is all entirely self-focused. What it means to Christians to endorse and help out people in their sin is no particular concern to her. Who cares what they think and feel, they should do what I want! The idea of forcing people to violate their essential religious liberty and conscience is completely irrelevant to her.
And if she loved Christians as she demands they love her, then she would insist that she endorse and assist Christians in their ideals and practices. But that's not even on the table, her whole worldview is inwardly directed. Her desires, her wants, her lusts, her happiness, comfort, and ease.
And as I've written countless times before, the problem is that she has no basis, no grounds for her ideals, only what she prefers. She has no foundation from which to build, only the shifting miasma of personal preference and current whims. These whims change continually, based on the prevailing societal trends (from the leftist leadership and cultural forces she likes).
But she insists, insists that everyone go along with this or they're not just different, mistaken, confused, or wrong but hateful.
And in the end, demanding other people not just agree with you but support, affirm, endorse, and assist you in your lifestyle is tyranny. Its as bad as if Christians insisted that all homosexuals be jailed or sent to camps for "reeducation." She has her worldview and she demands everyone follow it or there will be consequences. Legal punishment, loss of a business, jail time.
To make this more palatable, its presented in terms of "civil rights" and "hate" and "love" but in truth, all that does is put a nice bow around a steel spiked glove of tyranny. No matter how you dress it up, forcing people to violate their consciences, forcing people to go along with what you demand is not loving or good, but tyrannical and bad.
Yet I'm confident she's not even aware of this. I think she's grown up in an environment where this kind of thing never even comes up, she's never been challenged to think through her worldview, and she's surrounded by people who reinforce and support her ideas.
Further, she's been raised to think that people who think like her are good, nice, positive, and loving, which means that anyone who differs is necessarily evil, mean, negative, and hateful (because she thinks that's the opposite of love).
And for far too many people, that's as far as they get. And what's worse is that they've been raised with the idea of "there oughta be a law" not "I tolerate people and love liberty."
They call themselves liberal, but they don't want liberty, they want dominance and control. They call themselves progressives, but they don't want progress, they want tyranny and stagnation. They haven't had a new idea since 1930, but consider themselves progressive and far-thinking.
They call themselves tolerant, but will only tolerate what they already agree with, which means they "tolerate" nothing whatsoever.
They claim to love science but know little about actual science, only the use of the terms as a bludgeon to attack and demean those they disagree with.
And the saddest thing of all is that they don't even know any of this, not most of them. They've just been raised a certain way, surround themselves with people who agree, and every day make sure they get a new dose of indoctrination by filling their heads with Jon Stewart, MSNBC, and the latest TV show or film that promotes everything they agree with.
So these are sad, ignorant fools who need our love and prayers. But they also need to grow up and learn, and I am not confident that will ever take place.