Sunday, May 20, 2007

Love Will Keep Us Together (Concluded)

Love is… a relationship, a feeling, a disposition. Interesting nouns to be sure, yet somehow still… less than satisfying in connotation, in richness, in character. Though seeking an essential definition, simple, sterile concepts fail to do justice to this idea – perhaps a primal element of our existence.

I’m particularly drawn to the idea of a bond… not a note that earns interest (although there may indeed be some interesting parallels… hmmm), nor a “binding agreement” under which one agrees to perform a specified act (like showing up for a court appearance… again, though, the potential for some relevant parallels…. Hmmm again!). No, I’m thinking of a bond like in chemistry, between atoms in a molecule… like a covalent bond… a bond that represents a force joining two entities…. not though, a physical connection, with a specific device or mechanism actually touching and connecting the elements, but some sort of attraction or force-like mechanism… a bond. The best analogy I can come up with is gravity… a force between two entities, proportional to their mass, and inversely proportional to the distance between them; gravity is a bond that, although we can express the force exerted on the two bodies, we really can’t describe the bond… other than to say that this attractive force exerted on the bodies can indeed be characterized as a bond. I propose that love is, in essence a kind of bond… a force, kind of like gravity, that draws to bodies, two personalities, two entities together.

From Oswald Chambers, the idea that love is elective is, I think also essential. In earlier posts and discussions, we’ve talked about the idea that God gave us free will in order to choose to love Him. It would seem that a key part of love is the fact that it must be chosen.

Now here is where I depart from Oxford and the secular authorities. It’s an easy leap to make, after the post and discussion regarding “Mongo Theology” and the roll of emotion and intellect in our relationship with God. In the first post in this series, I concluded (to be redundant) that …

“we are continually and unceasingly to “love the Lord our God with all of our… 'heart, mind, strength, soul, passion, emotion… aggregated and interchangeable or not… in intimate partnership with Him, as the tapestries of our lives unfold.'”

Amongst the Christ-following community, there is consensus that we were indeed created to love God. God is a transcendent being, He exceeds, surpasses, and overflows the boundaries imposed by our finite minds. I believe, therefore, that since ”God is Love,” that love itself must have the transcendent nature of God.

The definition of love I would offer then is:

“Love is the elective bond that defines and characterizes our relationship with God and in God.”

Love, like gravity, binds us to God, and in the nature of that relationship, binds us to one another (in and through Him). An obvious conclusion here is that love cannot exist independent of God…. there may be affection, lust, desire… but love can only exist in a relationship founded in God.


Stephanie said...

Maybe only choosing the word LOVE is where you are complecating the issue. Maybe, like the greek, you need different words for LOVE. If you are trying to define the Love of God that is different than a love found in friendship.

We need to be like the Inuit who have 35+ words for snow. We need more words for love. It would be nice that when someone says "I love my new backpack" they could use a different word.

Old_Guy said...


You are soooooo right. I've specifically chosen to limit the scope of the word. It's actually kind of funny, 'cause English has a vocabulary that is SIGNIFICANTLY larger than any other language on the planet, yet we have some really interesting limitations... for example... If I am really hungry and unable to get food for myself, and I want your help, what do I want you to do? [I want you to FEED me, right?] But if I'm thirsty, what do I want you to do??? [Hmmm... we can't answer that question with ONE word like we can with hunger... hungry - feed; thirsty - ????].

Anyway, I really think my backback is nice, it suits me well, and serves the purpose I intended for it....

Toph said...

I find that parallel to gravity interesting. One fascinating aspect of gravity is that we really don't know why it works. (Although as you pointed out to me, science ultimately gives the answer: it works because it does.) For a long time, we just accepted Aristotle's view that objects wanted to be at rest and on the ground. Then Newton showed it as a universal principle. But we still can't empirically prove whether Einstein's general relativity or the unobserved and massless gravitons account for why it works.

Similarly, we can put terms on God's love, philosophize, engage in it ourselves, but do we really know why God loves us? We know why we love Him (1 John 4:19), but do we know an objective motive behind God's love? Did He have to love us? Sure, He created us in His image, and we are valuable, but He had no obligation He had to obey, telling Him to love us. And shouldn't that inspire us to love God all the more?

Stephanie said...

Hungry? Feed me. Thirsty? Water me???? I guess you're right. It only works if you're a plant. What about "hydrate"?

"Hydrate me"

Brady said...

Hi Kit. Brady Has Blog.

Wow thats really interesting about limitations in English.

Unknown said...

English is a fundamentally flawed language. We have begged, borrowed and stolen from German, Spanish, French, and Latin. Then we threw it all together to create the vulgar unholy offspring of spoken word. And we know that language as English.

Anywhoo, back to why I'm here. The definition of love. So... Here it goes.

God is love, yes. But love is something... more. God is not love in the sense that he is the definition of it. I feel that he is the embodiment of love, and from his example we can glean the true meaning of love. Steph says that the definition of the Love is different based on the context. I dont think that meaning changes so much as the intensity of the word. So now it's time for one of my signature roundabout explanations for something that can be summed up fairly simply.

So here we have our Creator. The one who is always there for us. Never falling behind, never abandoning us, and never forgetting us. All that and more despite the fact that we constantly forget Him and stray from his path intentionally and by accident.

But that still doesn't tell us what love is, does it? All it shows is God's devotion to us, which is a part of his love.

the verse from the bible that EVERYONE knows is John 3.16. Yeah, yeah, we all know what it says. "For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son to die for us so that we may be redeemed." or something along those lines. I'm to lazy right now to look it up, and i never actually committed it to memory. But the point is, God cared enough to send his Son to die for us.

So here we have a piece of the picture. God is love, we already established that. But God is also the embodiment of the emotion of love. MEANING he must love us a lot to send his Son to die for us. But why would he do that? Because he wants whats best for us.

If you ask me, that is the definition of love.

"Wanting what is best for the other, no matter what the cost ends up being for yourself."

That definition can cross the whole spectrum, and it can hold all the intensity you want depending on how you use it.

And what I like about it, is it is a stealth church answer. People who didn't know I was a Christian have asked me for my views on love. And I have shared that definition with them. It sparks conversation, and when the they ask how I came to it I tell them that the definition came from my perception of God's actions. It is a very good way to get people interested, and asking questions about God. And all the while you can love them, even if you just met them. Because hey, wanting them to know God? Isn't that wanting whats best for them?

Old_Guy said...


Nice Job! For myself, I still require that God be an intrinsic part of the definition of love, but you've forged a very workable definition that serves well in dialog. I very much appreciate your thoughts!