Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is Love a Lie?

What is more common than talk of love? The word is overused. So much love is false. The despairing lyrics of an insightful song say:
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start

Some love is just a lie of the soul
A constant struggle for the ultimate state of control

Some love is just a lie of the mind
It's make believe until it's only a matter of time
(Billy Joel, "A Matter of Trust" on The Bridge .)

Longing for Love

With all the lies of love, with all the wounds, betrayals, cruelties, deceptions, and abandonments, still we take a personal interest in the prospect, the hope, the promise of love.

Why do people keep falling for lies of love? We do because of a desire that is right and good, a longing rooted deeply in our hearts. We yearn for it and keep hoping it will be true. We want it to be true through and through, true in our heart, mind, and soul. We want something real and not a meaningless, empty, vain illusion.

For love to be true, it must be rooted in eternity. It cannot be a recent fad. It cannot be true only for now. Love must be true from eternity past, through the present, and into eternity future. For love to be true, it must be divine. Love must be something God does, wants, and shares.

The Abolition of Love

Do we have a personal interest in love? Do we want to believe in true love and love eternal? Then we should know this: without the Trinity, love is abolished.

Let's see why this is so. Looking to eternity past, before "In the beginning," before the creation of heaven and earth, there was only God. There were no creatures, no angels, and no humans. Suppose at that time there were not three persons in the Godhead. Suppose there were only one person as in Unitarianism or Islam. Where was the love? It never was.

Love is a relation between persons. There are many levels of love and the Bible uses many words for the levels. We lose some of the richness in our English Bibles because all those words come out as the one word "love" in our translations. At the highest level, love is a relation in which one person does right by another regardless of everything. At other levels, love is brotherliness, attraction, arousal, emotion, kinship, companionship, and comfortableness, to name a few. At all these levels, love is a relation between persons.

In a god of only one person, there are not two or more persons to have relations. Before "In the beginning," one person would have had no one to love and no one to love him.

From Love to Hell

Someone might say that even though god was only one person, still, god loved.

The love of such a god must have been self-love. That person had only himself to love. If he loved, he loved himself. In that case, love's nature is so altered that it is no longer what we desire. It is no longer love of one person for another. Love becomes hellish.

Love cannot exist in isolation, but presupposes the other. Self-love is the negation of love. As Charles Williams shows to such devastating effect in his novel Descent into Hell, self-love is hell; for, carried to its ultimate conclusion, self-love signifies the end of all joy and all meaning. Hell is not other people; hell is myself, cut off from others in self-centeredness.
(Kallistos Ware, "God as Trinity," The Orthodox Way, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995, p. 28)

The Trinity: Love's Eternal Home

In the Trinity, even before "In the beginning," there was love. There was a Father and a Son. The Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father. This is family. This is home. The Son had a home in the Father and the Father had a home in the Son. The Trinity is love's eternal home.

Even richer, there was the Holy Spirit. The Father loved the Spirit and the Spirit loved the Father. The Son loved the Spirit and the Spirit loved the Son.

Gaze dwellingly upon the whole rich texture of filling, satisfying substance of love in the Trinity before a blade of grass ever felt the dew of morning, before a tree heard a bird song -- before Adam saw Eve -- love already was true and eternal between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
At the very heart of the divine life, from all eternity God knows himself as "I and Thou" in a threefold way, and he rejoices continually in this knowledge. (Ware, p. 28.)
Jesus said in prayer to His Father,

"You loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
Perfect Love

Think of the glories and wonders, the pleasures and comforts of such love. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, distinct persons, but one divine essence, one in the heavenliness of heaven. What made heaven heavenly was their union in love. Put that love union anywhere and that place must be heaven!

What happiness to never have to wonder what the other person said behind one's back, to never wonder what was meant by a comment, to never be unsure of the attitude behind a look of the eye, for an expression of the face to never be a riddle or an enigma, to trust, to believe all things, to bear all things, to hope all things, for there to be no wrongs or record of wrongs, no envy, no rivalry, no rudeness, no gossip, for every moment and every blink of consciousness to be all kindness and faith perfectly.

Can we participate in such love? Follow on. The next posting will be, How Are You Loved?

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