“Love Hurts.” The song is right.
Some fools rave of happiness
Some fools fool themselves I guess,
But they’re not fooling me
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, 1960
“When you hear people talking about love,” I began, “What is their focus?”
“It’s always the same,” my young college friend responded, “Love is the answer to all the pain and problems of the world. Cultural, political, personal issues would disappear if we would just love each other.”
“The definition does not change much,” he looked off in the distance remembering conversations.
“Words like ‘affection,’ ‘attachment,’ ‘agreement,’ or ‘emotion’ are always part of the dialogue,” he looked back at me. “But the emphasis is always focused on self.”
“Folks normally think of love as it affects themselves,” he affirmed, “Any discussion begins with the assumption ‘How does this affect me?’ or ‘What will I get out of it?’”
“Oh no!” his exclamation was a fervent reply. “That would make people accept those with whom they disagree!”
“So statements like
“Love your enemies”
“Love God, love others”
“Til death do us part”
Do not seem to fit into the equation.”
“Right,” my young friend agreed, “No one wants to appear weak.”
“So if I’m properly understanding the issues,” I wondered aloud, “People who accept the cultural norms do not see love as unconditional, sacrificial, or others-centered. Even intimate relationships are evaluated on terms set by the individual. I can be in-and-out of love depending on my own standards. Love operates from a position of strength. If I believe you or your beliefs are wrong, you cannot be loved. Toleration works when we agree but I defame you if we disagree.”
“Sounds about right,” the collegiate agreed, “That’s what I see around campus.”
“The Christian cannot live based on the cultural definition,” I posited. “If we are afraid of rejection we will not show love’s ideal. But if we are willing to question the assumptions and definitions of the culture we can be counter-cultural. By accepting the position of weakness—I love you no matter if you love me or agree with me—we can begin a different conversation. Love assumes we will be uncomfortable.”
“Love assumes discomfort. I had not thought about love that way before,” he said. “Love means having no reservations. Love demands we be ‘all in’. I can’t wait to have this discussion with others!”
Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute and has discussions like this one with numerous students each week.
Picture credits: Wikipedia