Friday, June 26, 2015

Loving When the Going Gets Rough

 My heart is burdened today by the fact that we toss out the word love without truly understanding it. We limit what it looks like, what it can do, and what it should do.

I feel like the definition of love has been changed. It now solely means that a person must accept anything and everything regardless of what they may personally believe or feel convicted about. I'm not going to debate the major issue here because I don't think this is the platform for it, but I do want to shed some light on the idea of love and tolerance and what that really means and looks like.

Tolerance: The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with (source).

What does it mean to tolerate something? I feel as if the definition is clear, but from what I've seen and observed there mere act of "tolerating" something you don't agree with is now not enough.

A slightly silly example:

If I'm out getting dessert with a group of close friends and I say that I tolerate ice cream but I love cookies, my friends will (rightly) infer that I will be getting cookies rather than ice cream. What crosses the line is when a friend steps up and says,"No, you must like ice cream." At that point we would have a conversation about how I don't want ice cream and prefer cookies as a dessert.

What really becomes the issue here is when that same friend cries out to the rest of our group of friends pointing their finger at me and saying, "Can you believe it? She doesn't like ice cream! How can she choose to not like ice cream? I say we kick her out of our group and tell everyone else about how unfair it is that she doesn't like ice cream."

That's ridiculous. And I know that it is an imperfect example, but there are elements of truth there. It is perfectly fine to disagree with someone about...well, anything. The issue becomes when your disagreement (or the fact that you hold to a certain belief system) becomes "hate" or your preference is no longer valid.

I want to express one thought that many have already brought to the table - I'll be white noise at this point - but it's the reality of what marriage is. I personally don't think marriage should ever have been the issue because it's a word. Right now, in lieu of the recent law passing, the definition of marriage is being rewritten.

I am someone who uses words for a living and I have to ask, can we do that? Better yet, can the government do that? Can they pick and choose what words they wish to redefine? If tomorrow I picked up a spoon and said, "This is no longer a spoon, it is a fork" you'd think I was crazy. You would also politely remind me that we already have forks and that I can't just go around making up my mind that something that is established should be changed.

What is marriage? It's a covenant between a man and a woman that is united by and under God. It is an example of Christ and the church.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
- Ephesians 5:22-33
Ok, so things have changed. What is the response then? The response is one of love - but true, Gospel-centered love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I understand the desire to fight, bicker, or argue over what is right and wrong. Some could see this post as that, but it's not. In fact, it's my call for us to respond in love even when we are not given the some consideration. It's tempting to want to fight or to point out the disparity between what some are demanding and what is right, just, and fair.

This is our time to show Christ and what true love looks like. It isn't accepting sin, but it's also not condemning (that is God's role). It isn't angry fighting, but it's also not refraining from engaging (all of this covered in a loving response). It's also not the loss of hope, but a call to prayer (there is always hope in every situation because God can--and will--enter in to every area).

Pray for our nation. Respond in love.