Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What is Love?

I would argue until I'm blue in the face that most of who we are as individuals or communities is socially constructed. That's not to say that we are born tabula rasa--completely devoid of anything that makes baby A different from baby B other than the obvious biological differences. But really, why is it that I love Jesus? Why do I love the environment? Why am I drawn to a guy like Ryan instead of some other type of guy--the beach boy as opposed to the thug or the bad boy? The kinds of values we are exposed to from family, friends, media, literature, etc. really define for us what matters and what doesn't. So it only makes sense to me that there would be developments of different "love languages" among people; we each have learned, from our unique exposure to the world, HOW to love other people.
I was at the Wal-mart one day, and I overheard a couple having an argument about a litter box. They had a little boy with them who heard everything, from the woman snapping at the man to the man cowering at the woman's dominance. I couldn't help but pray for that little boy and the type of destructive love relationship that he was witnessing. How will this boy grow up and relate to a woman someday?
I've wondered whether or not we can really know love and show it to others if we don't understand the love of Christ. In 1 John 4:9-10, John really lays out what genuine love is according to God. He sent his son for us because he wanted communion with us. He loved us first. He took the initiative to seek us through a sacrifice, though we are undeserving. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us." THEREFORE, "... we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). What I'm trying to say is that the way that I understand what love is to any capacity is because I know how Jesus has been beaten and crucified for me. What greater example of love could there be? Mr. Darcy pales in comparison.
So I think of that little boy who is going to grow up with a distorted view of what love is and how he should love others. Sorry if this sounds extreme, as if witnessing that one fight is going to affect the rest of that boy's life, but I truly believe that our expectations of how we'd like to be shown love as well as the ways we show love ourselves are constructed by the examples we see. In light of that, no wonder we are so confused!
All I can say is that I've seen a lot of different love scenarios because I read novels and watch movies, and I'm at the age where everyone is starting to get engaged or married. I've compared my own life with these people, but I've come to realize that comparisons like this are just worthless because the only thing I should be comparing the way I love and relate to others is through Jesus' example. It's the only perfect love out there, and while my love is never going to reach the depths of the love of Christ, I am absolutely convicted that THAT is the example by which we should be constructing our views on love. It just wouldn't make sense to follow any other model.

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