Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.

 

Love

20-Sep-2017

Much of the discussion surrounding the Same Sex Marriage issue concerns “love”. You may not recognise that when you consider the more unloving defences of love. Personally, I am against unloving defences of love no matter which side of the argument you might be on. It is very hard to defend love when your words or your refusals to allow words are loveless. It is in such a context that all our concepts of love need to be carefully reconsidered.

In an age that focuses on the individual, where we are constantly told to love ourselves it is not surprising to discover that a person’s identity gets bound up with their sexuality and the pursuit of personal, emotional and romantic fulfilment. Equally, when a person’s identity is on the line, such a pursuit will claim enormous authority for itself, an authority no one should be allowed to question.

Love, coupled with a person’s sense of identity, is not something to be careless with, hence the need in our current debate on Same-Sex Marriage to speak wisely and respectfully when addressing both love and identity and offering more than just new campaign slogans.

Love, coupled with a person’s sense of identity, is not something to be careless with, hence the need in our current debate on Same-Sex Marriage to speak wisely and respectfully when addressing both love and identity and offering more than just new campaign slogans.

Of course, the Bible presents love in a three word slogan – “God is love”. Slogans are not wrong in themselves but need to be unpacked and considered in any campaign, even God’s campaign to redeem broken hearts and lives.

In an attempt to actually love others through the same-sex marriage debate I have come to recognise that there are two very different world views at play, which affect both our understanding of identity and love. In one world view “I” am the centre of reality, while in the other “God” is the centre of reality.

Consider identity and love from both world views.

Let’s call the first, “The ‘I’ World View”. In this world view my identity is subjectively determined being governed by my desires for what I want. We might even say, “need”, because our sense of identity is bound up in this. The danger when it comes to love is that love is reduced to being a servant of my needs and is not love when it no longer serves my needs. Of course, when love fails in “The ‘I’ World View” the blow to one’s identity is deeply depressing. There is, of course, no rest in “The ‘I’ World View”, only insecure grasping because the loss of love has massive impact on one’s sense of identity. What follows is identity’s endless quest for new lovers that authenticate self.

Let’s call the second world view, “The ‘God’ World View”. In this world view God is love. He is by definition love. By description this love is seen in Jesus Christ laying down his life for us. With regard to my identity, it is not something I must pursue but it is objectively determined by the love of God who makes us in His own image bestowing on us a priceless identity of indelible, eternal dignity. Identity therefore need not be grasped at, at the expense of others, but received as a gift from, and in, the relentless, redemptive love of God. On “The God World View” the authority in life is not me but God. My identity is not bound up in self authentication or romantic fulfilment but the creative and redemptive work of God. In that context love is freed from its captivity to self to be a servant of others.

The Same-Sex Marriage debate comes with clever slogans, like “Love is Enough” or “Love Wins”. We know that “love” is a word that has been used manipulatively a myriad number of times in history in all sorts of contexts and especially in the sexual and marriage arena. So whether we are committed to “The ‘I’ World View” or “The ‘God’ World View” now is a great time to reflect on “love” and consider what it is, where it comes from, how it should be lived and the authority that governs love.

Oh, and of course we ought to try and love one another. That’s something God commands.

Bishop Rick Lewers
Armidale Anglican Diocese