Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

I often attend a small monthly philosophy group in Atlanta. The discussions are quite different from what I have with my friends during the rest of the month, because no other evangelical Christians ever attend this group (as best I can tell). For that matter, no other Christians of any discernable stripe attend, and the leader is a determinist who doesn't admit to believing in any God at all.
It's good for me to be there, because it helps me think through my worldview and convictions and how I can explain them to someone who's approaching our discussion from a very different angle. Of course, I hope that the others will somehow be nudged toward Jesus by what I have to say.
This week, we were discussing what makes for a good marriage relationship (or nonmarital partnership). One of the guys was claiming that the ideal relationship is one where:
  • You live and let live.
  • Tolerance reigns.
  • Neither party demands anything of the other and neither changes anything to accommodate the other (neither one "compromises").

It's hard to summarize accurately what he was saying, because to me it seemed inconsistent and a bit incoherent, but it was clear that he didn't agree with my claim that the best relationship is one based on active love, commitment, deference, service, and sacrifice. His view seemed to be that each should do whatever he/she wants, with the goal of maximizing self-pleasure and minimizing self-pain. I commented that if two partners with that view ever actually agreed on something, it wouldn't be a relationship, but a coincidence.

I left there thinking how radically different our worldviews are, and when I got home, I took the dog for a walk and prayed, remarking to God how vitally different my life is because God made me His child. Certainly, I don't always practice what I claim to believe about good relationships, but it's my aspiration to do so, and I'm immensely thankful for the significant friendships God has given me over the years. I believe I'm a lot less lonely than the guys I was talking to last night.
Of course, our Heavenly Father, Himself, is the best example of how to build good relationships (though it sounds weird to state it that way):
  • "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3.16)
  • "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15.13)
God's extraordinary love gives all (or at least all we could ever imaginably need), and it demands all. When we understand what He's done, we gladly give all in return - first, as a sign of thanks, and then in confident expectation of even more demonstrations of His love for us. "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4.19).


  1. Were there any women in the discussion group? If so, what was their reaction?

    Women are usually more intuitive about what love requires,even if they aren't Christians, probably would have been agreeing with your statement and giving the other guy the riot act.

    I hope.

  2. There usually are 1-2 women, but this month it was just men.