“Love your neighbour as yourself” must be one of the most profound and world-changing statements ever made. The Old Testament of the Bible and the New Testament agree. It is the essence of the law given by Moses. It was re-stated by Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul. No religious leader or politician has ever put it better.
To me it is the ‘prime directive’ to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil, between what leads us to God and what separates us from him.
To love means to seek good for the beloved
- Does my action harm him or her?
- Does my lack of action harm him?
- Do my words or attitude hurt another person?
- Does what I am thinking reduce another to being less than fully human?
Some things are obviously against the law of love
- Murder, violence.
- Stealing what belongs to someone else.
- Being unfaithful to someone to whom we have committed our life.
- Hating people, whether in thought, word or action. This reduces the target person to being less than human.
- Gossip harms the reputation of others.
- Lying or distorting the truth harms people.
- Abuse of power harms the community as a whole.
- Abusing the vulnerable for sexual gratification hurts the recipient greatly.
Same sex relationships
For many years I considered gay relationships to be basically wrong. However I am on a journey and have changed my opinions and attitudes, and with them my theology. I truly believe that the law of love applies and whether our actions hurt another person.
So, I want to apply the guiding principle of love and ask the question “Does my action hurt someone else, or even hurt myself”. In some cases it does. For instance I think that being promiscuous or unfaithful hurts our partner and ourselves.
But I must ask the question, “Does a loving relationship with someone of the same sex hurt the other person?”, and the answer is “No!”. Such a relationship is only harmful if our actions do not agree with the way we are made, and what therefore is natural to us. If we accept that God has made some of us differently, we must accept that for such a person. If they act against the way they are made, the relationship is harmful because it is unnatural to act against our nature.
As a heterosexual is is not easy for me to understand being attracted to someone of the same sex. But I must not impose my feelings upon another person who is made differently from me. I therefore conclude that homosexuality is not against the law of love and is not wrong. Indeed it would be wrong for a gay person to have a relationship with a person of the opposite sex. Such a partnership would only result in harm to that person and their partner.
Love is a choice
But it’s not about negatives but to love our neighbour means actively seeking to do them good. We can legislate against stealing , violence and even hate crime but we cannot force people to love one another and seek their good.
Love is a choice. We must choose to love our neighbour. It is a continuous choice. We cannot one day decide to do good to others and rely on that one choice to last indefinitely. Each day we need to make that choice until it becomes a habit and automatic.
Think how different the world would be if all human actions were based on love.
- There would be no war or violence.
- There would be an end to poverty as resources would be shared more equally.
- No more discrimination or fear of minorities or people different to us.
- No more exploitation of the weak or vulnerable.
- A complete lack of fear as we could all be at peace with our neighbours.
- An increase of prosperity for all.
- Money and resources spent on war could be used to minimise natural disasters.
As a Christian I believe this would be the result of the prayer:
“Your kingdom come, your will be done of earth as it is in heaven“Matthew 6:10 NIV
2 thoughts on “Love – the prime directive”
Jesus said that the law was fulfilled by two commandments: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength (the test of that love being obedience) AND loving your neighbour as yourself.
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Quite right Derek but as John says it is easy to say we love God but have no care for those who we see around us.
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