Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Does the New Testament Say About Love?

Check out today's episode

I have recently finished reading the New Testament and I am collecting my thoughts about what I read in this series of posts. Today I am writing about what the New Testament says about Love. Other entries in this series:
Is God Love?
  1. Slavery
  2. The Apocalypse
  3. Women
  4. Violence
  5. Sexuality
  6. Obedience
  7. Fear
  8. Blasphemy
  9. Wealth
  10. Binary Thinking
  11. Faith
  12. the Afterlife and Free Will
  13. Suffering
  14. Family
  15. Forgiveness
An extremely common thing I hear from Christians is that the bible is all about love. God is love and the bible encourages us to love one another, love your enemies (Matthew 5:44) is very often quoted. It seems that there are a great many such verses, so lets dig in. We can start with verses that simply say that love is a good thing (Romans 12:9-211 Corinthians 13:1-3Galatians 5:22-23Ephesians 4:1-2Philippians 1:9Colossians 3:12-151 Timothy 6:11Titus 2:22 Timothy 2:221 Peter 3:8-9Revelation 2:19) and that we should love one another (John 13:34Romans 13:9Galatians 5:14James 2:81 John 3:17). 1 Timothy 1:5 tells us that loves comes from a pure heart and good conscience, I'm not sure about that, but it sounds nice. 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that love can repair rifts caused by sin, that also sound nice. Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to use Jesus as an example to love one another, and 1 John 3:18 takes things a step farther and tells us that talk is cheap and that we should show love with our actions. This is probably the best we have seen so far, it is a shame it is not a more common message, I'm guessing that many Christians would argue that this is implied with the rest of the verses. I disagree with that assessment (it should be explicit more often) but I'm glad that it is their takeaway.

We now have a great many verses that tell us that love is good and that we should love one another. This is good, but it isn't the whole story. 2 John 5,10-11 give us 2 sides of the same coin, while verse 5 says we should love one another, verse 10-11 says that we should turn away anyone who doesn't agree with your religious ideas. This certainly doesn't seem very loving to me at all. Furthermore, in Hebrews 8:9 we see this same attitude from God himself, he has no concern for people who didn't keep his covenant, certainly he doesn't love them right? If he's not even concerned with them he doesn't love them.

But that is just the beginning, if we look at some of the other things from the New Testament we can see plenty of examples that don't really demonstrate this love. Just look at my articles on slavery and women, the way we are instructed to act towards slaves and women in the bible does not sound like love to me. We are supposed to lead people with fear, and the people are supposed to obey. It's very important for people to suffer, and if your family doesn't agree with you about religion you are supposed to ditch them. None of this stuff sound loving to me. What if we look at God himself? He's violent, if you don't follow him he'll torture you for all of eternity, and yet sometimes he will remove your free will and not even allow you to follow him. He wants you to follow him without good reason, and if you say something bad about him he will never forgive you for it. Is the God of described in the New Testament a God of love? I would say no. He tells us he is a God of love, but he shows us that he is a monster.


  1. When I think of "love", I think of intrinsically valuing another person as a human being and caring about their well-being. The Biblical God doesn't do either with much consistency. When he does look out for people's well-being, it's always with strings attached (i.e., the Covenant with the chosen people), so it isn't love so much as quid pro quo.

  2. Yeah, it would be easier to believe in a God of love if all of that non-loving stuff was not in there! :-) But given that people version of God is often a reflection of themselves, usually the people who really emphasize the love thing are the nicest types of Christians. Meanwhile, those who do mere lip-service to the concept gravitate to the punishment and judgement verses.

  3. Ahab, totally agree, if what you call love comes with a bunch of strings attached it really isn't love at all. I would go as far as saying the fact that he keeps saying it is love is suspicious. Why would he feel the need to constantly tell people he loves them while asking for things from them?

    TWF, that's a good point as well. In fact, that is the main problem with all of the contradictions in the bible. Since it says everything, it says nothing. Whatever you want to find in there, you can find somewhere, so what you find and focus on is really just a reflection of yourself.

  4. I guess sometimes love don't feel like it should.

    1. that sounds like a song lyric I don't recognize :)

  5. Every time I read any verse from the Bible I have to wonder how the ancient man who wrote it was feeling at the time he wrote it. Quite obviously some knew what love was and some were more concerned with hate. I think Jesus did know what love and peace were supposed to be...but I also think those who wrote what they thought he thought were just as diverse in their thinking as folks are these days.

    1. This is one of those places where whether or not the explanation is acceptable is dependent on your view of the bible. I imagine those who think it is the written word of God would not be satisfied (I grew up in that environment). However, it seems like a good explanation for people who think it was divinely inspired but ultimately human written.

    2. I grew up Catholic where no one was encouraged to read the bible...but to only listen to the excepts of the "gospels" as delivered by the individual priest who gave the sermon and taught us catholicism. Some were inspired with genuine love and peace in their hearts...some were not. I feel the same way about those that wrote the Bible and have never believed God "wrote" any of it. Only by ancient men who were inspired by who they thought God was. I decided long ago I could not worship that wrathful Biblical God.

    3. That's interesting that the didn't tell people to read the bible, in my church they told everyone they should be reading the bible, I remember it would come up frequently in the sunday sermon. I never read it, and I don't think almost anyone else did either, must have been reverse psychology.

  6. We are easily deceived & distracted. The love AND law of God is in the heart of EVERYONE & we have free will to receive or deny Him (good & evil/right & wrong). Sometimes suffering is the only way our stubborn relentless hearts will learn. Like children, we are always learning, too. Do we ever really stop being children? No. We're just older, but still learning. Individual pride is NOT the standard (everyone has an opinion or preference). Whose is right? God's is. Who are we to say our way is right? Look around. We make a mess unless He's leading. When we get sick of our same wrong standard (suffering & disappointment), eventually we go totally sour or ask for God's help (through Jesus is the only way to be born again & transformed). This actually happened to me & not by way of "religion" or ritual, but if surrender & admitting I was wrong without Him. He heard me & honored the surrender. He showed Himself (Jesus) & the Holy Spirit washed over me (I actually felt it) as Scripture I've since studied promises will occur when asked. The Bible is 100% God written & inerrant. It's all context. We are like children who don't want to listen & do what we're told for our own good. If God blesses us while we're in disobedience & danger, He would not be showing love, but condoning us doing the wrong thing; thus leading us to death & suffering. Make sense? You know it does if you have any humility or wisdom at all. He loves us, left us His Word (READ IT! & you'll SEE), & paid for those who will choose to receive. You can't belong to the world AND belong to God. We can't have two masters. It's simply insane nonsense. All I know is that Jesus saved me when I asked Him (after turning away from & hating my sin; I was sick of it!) I was born again & life is easy & beautiful with Him! Is it perfect? No. I'm still in this crazy world with people who are denying & running from Him. However, His peace is like nothing else (I mean nothing! I was gasping in awe & amazement! He is love & beauty like we can't comprehend in this corrupt world. This is NOT our home & the enemy doesn't want you to know who you are or your Maker. Why? Because then you'll know what you have waiting for you & won't waste your time with all the garbage & distraction (ripping off your inheritance) anymore. Sin keeps us from the Bible (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) & the Bible keeps us from sin. Read & ask Him to show you the Truth & you will SEE.He is good & pure love. If we don't change (we have to ask Him to because He doesn't force us; love can't be forced), then we would corrupt Heaven, too. It would be like this place (we've been polluting & corrupting this place for thousands of years with our free will). God won't be allowing that in His Kingdom. This IS our chance. The change happens here! So we can enter with Him. Believe & receive the Truth instead of living a lie in suffering. What do you have to lose? We don't die. We just go to one place or the other. We are spirits/souls/hearts (not blood pumping organ, but core of our being; individual personality/free will) restrained (temporarily) by flesh. Don't give up all you have waiting for eternity for temporary worldly things that will vanish. Be awakened in Jesus's name. He loves us! Read the Bible. Focus New Testament love, not Old Testament rules; we don't like fingers shaking in our faces (OT), but we love efforts made for our good! Jesus sacrificed & paid for all!! Thank & follow Him! If you want to be free & ask Jesus, He will save you! He doesn't love me more than you! Remember, sin separates us from God. Identify the sin & turn from it. It enslaves us, rules us as long as we allow/choose it! Identify the stupid sin & recognize how it binds you.

  7. ...Continued

    Hate the sin because it robs you & ask Jesus to deliver you from it! He did it for me as I turn & asked, one thing at a time (problems as I admitted they were; as I learned). He honors good & righteousness. He will! Believe the Truth, not the lie. He loves us!!!

    Choose peace, prayer & blessings in His love always,
    Shelley }|{

    1. "The Bible is 100% God written & inerrant."

      No Shelley...the Bible is 100% man written and extremely errant to portray a Supreme Creator as wrathful, evil, and as judgmental as it does, one who would create a hell and devil to punish us for our sins at the same time claiming Jesus died on a cross to "save" us from our sins

      Moses broke the sixth commandment over 10,000 times shortly after he claimed "God" wrote "thou shalt no kill" in stone and that kind of judgmental wrath is still the biggest problem on earth today as it has been the last two thousand years and prior.

      Religion, not a Supreme Creator, has been the curse of the earth ever since the Bible was written...and that was way before "God" was even a word. The word itself is actually of Pagan origin, from early Hindu scripts, and is not even mentioned in early scriptures the much edited and translated Bible today is comprised of.

      Anyone who stops committing what they consider to be a sin should feel better about it, but you should give yourself credit and not radically proclaim it's the only way others should act. I suggest you do a little more research on what you profess to believe...and may blessings be with you. It took me over 40 years but was well worth the effort.

    2. But READ it, and you'll SEE!! Yep, capslock always convinces me.

  8. Hello Shelley,

    thanks for dropping by. That's quite a big wall of text and a bit all over the place, so please forgive me for not addressing all of it. There was one thing in the middle that jumped out at me though

    "He loves us, left us His Word (READ IT! & you'll SEE)"

    If you'll notice, that's exactly what I'm doing. I read the new testament last year, and I'm nearing the end of Genesis right now. I'm sure I'm somewhat biased, but I do try to read in as fair of a fashion as possible. I don't see a wholly loving God here. Sure, there are some passages about love as I pointed out in the article, which is a good thing. And yet, there are so many other passages about violence, vengeance, slavery, and fear. I have a hard time seeing a justification that this comes from an all-loving god.


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