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?|
- The Apocalypse
- Binary Thinking
- the Afterlife and Free Will
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 12:9-21, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:1-2, Philippians 1:9, Colossians 3:12-15, 1 Timothy 6:11, Titus 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Revelation 2:19) and that we should love one another (John 13:34, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, 1 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.