Love wins. These two words have been a source of celebration for many in the hours since the Supreme Court decided to redefine marriage as instituted by God. The trouble with these two words, as they are currently used, is not that the court has redefined marriage; it is that humanity has redefined love.
Jesus gives the commandment that we are to love one another as he loves us (see John 15:12). Our Lord speaks of God’s divine, sacrificial and complete love (agape). We are to love one another as Christ loves us. Jesus also said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (see John 14:21).
In John 21, when Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me (agape) more than these?” Peter responds, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you (philos).” Philos is the love expressed between humans that we know as brotherly love. Such love is compassionate, caring and giving. Twice Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love (agape) me?” Twice Peter responds, “You know that I love (philos) you.” It is the best he can do for he is a sinner. Jesus asks Peter a third time, “Do you love (philos) me?” Our Lord understands Peter’s inability to return his Lord’s agape and so compassionately acknowledges the love he is able to share.
The love deemed by many to be winning is another kind of love. It is a love based on humanity’s definition of sexuality (eros). Eros is an ancient Greek word that is also translated into English as “love.” It is a love of sexual nature, the love given to humans from God which is to be expressed between husband and wife (man and woman) in marriage (see Genesis 2:24). God takes such delight in this love that the blessing of children and family are its fruitfulness.
Throughout time, humanity has corrupted and abused the gift of sexual love in order to suit its own lustful and selfish desires. God’s commandment against adultery supports the sanctity of marriage and sexual love between husband and wife. The apostle Paul warns God’s people about abusing sexual love, declaring it to be sinful not only against God, but as a sin against one’s own body. (ex: 1 Corinthians 6:18). Within the celebrations regarding the redefinition, it is this corrupted notion of sexual love that is claimed to be winning.
The command of Christ remains; we are to love (agape) our neighbor as Christ loves us. This is but one more of God’s commandments we are unable to keep. Our fault; however, does not relieve us from loving our neighbor. As Peter confesses his love (philos) for Jesus, we too must confess and extend such love toward others, without regard for their definition of love. Jesus calls his people to be compassionate, caring and giving towards all people. While speaking the truth of God’s Word, we must continue to speak it in love (philos). All are sinners and fall short of God’s glory, even those who decry the Supreme Court’s decision while standing upon the solid rock of the gospel.
To this end, governments, courts and churches aside, as he gives the Great Commission, our Lord Jesus declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (see Matthew 28:18). Only God has the authority to define that which he has created or instituted. It is the calling of the Church to follow Jesus’ commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Following the commandment of our Lord and Savior, we as the Church must seek God’s help in learning how to show love to our brothers and sisters who desire to live within the worldly definition of love, while teaching all that Christ commands. Certainly, this is a difficult task, but one to which our voices must be raised, and one to which our actions must match the words we say.
As we seek God’s help in all of these, the truth of God’s Word will remain unchangeable. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Because of this, the truth remains. Love Wins.
Grace to you and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila