Why Do We Love?Posted: March 27, 2008
I was listening to a recent podcast by Ravi Zacharias entitled, Creedal Affirmation in Search of Commitment, and in this sermon, Ravi was getting to the point of answering why the Scriptures are necessary and why we need doctrine and teaching of God’s word. He begins with this mind-blowing quote from a secular journalist who wrote an article titled, Who Cares if Christ is Risen?
But what is true at this time in our history is that we are moving into uncharted territory. Since the French revolution, many influential intellectuals have rejected religion. But it is only now that religious ideas are ceasing to underpin general morality. Because these ideas have prevailed for so long, people tend to assume that the morality which goes with them is somehow obvious and commonsensical and will continue. “Love thy neighbor as thy self” is widely believed to be a moral imperative which everyone can accept and try to follow without religious faith as if it were a belief which came naturally to man. But this is a terrible error. No moral doctrine comes naturally. As the derivation of the word “doctrine” implies it has to be taught. It can only be taught if enough people understand the theories on which it rests and have the means of instilling their consequences into the popular mind. We have entered a period in which this is no longer so and we are beginning to see the results.
Most of those who fight to stop hunts killing foxes would think nothing of having abortions. If members of the Animal Liberation Front had been in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday they would have been far too worried about the fate of the donkey, on which Christ entered Jerusalem, to mind that He was being crucified before their eyes. With this loss of a truly human morality comes paradoxically a greater emphasis on the importance of human gratification. As human beings no longer believe that they have a unique standing in the order of divine creation, they turn inwards. The great modern crime is to prevent people doing whatever it is they want to do. On the right this tends to mean complete freedom to make and sell whatever people want to buy. On the left it tends to mean giving government money to anyone who asks for it and arguing that any sexual taste or way of life is equally valid. Being yourself is the thing to be. As if your self was automatically interesting and good. The consequence is that what was once called selfishness is now called fulfillment. The word love is used just as much as it ever was, but it means something else. For a Christian the measure of love is what one is willing to give up for it. For the post-Christian love is the most exciting state of the ego. The social consequences are more greed, more crime, more family breakdown, and more violence and an extreme restlessness which makes contentment almost as outdated a word as Crenalin. And although many non-believers dislike these trends just as much as Christians, they are almost powerless to do anything about them. For religion has an extraordinary and unique capacity to keep sublime concepts of beauty and truth and the principals of conduct derived from them in the minds of ordinary people. Without religion few know what to think and into the vacuum created for superstition, fanaticism, and pure brutishness. To all of this the atheist will answer, “You may be right about the social consequences about the loss of faith, but that is simply the pain that results from people discovering they’ve been living a lie. Our duty is to develop a new way of living based on the truth” This may be an honorable position, but another possibility presents itself. It is that our moral beliefs will decay if they are cut off from their source, just as a stream will become a stagnant pool if it is no longer fed by its spring. And that this is what is happening in the West today. The injunction to “love thy neighbor” is not a statement of the obvious, it is a commandment and one which only makes sense because it flows from the first commandment, “love thy God”. We must obey it because it is true and we know it is true because of the event which this day, Easter, commemorates.
Isn’t it completely insightful of our generation? We are so caught up on doing what is “right”. We have more humanitarian groups and more justice organizations than we’ve ever had before. More movies are being made to bring to light social injustices than ever before. More celebrities are linking up with social awareness groups and more “good” is being done in this world (most of us have facebook groups to prove it). It’s all for a great cause and I see that we’re all wanting to take part in this movement to make a difference in this world and do something “right” for a change. But I ask, where does it all come from?
“Ethics is not self-evident, let’s stop fooling ourselves,” says Ravi. Their is no morality as we know it without ultimately pointing to God, who is good, fair, and just. And this is why we need the Word of God. We must recognize that all our human endeavors to “love thy neighbor” flow from a doctrine which is eternally true, “love thy God”. A morality that is self-evident will ultimately contradict itself, because the same person that cares for the dying polar bears in the Antarctic, will often neglect the hurting brother within their own home. The moral imperative stems from the eternal indicative that God is good, therefore we are to be good and do good unto others. As the above writer mentions the moral stream of our beliefs must always be fed by the greatest moral spring, namely God.
We love simply because God is love.