KINDS OF LOVE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I suppose love is one of the most common words in the English language, and it certainly is employed on several occasions in the New Testament. When one begins to analyze what the term means, as well as how the word is used today, it soon becomes clear that there are many kinds of love, ranging from God’s love for us and our love for God all the way down to the lowest forms of lust and perversion.
KINDS OF LOVE
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)
Last Tuesday night I was preparing for the Bible study. I knew God wanted me to impress on the group the importance of abiding in Christ. There are troublous times ahead; and mere membership in the Christian religion will not suffice if we are to survive, and to help others to survive and come to know the Lord, during these darkest of hours.
As I was reflecting on the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, I paused to consider the passage above. I mused: “What does it mean for us to remain in Christ’s love, and what does it mean for Christ to remain in His Father’s love?”
Precisely what is love, and how is love related to obeying commands?
I think confusion arises because we associate love with feelings, with emotions, rather than with actions.
As I got up this morning (was resurrected in my elderly state) the concept of “love” (and of lust, which is different), how “love” is used in the Scriptures, and how we use “love” today, came to mind. I began to realize there are numerous elements involved in this fundamental relationship. I am not sure I can capture all the concepts and nuances, but I will set forth what is clear to me at this time.
The first and highest form of love is God’s love for Christ, and then for us and for all others of His creatures.
What is the nature of this love? Are there feelings involved or is God’s love a rational act of His will?
I think there are feelings involved as well as rational decisions, the feeling of a parent for his or her offspring. God’s love is a selfless, sacrificial form of love in which the well-being of the recipient is considered and protected. It would be like the love of a mother or father. All of us who are parents are aware of the feelings involved.
Our will also is involved, because we have a responsibility for our children. If their behavior is such that we no longer feel affection for them, we still are responsible for their actions until they are mature adults. Then they are on their own.
The term “God’s unconditional love” is heard today. This is not scriptural. God’s love is vast, without doubt. But as our verse tells us, our remaining in Christ’s love depends on our obeying His commands. Also, Christ remaining in His Father’s love depends on His obeying His Father’s commands.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)
There is no love for God apart from obedience to God.
So it is with us. When our children come to maturity and despise our desires, then they do not remain in our love. Of course, if they repent, and return to our house, so to speak, we are overjoyed that our son or daughter has come home. God and we are always hoping such repentance will take place.
Does God love Satan, who is God’s creation? Does God love those who have refused to be corrected and are in the Lake of Fire? Does God feel affection toward them? Is He still concerned about their welfare? I rather doubt it. So it is true of us that a son or daughter who steadfastly refuses to be part of our way of life, spurning our God and our values, no longer is a son or daughter. He or she has set his or her own course in the universe—a course we will never be part of.
There is a soft, indulgent attitude toward our offspring that is not of God. It is of the fallen nature. It probably does more harm than good to those whom we supposedly love, enabling our children to behave in a destructive manner. This appears to be true of Eli, the priest, who honored his sons above God.
Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel? (I Samuel 2:29)
We might mention also that sometimes parents worship their children. It may be true that the love the parent thinks he has for his child is really self-love. He wants the child to love him. Because of this he does not discipline his child adequately, or may permit the child to do or possess something that is dangerous. In this instance it is obvious he does not love his child, he loves himself and wants the child to love him.
God is never guilty of this sort of human love.
When Peter exhorted the Lord not to go to Jerusalem, Christ correctly identified the true author of this sentimental behavior. Human love can be an expression of Satan.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22,23)
Next we come to our love for Christ and for God.
Our love for God and for Christ may be more of a duty, at least at first, then it is an affection. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments.
“Peter, do you love Me?”
Man was made with a need for a god. We will worship and cleave to someone or something, or to some situation. We will look to our god to satisfy our need for security and survival, for pleasure, and for achievement.
As we worship and adore the god we have chosen we will behave in the manner our god desires. The behavior of people reveals the nature of the god they have chosen.
In our day the Muslim scholars have decreed, or so it has been reported in the newspaper, that the Koran endorses suicide bombing. (I find it difficult to believe all Muslims believe this!) If Allah indeed endorses the murder of people, then this tells us something about Allah. In this case we would know beyond doubt that Allah is not the God of Heaven, because human instinct informs us that God is loving and righteous.
But religion has a way of taking precedence over conscience and common sense. I know Arabs, like all other people, have their strengths and their weaknesses. I know they have common sense and a conscience like all other people. I conclude from this that their religious leaders, like the religious leaders of all religions, including Christianity, sometimes defy conscience and common sense—as in the case of the Catholic prelates who tortured and murdered dissidents, for example.
The true character of the god we worship, whether the God of Heaven, or money, or some person, or ourselves, is revealed in our behavior.
If we love the God of Heaven, and Christ Jesus His Son, then we will reveal truth and righteousness in our behavior. We will keep Christ’s commandments.
If we love Christ we will feed His sheep, according to the gifts given to us. Love, therefore, is a matter of our will. We choose to serve our God. We choose to do what He requires.
Do we then feel affection for God? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Affection is not the issue. The issue is whether we do what our God desires.
The Father has love for Christ and for us. We remain in His love as we keep His commandments.
We love the Father and Christ. Therefore we do what they desire. Do we have affection for them? Perhaps, and probably will have to a much greater extent when the Kingdom comes to the earth. But our worship and adoration are expressed in our behavior. We cleave to Them and Their ways. We interact with Them continually throughout the day and night. They are first in all our thoughts. This is what it means to love the Father and Christ. Thus we remain in Their love.
Then we might think about love for our fellow Christians and for all people.
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (I John 3:11)
There are several aspects of our love for other people. We are to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. We will never be able to love our neighbor as ourselves until we love God with all our heart.
This is the key—to love our neighbor as ourselves. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Loving our neighbor is not an issue of a feeling, it is one of a willingness on our part to treat others in a constructive manner. Sometimes we are to be friendly; however, to be friendly is not always appropriate. Sometimes we are to demonstrate affection, sometimes not.
Sometimes we are to be loyal and faithful; on other occasions we are to be cunning, wise as a serpent. But we are to remain children in malice.
Sometimes it is appropriate to be angry, but we never are to conclude the day without going to the Lord and regaining our peace.
In every instance we are to treat the other person in as helpful a manner as possible, just as we would have that individual treat us.
We are not to curse and threaten other people, regarding them as our enemies. Satan is our enemy, not people. We are to bear as patiently as we can with those who are perverse and unloving, remembering that the Lord Jesus Christ will avenge us at His appearing.
We must overcome evil with Divine good, never harboring unforgiveness or bitterness in our heart. With man this is impossible; but through the Virtue that is in the Lord Jesus Christ we can regain our peace. God will not forgive our evil if we do not forgive others.
One of Satan’s primary tasks is to create division in the Body of Christ. He is very successful in his efforts. We can and we must emerge victorious in this battle, rising above the evil and perversity that attack us and maintaining our position in Christ at the right hand of God.
So the key to relating with people is doing that which is constructive and helpful as we are able, whether we feel affection toward them or not, and leaving the rest with God.
Within the family there are various sorts of love. I have mentioned parental love. There is the affection of children toward their parents. Such affection is meaningless unless the children obey their parents and do what is required of them.
There is the love of husband for wife, which is a mixture of the reproductive urge and friendship. The successful marriage is one in which there is mutual friendship and respect between man and wife.
Love between male and female has many aspects.
There is an idealistic love, which is a form of worship. In America a great emphasis is placed on romantic love. Romantic love, no matter how lofty, is sexual attraction—although sometimes masquerading as something more elevated.
We must remember that romantic love is not of God, it is purely of the adamic nature. It is fragile, depending on our mood, and definitely is not a basis for marriage. Marriage is a practical business in which two self-willed people learn to compromise their own desires so they can live together and raise children in righteousness, peace, and joy.
There is an example in the Bible of romantic love. It had to do with a son and daughter of King David.
In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. Amnon became frustrated to the point of illness on account of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her. Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (II Samuel 13:1-4)
“I’m in love with Tamar.” Nonsense! He lusted after Tamar, as the subsequent events demonstrate.
What is meant by the expression “I’m in love”? Today in America we treat this condition as though it were something meaningful and significant. It is not. It is a “crush,” or infatuation. It is sexual in nature no matter how disguised. I repeat: it is not a basis for marriage.
One thing led to another and Amnon raped Tamar. She was a sweet, sensible girl. She told Amnon not to be so foolish, that David would consent to their marriage.
After Amnon had satisfied his passions, he immediately hated Tamar and drove her from him. She protested, telling Amnon that driving her away was worse than raping her in the first place.
Now, in America we would say what a wonderful thing that Amnon was “in love” with Tamar. The events proved it was not love, unless our definition of love is a delicious feeling, focused on ourselves.
At no time did Amnon love Tamar. He did not care for her. He never considered her feelings. He did not take the time to woo her. He would not have sacrificed himself for her. He was consumed with a delicious feeling, and with a lust he desired to gratify. Tamar was grieving as she left Amnon, her life ruined.
Tamar’s brother Absalom murdered Amnon, as well he should have, according to the code of those days. As far as I know, the Bible says no more about Tamar. Tamar was a lovely, sensible girl. Absalom named his daughter after her.
Tamar suffered a grievous wrong at the hand of Amnon, who was “in love” with her. This is romantic love. It is adamic. It can turn to hate in a moment because it is a creature of the emotions and the glands.
Although romantic love is worshiped in America, it is not of God. The marriages arranged by the parents in Eastern countries also are flawed, but they probably have as much chance of being successful as does the American marriage based on selfish, self-centered romantic love.
So much for love. Let us now consider lust. In America no difference is made between love and lust. However, there is a significant difference between the two.
Lust is defined as unrestrained or intense sexual craving. I am by no means an endocrinologist, but I am under the impression sexual craving is a function of our glands. Like the appetite for food, the sex glands require satisfaction from time to time.
God has placed in the human body a strong urge for sexual intercourse. Its purpose is to ensure that people will continue to produce children. Then God will build the people who are born into an eternal kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
“Marriage is honorable and all, and the bed undefiled.” In marriage there is a purpose in sexual interaction. There also is a caring, often sacrificial, love, friendship, and loyalty that accompany the sex act.
Whenever there is no strong government to enforce morality, as is true in America today. sexual activity of all sorts is practiced. However, these practices are not accompanied by caring, by friendship, or by loyalty. Neither are they dedicated to the bringing forth of children. They are indulged for their own sake, for the pleasure they give.
This concept of sexual activity apart a caring love, apart from the birth of children, is accepted in America at the present time. Therefore America, as is true of every nation of history that worshiped the sex drive, is heading toward severe chastening at the hand of God.
I am writing this on May first, 2002. Those who read my words in the coming years can judge whether America indeed was chastened severely, as I have predicted.
Adultery is practiced commonly. Husbands and wives are not satisfied with their own mates and have sexual relations with someone else’s husband or wife.
Also, there is fornication. Fornication, and people living together apart from legally sanctioned marriage, permit sexual activity apart from caring, loyal relationships. The two people need each other so they can satisfy their glandular appetites. They are not willing to commit themselves to the responsibilities of marriage. They are selfish and self-centered. There is little of true worth in such a relationship, and how much genuine caring is involved is questionable.
Sometimes incest within the family is practiced. No good will come from this. It is confusion. There is no thought of the consequences. It is irrational behavior proceeding from the determination of the participants to feel good.
With the advent of the Internet has come a tremendous increase of available pornography. Of all the futile, impotent, worthless, foolish practices in which one can participate, poring over pornographic material has got to head the list. Nothing whatever is accomplished except the stimulation of one’s glands. The female (male, in some cases) body is regarded as an object of lust. No consideration is given to the character of the person so viewed, only the reproductive organs. One might as well reflect on the reproductive organs of a cow, since nothing but the fleshly characteristics are considered.
The Christian is invited to meditate in the Word of God by day and by night. He or she is exhorted to pray without ceasing. We are to redeem the time. For the Christian then to spend the flying minutes stimulating his glands is absolutely forbidden; absolutely destructive. Yet we hear that there are supposedly Christian people and leaders who spend time viewing pornographic material.
The viewing of pornography is not love by any means, it is a morally filthy practice with no redeeming value. It produces nothing of worth to the Kingdom of God.
We come now to pedophilia. Pedophiliac behavior comes under the category of “vile” behavior. Pedophiles, those who practice sexual intimacy with children are heading toward the Lake of Fire.
How can pedophilia be termed love? The idea that the child is a consenting participant is ridiculous. My experience as a pastor reveals that the child on becoming an adult suffers greatly from having been molested. Children are not able to make these decisions. Whoever would take advantage of their innocence deserves eternal incarceration in the Lake of Fire.
Homosexuality is honored in America, as though it were some new kind of relationship. The truth is, homosexuality goes back to Sodom and Gomorrah, and probably before that. Homosexual activity does not produce children. How can it be acceptable? It is unnatural, a satisfying of glandular lust apart from the normal relationship of man and woman.
God will never accept homosexual activity. It is condemned in the Old Testament and in the New as well. God is able to deliver homosexuals from their chains, and will do so gladly. But even though every person in America became a homosexual, it still would be an unnatural, unscriptural, unproductive, reprehensible form of sexual activity.
The so-called man-boy love is nothing more than men seeking to satisfy their lusts. The boy is innocent and defenseless. It is not true that he ever could be a consenting partner. He is attempting to please someone older and supposedly wiser.
When the boy comes of age, as we see today in the imbroglio surrounding the Catholic churches, he realizes he was violated. He is ashamed and furious. It appears many millions of dollars will flow from the Catholic churches as these victims seek redress in the American courts.
There are other forms of sexual perversion, including sadomasochism and bestiality. These, along with homosexual activity and pornography, are purely satanic. How could they be anything else?
It may be noted that in the several aberrations we have mentioned, the purpose is to derive pleasure from glandular excitement and activity. There is little or no thought of the welfare of the other person, only the satisfying of one’s own urges. In actuality, the only form of sexual activity that can be termed “love” is that between man and wife in legally sanctioned marriage.
The main purpose of sexual activity is not pleasure, it is the bringing forth of children—the future heirs of the eternal Kingdom of God. It is permissible and reasonable for married people to indulge in sexual activity and still employ contraceptive devices. This is because, in America at least, there is constant exposure to that which promotes sexual desire. This is why the Apostle Paul stated it is better to marry than to burn. Since our nation is sick with sexual lust, the Christian must take advantage of the natural means God has provided to deal with human passion—namely, legally sanctioned marriage.
We can see among the Catholic priests in America the tremendous strain under which young priests minister. Their passions, being restrained by their laws of ordination, break out in illegal, destructive behavior. This is such a shame because without doubt most or all of these young men entered the priesthood because of a sincere desire to serve God. If they had little boys and girls of their own it is likely they would not be tempted to molest children, although many parents of our day molest their own children.
We see, then, that there is love that is rational and constructive, that operates as we keep God’s commandments; as we feed Christ’s sheep; as we give of ourselves sacrificially in order to benefit someone else; as we forgive those who sin against us; as we deny ourselves in order that our marriage may remain intact; as we choose to look at the good side of people and pray about those areas of behavior in which they have need of Christ. It is to this kind of behavior that the Lord was referring when He commanded us to love one another.
Then there are the various feelings that we consider to be love. These range from the desire to nourish and protect someone down to the raw, bestial lusts of our glands. In between there are friendship, the desire and willingness to please the other person, empathy, the desire to possess or even control the object of our affection, romantic love including the “crush” and infatuation, loyalty, and admiration.
Our adamic nature can choose to love. We can choose to act in a constructive manner; to forgive our enemies; to refrain from indulging our lusts when due consideration has not been given to the consequences. We do not abandon our wife or husband and take up with a youngster of high school age when we know several people will be harmed by our actions—including the young person. We can choose to behave such that people are helped and brought to peace and joy.
We can do this if we will keep praying and asking the Lord’s help. We can demonstrate love in this manner without necessarily experiencing any kind of emotional pleasure.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” “If you love Me, feed My sheep.”
In other words, no matter how you “feel” toward Me, or toward your neighbor, act with integrity, fairness, and kindness toward us. In this way you are showing love toward us even though you may not feel any emotional involvement. Such rational behavior is acceptable to God as being genuine love.
As we abide in Christ, Divine love begins to be formed in us. Divine love is the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the Christian. It is born and developed in the Christian, but it comes from God in Heaven. Love, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is not a refining of the adamic nature. Divine love is supernatural in essence and forever different from human love.
God’s love is eternal. It is not moved by circumstances. It holds on steadfastly, overcoming all evil. All else shall pass away, but God’s love will endure forever.
As I said, we are to choose to imitate those actions that are part of love. But then the day of maturity arrives and God’s love becomes part of our personality. This is the natural result of abiding in Christ.
When that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. What is “in part” is all the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. Gifts and ministries are scaffolding. The building is love. God is love, and whoever dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.
The supreme end of the creation of God is joy. Love is the most important component of joy. Along with joy and love are righteousness, holiness, peace, and obedience to God. All these are essential components of the fruit that comes forth in our life as we abide in Christ. These are the virtues for which the heavenly Farmer is looking. When we do not bear these after a season, God may remove us from the Vine, from Christ.
In America of today there is much talk about love, both in the churches and in the secular realm. But most of such exhortation is impotent. This is because genuine love is seldom found in the natural man. The adamic man may try to show love and be good to others, but he is easily offended. The slightest negative incident will put him in a bad mood. Then he is not able to demonstrate love.
If we are to have love for God and love for people we must do those things that constitute love, whether we feel like it or not. Good feelings may be part of our love, but are not essential.
Love is not how the other person makes us feel, it is how we behave toward that individual. Amnon thought he was in love with Tamar. He was deceived. Without doubt Tamar was beautiful and of good character. She was worthy of Amnon’s love.
Amnon did not love her. He wanted to possess and control her. Amnon could not have cared less about Tamar’s welfare. Amnon’s “love” originated in his glands. Once his glands were satisfied Amnon wanted to get rid of Tamar. She was an inconvenience to him. Poor Tamar!
And so it is today in America. After people have satisfied their lusts they do not care what happens to the other person. Hollywood, today’s most prominent proponent of the value of romantic love, appears to know nothing whatever of what constitutes love. But the delusion continues and American people are persuaded romantic love is of eternal value.
It is not easy in America of today to escape the pull of the flesh and to set ourselves to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. It is not easy to maintain iron discipline over our bodily cravings so our conduct builds up other people and makes it possible for them to find peace and joy. But this we absolutely must do if we are to please our Father in Heaven.
As I consider the things I have seen in life I think it may be true that God put such a powerful urge in us, in the form of glandular passion, to test us; to see if we will choose righteousness even though we are sorely tempted to satisfy our cravings. Stern obedience to God and self-control are required of every member of the royal priesthood.
I expect we will never get another chance in all of eternity to demonstrate that our soul is strong enough to turn away from pleasure that is not being given to us by the Lord.
We must never, never, never gain joy at the expense of someone else. It is best that we never have joy until first everyone who depends on us is satisfied. Then, when we come to joy, our joy is not accompanied by another person’s grief. I think this rule is highly esteemed by the Lord. This ideal cannot always be realized, however.
It is most important that God is served. It is most important that Christ is served. After their needs have been met, we must make certain whatever gifts we have been given wherewith to assist other people have been utilized with all diligence. When all these needs have been met, then we are ready to receive joy from the hand of God.
Let us then love God and our neighbor, not just in sentiment, but in practical ways that help them make their way through life successfully. This we can do, with the Lord’s help, until that which is perfect has come and we find God’s love for His creatures flowing through us in the channels God has ordained.
(“Kinds of Love”, 3621-1)