love is as love does

“Love is as love does.” – M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Not everything we do is loving. When we evaluate our actions, speech, and even thoughts, how do we decide whether they were loving or not? I experienced a couple of instances recently where people said and did things that were very unloving, yet in both cases the person claimed they were saying and doing such unloving things because they loved the target of their speech and action. The details aren’t important for my point here. Suffice it to say, both were of the ‘if you love someone you have to tell them how wrong they are, how they are going to hell, and then you have to shun them’ approach you are probably already familiar with if you know any religious extremists and/or you spend any time at all reading social media.

So if you love someone you have to say hateful things to them? And/or not speak to them? Actively shun them? Really? Love leads you to act in very unloving ways?

How bizarre.

It sure would make more sense if love caused you to act in loving ways. It would seem, in fact, that love is as love does, that consistent action and speech that is unloving indicates the person does not love the one who is the target of their ‘love.’

David Hayward (@nakedpastor) said recently: “Some use the text [i.e., Scripture] to figure out what love means. Others use love to figure out what the text means. Totally different outcomes.”

If you don’t begin with love, you wind up in a place where love itself gets redefined as something monstrously other than what love actually is; ‘love’ comes to name the exact opposite of love. If what we think is love provokes us to do hateful things then we need to reevaluate everything.

God is love. Everyone who loves participates in the life of God. Not by mere invocation – ‘love’ is not a magic word – but by the quality of the action. In other words, when we do loving things, we do them in the power of God’s Spirit. But when we do unloving things we move away from there, no longer participating in the life of God. Our action becomes resistance to God’s love and life.

Unloving acts don’t come from love, they don’t facilitate love, and they do not lead to loving conclusions. The ends never justify the means. The means always determine the sort of ends we get. Speech and actions that are loving lead to love. Those that are unloving lead to unlove.

To put it more bluntly, people like the Westboro Baptists, Mark Driscoll, and everyone who had a hissy on social media about the Grammys say and do some very unloving stuff. They don’t get to turn around and call that stuff an expression of love. Love can’t be expressed in unloving ways. Doesn’t work.

Speaking of the Grammys, I will get into that more on Wednesday.