Josh Guthrie is the Student Pastor and Middle School Minister at Brookwood Baptist Church.
Love… it’s a very loaded word. We cram so much into these few letters. When I was young, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A little later in my youth my love turned toward the girl who lived down the street, though she never knew it. In my teen years I fell in love with a four-piece rock band from Ireland, a love that was admittedly obsessive.
In college I fell in love with a girl that my roommate also was infatuated with. I pursued a relationship with this girl anyway. Nearly a decade later we are still together and have two beautiful baby girls to show for it. Clearly my ability for affection evolved through the years, but still the one word remains to describe it all. Love.
We associate an entire spectrum of meaning with this simple word, and based on our experience this may be good or bad. We can associate love with a beautiful relationship, but it can also have been the word used by an abusive father. It could have been the commitment made by a spouse who later was unfaithful. We all have baggage when it comes to love.
There really is nothing simple about it at all. There is far more here than can be contained in four letters. And honestly, this word should not be responsible for all the things we blame on it. We really are confused when we attribute the same word we use for action figures to a spouse. The bottom line is that love is often misused, and should not be held accountable for our negligence.
This is largely the problem with the mainstream Christian voice in the debate on gay marriage. People wanting to set the limits on love push their agenda without actually doing so in a loving way. At this point, who is right and who is wrong does not really matter because we’ve lost sight of what matters most -- love. Real love must be loving. Anyone who claims to speak for God but does so without love is just blaring useless noise (see 1 Corinthians 13).
In this season of chocolates, roses, and little pink and red hearts, let’s re-evaluate love. If you have love, as you’re buying those roses, remember what they truly stand for. Remember the indefinable joy and beauty that is your relationship, and when you say those three words, really soak in what they mean.
Perhaps you’ve given up on love and decided that it is full of pain, hate, and not beauty. May you see that what you thought was love might not actually be. May you open yourself up once again to the possibility that love is real and that it really is loving.
Finally, know that God is not the off-putting, hateful, angry old man he is made out to be. He is true love and that is truly good news.
-- Josh Guthrie, Student Pastor and Middle School Minister, Brookwood Baptist Church