Friday, October 9, 2009

God is Love? pt. 2

This is the second part, and you really should read the first. I'm deconstructing an argument from its first premise, so go read that post, and I'll wait for you.


Okay, let's get started.
God is Love: How Should we Define Love?
When the Scriptures say, "God is love," they aren't telling us that God is some nebulous, warm fuzzy feeling of love. The writers who penned the scriptures weren't saying that in our limited form of human love we will find God. Not at all -- in fact, when we read that God is love in the Bible, this means that God defines love. And when we say that God defines love, we don't mean that He defines it like Webster might define something -- we mean that God is the very definition of love itself. There is no such thing as love without God. As hard as we might try, we cannot define love outside of knowing God. This essentially means that our human definition of love is false.
I knew it, I knew it! I told you this author didn't actually accept the definition of love from the dictionary. And, oddly enough, I feel the need to define the word "define" for this author. So, from
  1. to state or set forth the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)
  2. to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of
  3. to fix or lay down definitely; specify distinctly
Our author has failed to do all three of these things, regarding love. The definition "intense affection based on familial or personal ties" has been misconstrued repeatedly - as physical or sexual attraction, as a choice to be committed to your word, as being based on feelings and emotions (rather than familial or personal ties), as being self-serving in nature, and as being a "nebulous, warm fuzzy feeling." Yet s/he has not stated or set forth an alternate meaning (s/he acted as though this straw man was the dictionary definition); has yet to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of love; and has failed to fix or lay down definitely, or to specify distinctly (or even vaguely) what love is. To then say "God defines love" tells us what love is (or God is) no better than the statement "God defines pancakes" because "love" has now been stripped of all meaning. (I've gotta quit blogging before breakfast.)

Like a creationist with no evidence for creation, the author has spent the whole article thus far attacking a straw man of the other side, rather than giving justification and reason to suppose his/her thoughts actually represent anything true. And to all my readers, especially those who've escaped cults, I love you - without knowing any gods. I love my son demonstrably more than the God of the Bible loved his - I will never torture my son to death or allow others to torture him to death (or at all). Certainly that torture and death wouldn't make me love THEM any more. Homicidal rage is closer to the feeling I imagine I'd have.

Since this entire argument was based on faulty premises and word shystery, the conclusion that "our human definition of love is false" is nothing more than an unsupported claim, and a rather stupid one at that. Moving on.
God is the Creator of all things, and by His very nature, He is love. God says love is unconditional and sacrificial, and it's not based on feelings; therefore, love is not an "intense affection… based on familial or personal ties". To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him. We can have that close relationship with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who was God's sacrifice of love for us.
First of all, let's nip this idea that God's love is unconditional in the bud. "Love" does not include torture; therefore if the whole theology is true, there are billions of souls God does not love in hell right now. There's also the question of how much of a sacrifice the crucifixion really was. Obviously, it's a horrific and painful way to die - so is AIDS. Jesus was apparently accused, betrayed, tried, convicted, and executed all on the same day. It was undoubtedly a bad day, and after it followed three days in hell, but then his pain was over and he got to be God forever. There are no prison sentences or parole boards in hell for the rest of us - it's eternity for everyone, regardless of infraction.

Also, extreme (and clumsy) word shystery. "It is not based on feelings, therefore it is not based on familial or personal ties." Huh? "It is not A, therefore it is not B?" Despite the author's intentions, I haven't bought the idea that feelings and ties are the same; A does not equal B. (What's the name of this logical fallacy? I'd really to know which one it is. It's like s/he's starting halfway through a syllogism.)
God is Love: True Love Only Comes Through a Relationship With Him
God is Love! As such, true love -- God's love -- can be summed up in this passage of scripture: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (1 John 4:7-11)
I don't know how many of you have had either a cult leader or a creepy stalkerish ex, but if you haven't just try to imagine. The only thing we've been told about God's love - repeatedly now - is that he loved us enough to kill someone for us, and has even already done it! Imagine you're on a first date. Over the appetizers, your date tells you, "I love you so much that I already killed my son for you." Do you:

a) Enter into a relationship with this person?
b) Commit your entire life to doing as this person pleases, in a groveling self-loathing attempt to curry favor?
c) Order your entree while you think things over?
d) Run like there's a pack of wild dogs chasing you?

(The correct answer is "D". All others lead to cults.)
Obviously this idea that people who don't know god (atheists for sure, and possibly theists of other faiths) don't love is just not true. Love is a human thing, not something divine.
If you want to know this love - true love -- get to know God. He is ready to pour out His love on you, and He wants to teach you how to love others as He loves you.
What, murderously and cruelly? I don't want to love people the way god supposedly loves us; I don't want other people to love me that way either. Love is two people coming together in affectio nand care for one another. When one person has the power of another's life in their very hands - and threatens that life continuously and with great variety - "love" is not present. Holding a gun to someone's head and saying, "Love me or I'll blow your brains out" is not love. Neither is "Believe this story even though every thing logical tells you not to or you'll suffer eternal torment in a lake of fire".

The author and I agree on one thing: God does not fit the definition of love. I'm just the only one to admit that means that he isn't love.

Also, "pour out his love on you" just sounds gross.

The very real core reason I don't believe in God anymore is because I realized I could find nothing to distinguish Jesus from a cult leader. It was a heart-breaking realization, because I hated cults and I loved Jesus, but it's better to know the truth. Ignorance is not bliss - Ignorance is captivity.