What is Love? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)

Night at the Roxbury – wasn’t that a funny movie? #nostalgia

The past two Sunday evenings at the behest of a friend of mine – the crazy talented Amanda Jack (check out Numinous Flux when you get the chance), I’ve attended a small informal get-together at her boyfriend’s house that they have every week. The objective is to talk about topics regarding spirituality, but occasionally we deviate a bit if the conversation nudges us in a slightly different direction.

This evening, one of the things we talked about was love. At first it started out with a general discussion in the context of God’s love for us as his creation. But it quickly morphed into a general philosophical question – what is love?

This is a question that we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another. And it was really great as I sat there observing the topic flesh itself out through each person present. I’m usually pretty forward with my own perspectives, but in this case I tried my best to stay quiet until I had a chance to hear each person’s take on it. It was fascinating to hear everyone talk about the topic – they all had some very insightful thoughts of which I had never considered.

I’ll end this post with my own take on the concept of love, but I’d also like to share some of the other points I heard.

First, love as it relates to God. One of the takes dealt with God’s ability to simultaneously be filled with 100% love and 100% wrath for us. Humans, as his creation, don’t possess the same potential (for obvious reasons). We cannot be composed of more than 100% of anything – meaning parts of us are filled with love, parts with hate, and so on. But God occupies ALL spaces in the spectrum, because He simply is. He’s everything. I thought this was a particularly intriguing point of view.

There was another statement that love (as I understood it) is a complexity of emotions. Love manifests itself in a variety of ways, and applies in different contexts and situations. The feelings we have toward our friends and neighbors are obviously different from the feelings we have towards our significant other. At least to a certain degree.I think this is something we would all agree upon.

We also briefly talked about trying to define the concept of love. By definition (according to Webster’s), it is: (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates>

For the sake of not being overly verbose on this, there were a lot of points that made a lot of sense. It’s obvious that trying to define love is a near impossible task. So here is my best attempt at doing so.

Love is the transcendence of carnal desire.

In order to understand what I mean by this, we first have to understand human nature. I believe that we, as humans, are wired in a very particular way. I know some of my views may conflict with traditional Christian doctrine, but I believe that mankind is a product of a long history of evolutionary developments – meaning that at our core, we are animals. As we take this into consideration, we have to acknowledge that we have certain biological tendencies written into our genetic makeup.

Love, in my opinion, is mankind’s ability to transcend these tendencies. It is the fundamental differentiator that separates our species from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. Love presents itself when we do the things for others that we normally wouldn’t. It’s helping a neighbor paint their house when there’s nothing in it for the individual. It’s the guy that helps the elderly woman cross the busy afternoon crosswalk. It’s the couple that starts the non-profit to help save battered dogs simply because they have a passion to do so. Finally, it’s the guy and girl who persevere through the toughest of times, because they know how much they care for one another.

These are the things that we do which violate our carnal desires. It’s the creation of a new desire to instead do something selfless and compassionate.

That’s just my take. Love is an endlessly complex subject, and one on which we all should reflect.

We may never truly grasp the concept of love – but it certainly helps to try.

love


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