Thursday, June 29, 2017

Love and Other L Words

Sometimes people of different opinions seem at cross purposes. We talk past each other. And we won’t get anywhere good that way. So sometimes I work on words, and wording, in the hope that it may help.

Yesterday I came across a short piece at United Families International, by Erin Weist, talking about the phrase “Love wins.” It’s used by the LGBTQ… lobby to attack defenders of marriage and family. It’s a good example of talking past each other.

Who’s against love? No one is saying LGBT people shouldn’t be loved, or shouldn’t love. As Weist says, “Who doesn’t support loving each other?  But I suggest these statements are straw man arguments, meant to invoke intense passion for the subject without actually addressing the subject at all.”

It's hard to know the motivation of everyone who uses the phrase. Some are probably doing it purposely to manipulate the argument—to demonize anyone who disagrees with them. Some are those who have fallen for the manipulation and then repeat it without thinking it through.
We celebrated a lot of
real love that day, at
daughter Social Sphere's wedding

That second group might be someone we can eventually communicate with, if we get a chance to have an actual dialogue.

Weist offers some historical perspective on the word love:

First, love comes in many forms.  Men can form bonds with each other, women love friends in their social groups, children love each other, adults love children and find themselves concerned with their well-being because of that love.  Ancient Greeks believed in at least 8 different types of love, some of them among friends and having nothing to do with a marriage relationship.  Each of these forms of love is different based on the particular relationship.  Traditional marriage supporters generally believe in many different forms of love–but especially that physical love is one particular kind meant to be kept between 2 opposite genders and ONLY in a marriage relationship.  This doesn’t deny selfless love or familial love that we feel for others around us.
I got curious and looked up what those 8 Greek words for love are, and how their meanings differ:

·         Eros—erotic love, sexual passion or desire
·         Philia—friendship affection, between equals
·         Storge—familial affection, no sexual attraction
·         Ludus—playful affection, flirtation, infatuation
·         Mania—obsessive love, eros or ludus unbalanced and desperate
·         Pragma—enduring love, matured love, as with long married couples
·         Philautia—self love in its healthiest form (not narcissism), caring for self
·         Agape—unselfish, unconditional love, altruistic love

Only a few of these relate to potential sexual relations. Several are clearly free of that connotation. But when the LGBT lobby talks about sexual relations, they frequently use the word love, as though that is what sex always is. But it isn’t.

If sex always meant love, then we would consider rape a beautiful offering of connection between two people—but it isn’t. Nor is incest, child molestation—or any molestation. Nor is prostitution or any form of sex trafficking.

We’d be hard put to agree that one-night stands or orgies are about people caring deeply for one another in any way that could be described as actual love. Promiscuity is selfish and carnal; it has nothing to do with love.

A better word would be lascivious. It means wanton, lustful, lewd, arousing sexual desire without love. It’s a good, Biblical word that we seem to under-use in our modern society.

I have a long-time friend (Happy Birthday, Friend!) who has been married coming up on 40 years soon. I remember when they met and started dating. It was a blind date, to a dance. She was fighting a cold, and didn’t think she’d been that impressive on their first date. But on his part, it was practically love at first sight. He went home and told his parents, “I’m in lust.” And to their shocked expressions he replied, “I only just met her, so how could I be in love yet? So I must be in lust.” 

Whatever it was that first date, he pursued it. Using the Greek words above, I’d say he felt ludus, and pursued the relationship toward marriage so they could enjoy eros, and eventually pragma. And I’d add that, in a mature love, there’s a lot of unselfish agape as well.

Children came out of that marriage. I’ve lost count of how many grandchildren; they keep coming. The latest family photos take up an entire wall. There’s something beautiful that comes from that bond of love—a love that isn’t expressed sexually until the covenant of marriage has been made, that then provides safe growth for children, and long and happy companionship for the couple.

In my fairly civilized world, that kind of love shows up frequently. It’s what most of my circle of friends are striving for, and mostly succeeding.

I’m not against that kind of love for anyone willing to put into it enough unselfish love to make it work.

But those who keep thinking they’re going to find it if they just have enough sexual encounters—they won’t. Every time they engage in sex without eternal commitment, they aren’t giving actual love, and they aren’t receiving it. They are choosing lasciviousness instead of love.

As Weist ends her piece:

Marriage may be all about love but the arguments in favor of same sex marriage reflect a different kind of love–less concerned with a stable society or the next generation and more concerned with self.  So saying “love wins” is indeed a straw man.  No one is arguing against love, just which kind is most important. 
Often the argument takes place at a distance, and doesn’t much resemble a conversation. But if the opportunity does come up to talk things through toward understanding, maybe we can ask, “What kind of love is winning? What do you mean?” And if they believe they’re talking about some kind of real love, we can ask, “What makes you think any of us is against that?”

Maybe there will be some who come to see, we’ve been in favor of real love all along, and maybe we even know how to find it.

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