“Further Thoughts on the Definition of Love,” by Philippe DeBernay


Further thoughts on the definition of love:

It occurs to me that the reason we try to define things is to get a handle on them and subdue them. This gives us control over the thing… knowing its “true name,” if you will. The neat thing about love, on this front, is that it cannot be defined in such a way as to give us control over it. It is something we agree to and open to (through faith and hope) but is not something we can put in a box and turn on and off.

It is easy to define the results of love and the actions of love, but the essence of love is a mystery. Love allows us to be open to receive a person as he is, without needing to change him or redefine him to our standards or liking. It does not judge. Love loves. Love does not discern, for it is not conditional. If we love an evil person, we often worry about affirming their evil. But the nature of love is good: it cannot affirm evil, it can only receive the person unconditionally.

Thus, people often fail to love because they are fearful of violating the good conscience that allows love to shine forth in the first place. But when fear is put away, and the conscience feels secure, love flows forth much more freely.

The opposite of love is indifference, not hate. Hate is the child of fear and we often hate something when we fear it. We are never indifferent to something we fear. But when we stop being afraid, we have the choice to ignore the thing, or to go further and receive the thing with love… or at least, the person associated with he thing.

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The best we can do is love. Not educate, not warn, not refuse, but only overcome evil with the goodness of love. The day for love is not the moment for education, warning, or separation. There may be moments for all these things in their proper contexts, but these contexts are not the day for love, and every day is the day for love.

Philippe DeBernay