Love is defined by God.Love cannot define love, it comes from who God is.
Love comes from the One who exists outside humanity; outside time and space. It comes from the One who seeks a response. The One who presents knowledge about Himself through covenant and in Jesus Christ. Eternity entering time to graciously seek out relationship with humanity.
‘…but the sovereignty which was to be confirmed and glorified was the sovereignty of His love, which did not will to exercise mechanical force, to move the immobile from without, to rule over puppets or slaves, but willed rather to triumph in faithful servants and friends, not in their overthrow, but in their obedience, in their own free decision for Him.’ (Barth p.178) [i]
The statement that God is love means that love is not god. It’s a distinction that liberates love from the human claim to be able to define love. This frees humanity from the burden of the oppressor who through the control of a ‘false consciousness’ (Karl Marx) makes love whatever he or she decides it should be.
The individual that has jettisoned God from love inevitably asserts a definition of love made in their own image.
Nothing and no one is allowed to challenge this. Any reasoned disagreement is considered to be outside this love. Measured against this new definition of love and found wanting, all opposition is sentenced to be an act of hatred, betrayal and treachery – anti-love.
To say that God is love is to revolt against this. Love is defined by what God does and what God does comes from who God is. It means to acknowledge that humanity is freed by God to stand in unison with others in an act of communal exorcism against the oppressor. In both its actuality and potentiality, to say that God is love is to break the chains of all ideologies that have become, or seek to become masters of humanity.
Love that defines itself, negates itself. Love cannot define itself any more than the slave or abused child can define freedom, when they have been taught to believe the abuse he or she might have received at the hands of an oppressor is normal.
That God is love and as such, lovingly acts in both His “yes” and “no”, raises humanity up to challenge the claims of the oppressor. For example: God’s command limits the freedom of oppressor. Such a limitation of freedom also frees the oppressed. God’s tough-love, His “no” to the oppressor tells the oppressed that the violence and abuse of the oppressed is wrong.
That God is love means love cannot be love without God at its center. Likewise, human freedom grounded in love cannot be true freedom without grateful obedience to the Holy God who loves in freedom. It cannot be freedom without the ‘God who frees man and woman to be free for Him and free for each other.’ (Karl Barth) [ii]
Without God, love and even freedom become a cheap commodity, whose meaning is traded and swapped for that which sells best. Reduced to emotion, sex, money and the placating of an individual’s happiness.
If ”love is love” is to be taken to its logical end, aren’t the obscenely wealthy, or the national socialist justified in their love for money, nation or race, and to hell with the consequences?
If ”love is love” justifies lifestyle choices, such as its promotion as a legitimate argument for same-sex marriage. Then doesn’t ”love is love” justify servitude to a Führer and his/her ism, and the reign of terror that often follows?
In light of this, aren’t “love is love” advocates, especially those who protest Capitalism, in the end just hypocrites selling something no one should ever want to buy?
The “love is love” argument is therefore only a tool of the oppressor used to uphold human claims to ownership of what love is. Love is then determined to be anything the oppressor wants it to be. Which, as history tells us, is usually expressed by the whip, underpay, discrimination, special treatment, racism, greed, abuse and persecution of whatever the oppressed disagree with.
Though relationship exists because God wills and desires to be with us, the distinction remains clear: God is God and we are not.God frees love from fickle and insecure human authority. An ideology cannot be love anymore than it can usurp the God who loves. It’s this way because we don’t own God any more than we can own love or know what love is outside of the God who loves us.
‘Be not wise in your own eyes, fear [trust] the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh, and refreshment to your bones’ – (Proverbs, 3:7-8)
[i] Barth, K.1942 CD II/II: The Election of Jesus Christ Hendrickson Publishers p.178
[ii] Barth, K. 1951 CD III.IV The doctrine of creation Hendrickson Publishers pp.170-180