Archives For Idolatry

“Love is love” is slogan that assuages all sexual sin.

If “love is love” is the new moral standard, then adultery, promiscuity, bestiality, and number of other sexual sins are not only justifiable, they are permissible.

This is because “love is love” falsely elevates sexual sin to a morally superior position, where anyone who stands opposed to the assumed “love is love” standard, is belittled as “unloving and immoral”.

Heterosexuals who spout “love is love” know that in the current climate, “love is love” covers a multitude of sexual sin, so why not jump on the bandwagon? Especially when embracing the slogan, enables them to pursue an anything goes ethos.

In the light of this, it’s easy enough to see how the widespread support and use of the “love is love” slogan, isn’t as altruistic or as selfless as it seems. From this perspective, heterosexual support for SSM, and homosexuality, in general, is pure self-centeredness.*

In the words of psychiatrist Karl Menninger, ‘the lure of profit exceeds the prestige of prophet.’ [i]

Pornography also contributes. Many a breakup and the continuing dysfunction of marriages can be attributed to the mythic, false and distorted view that pornography creates in men, about women and sex.

What’s more, these points uncover just how asinine the “love is love” slogan is.

Love cannot define itself.  Love is defined by God. Love comes from who God is. He cannot be anything, or anyone other than who He is.

The very fact that God is love means we cannot say in reverse that love is God. The noun precedes the verb, not the reverse.

Love is defined by the One who exists outside of humanity. His love enters time and space, and graciously seeks out relationship with us.

Love is defined by the One who comes to humanity from outside itself, as both grace and command. God is love and He presents knowledge about Himself to humanity, through His covenant with Israel, and by His revelation in Jesus Christ.

Love is defined by the One who seeks human response, the One who builds life, and gives order to creation; the One who doesn’t abandon His creation to its own inclinations, or the terror of the abyss. In the words of John, ‘we love because He first loved us.’ (1 John 4:19, ESV).

This is the ‘sovereignty of His love’, which doesn’t ‘exercise mechanical force, to move the immobile from without, [or] to rule over puppets or slaves, but rather to triumph in faithful servants and friends, not in their overthrow, but in their obedience, in their own free decision for Him.’ [i]

The ‘sovereignty of God’s love’ liberates humanity from subjective, abstract and artificial alternatives. We are emancipated from the burden of the oppressor, who defines love by whatever he or she decides it should or could be.

To borrow from G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy, those who seek to define love by itself, seek the moon, and its morbid light. Then in confusion, ponder about why it doesn’t produce life. Leading G.K.C to conclude: hence, ‘the moon is the mother of lunatics and has given them all her name.’

The individual who jettisons the ‘the sovereignty of God’s love’ from love inevitably asserts a definition of love made in their own image and desires.

Under the “love is love” slogan, no one is allowed to challenge this definition. Any reasoned disagreement outside this abstract idea of love, is measured as an act of hatred, betrayal and treachery – anti-love.

Therefore, to assert that God is love is to enter into a revolt against it.

As a revolt it asserts that love is not Lordless. Love is not meaningless or without purpose. Love is defined by what God does, and what God does comes from who God is [ii].

Love cannot define itself any more than the slave or abused child can define freedom. The sin of others has distorted their view of the world. Lies replace truth. They’re been taught to believe the abuse he or she receives at the hands of their oppressor is normal. In this way, “love is love” fails the oppressed and gives legitimacy to the oppressor. Love that defines itself negates itself.

Alternatively, the ‘sovereignty of God’s love’ encompasses both His “yes” and “no”. God’s “yes” to the genuinely oppressed, raises humanity up to challenge the claims of the oppressor. In this way, God’s firm “yes” and loving “no” to the oppressed and the oppressor are an outworking of His sovereignty. Love is not Lordless.

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 the One who loves in freedom. It cannot be true freedom without the ‘God who frees man and woman to be free for Him and free for each other.’ [iii]

Without God, love becomes a cheap commodity, whose meaning is traded and swapped for whatever sells best. Love is downgraded to emotion, sex, money and the satisfying of an individual’s selfish desires.

“Love is love” is newspeak; a tool used to uphold human claims to ownership of what love is. Love is then determined to be anything the oppressor wants it to be.

Roger Scruton helps to brings this into clearer focus, noting the Communist practice of controlling language and meaning, under ‘the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words […]The purpose of communist Newspeak, has been to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’ [iv]

For example, if the slogan “love is love” is taken to its logical end, aren’t the obscenely wealthy, or the national socialists 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, the State, 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 crony capitalists, who love their money, in the end just hypocrites selling something no one should ever want to buy?

Under this shadow, “love is love” is lordless, abstract, confused and empty. “Love is love” is a cover-up, and like all self-justification, “love is love” is proven to be a lie. [v] It cannot sustain a working definition of what love actually is.

The first cause of change in attitudes towards homosexuality and same-sex marriage is the erosion of heterosexual marriage. This erosion includes the downgrade, and dismissal of Biblical theology which asserts that God is love, and that under ‘the sovereignty of His love’, ‘woman is free for man, man is free for woman, and together both are free for God’. This comes by way of the covenant fulfilled in The Gospel, where, in His costly reconciling of humanity to Himself in Jesus Christ, God proves who and what love is.

“Love is love” is no substitute for this. It is no substitute for the One who was, and is, and is to come.

Maranatha.


References:

[i] Menninger, K. 1973. Whatever Became of Sin? Hawthorn Books Inc.

[ii] Barth, K.1942 CD II/II: The Election of Jesus Christ  Hendrickson Publishers p.178

[ii] ibid.

[iii] Barth, K. 1951 CD III.IV The doctrine of creation Hendrickson Publishers pp.170-180

[iv] Scruton, R. 2015. Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Bloomsbury Publishing, (p.8)

[v] Torrance, T.F. 2008. Incarnation: The Person & Life of Christ, IVP Academic

* I don’t doubt that there are sincere believers in the slogan, the evidence provided by James, however, suggests that such believers might be few and far between.

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 12th July, 2019)

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Define Your Illusions_RL2015_GVLWe the broken are far too easily ignored. We the abused are far too easily used. We are sold hope and guided by hands quick to speak of solidarity. We fall for blurred distinctions and ignore the price.

We are sold an empty comfort from mouths  that speak words of sympathy, but are absent of any real connectivity. They may promise salvation and deliverance from the deep sadness and pain we want so much to rip or be ripped out of us, but they cannot deliver what they promise. Sadly, some choose to keep us dwelling on that pain and sadness, in order to squeeze a dollar or two out of it.

In a way that pain and sadness become commodities.

In the church and world, if among the broken we are picked out as ‘charismatic, gifted, beautiful or anointed’ we are seized upon and raised up by the collective and individual alike.

Either to promote a cause or financial gain. Paraded on stage, our testimony is “validated”, our pain and healing seemingly put to good use. However, when the doors close and the next ‘big’ thing is promoted we realise that our pain and healing was paraded  in order to hype up the masses or sell politics, an opinion, idea or distorted theology. Here the veil falls and we see that interest in the One who saves, saved and will save was pushed to the background as we were adorned with adoration, idolised and syphoned for hope.

The essence of our contact with world, relationship and institution is easily manipulated. We the broken, guarded and sensitive to those things which have hurt us so successfully, are ironically attracted by those things that will hurt us. Buying into the false promises that control us as they promise remedy.

Sometimes, therefore, the broken become the prey of the fortunate. Then, sometimes the affected are thrown away like chaff by the disaffected.

This could be because the voices of the experienced are disruptive. Disputing certainty, and intellectual anxiety about meaning and purpose. Disrupting those firmly held inside a web of ideological conformity.

Our continuing survival discomforts their faith in empirical impassabilities. It challenges the surety of presuppositions that imprison the impossible to ignorance and the absurd. It challenges their claim to power. Examples here include the historical, Martin Luther and The Reformation, or the fictitious Katniss Everdeen and her role in ‘The Hunger Games.’

Those with higher opinions based solely on higher education or their association with certain institutions may comment, but it is clear that most are selective and set only on pursuing a particular narrative – often the one that will keep them popular.

Faith uninformed by reason ends in delusion; superstition. Worse still is reason detached completely from the necessary dualism of faith and reason – scientism. As proven by the 20th Century, is the grounding of gross inhumanity.

An evolutionary ethic demands the strong must resource their strength from the weak until the weak are no longer useful. The “elite” have no problem assuming, then, that the broken are ruined beyond repair. That we cannot think for ourselves or see through the shattered lens that pales in comparison to their presumed-to-be superior, unscarred monocles.

So, we are sold illusions and sadly, we buy into them. We are even convinced enough to vote for them.

Niceties and platitudes of human tolerance end in hypocrisy. Resulting in acts of kindness being abandoned and the real importance being place solely on the appearance of giving it.

Additionally, the beauty of an orthodox theological understanding of Christian love is deconstructed, then subsumed into an “absolute ethic of niceness.[i]” God’s mercy is, thus, distorted without any acknowledgement let alone recognition of His right and freedom to act in just judgement. [ii]

With all the brokenness and abandonment around me at the time. Growing up as a teen in the 1990’s. I found it easy to fall into the trap of self-medication. Weekends spent young, drunk (and/or stoned); finding my identity in the closest people or things that I thought were identifying with me.

Looking back on that time, it wasn’t  because I was being drawn to those people or things because they identified with me, but because I leaned towards whatever I could identify, understand or nullify my pain with.

We hear packaged in phrases that ‘such and such, really identifies with their audience‘. Terms of endorsement often found in movie and music reviews alike.

The important distinction not to be missed here, though, is that artists don’t generally identify with their audience. Rather their audience (the customer) identifies with them. It’s not reciprocal, even if the understanding is mutual.

The truth is that those people and things only identified with my money and my blind, happy applause.

Case in point is the band Guns n’ Roses.

I remember reaching for everything I could find or learn about them, to be them. Even up to the point of copying almost every riff and niche Marshal Amp sound I could squeeze out of my $150 second-hand electric guitar, which had a cracked head and the embarrassing habit of going out of tune after each strum, pick or bend.

I was more than a fan. I was a disciple flirting with a generalised, but similar inner darkness that they seemed to be wrestling with. Questing for the transcendent; looking to ascend the hole of despair that my existence had boxed me into.

This was poetry with guts.

Emotion and truth screaming through mic, five string, bass and drum. In short: a form of worship. Throwing up; ’emotional vomit’ (as Lacey Sturm from ‘Flyleaf’ brilliantly described it); a numbness screaming out for feeling. This was a reach for rescue-through-revolt. A desire to be heard and acknowledged; a potential revolution powered by real-anger, angst, amp and an “appetite” for definition.

The reality is that the men of Gn’R didn’t identify with me. They couldn’t. They didn’t know me. Yet, there is no blame that I can justly attach to them. What I was being sold hung on a blurred distinction.*

I identified with them, their craft, skills and lyrical aptitude. I related to what people were selling through them and bought-into it every time. It wasn’t and couldn’t ever be reciprocated.

Any healthy personal connection where I felt cared for or understood was an illusion; an estrangement caused by a blurred distinction.

Although tempted, I wouldn’t simply relegate this as ‘idol worship‘ hoping to avoid over-analysing things, but as something more complex propagated by the absence of key relationships in my life.

What I have learnt through all of this is that my identity must rest in and under Jesus Christ, not any man, woman or ideology. He is the one in whom God chooses not only to identify with us, but to free us, in order to be for us and with us. So that we can be free for Him; free from, in order to be for, each other**:

‘…when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [and daughters]. And because you are sons [and daughters], God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but sons [and daughters], and if so, then an heir through God.’
– (Galatians, 4:3-7; see also Romans 8:15)


References:

[i] Elshtain, J. 1993 Just War Against Terror

[ii] (see Karl Barth C.D II:1 ‘Dues non est in genere’: God is not a species that can be categorised by us, outside that which and who He has chosen to reveal Himself to us).

*So that I am not misinterpreted, “Gunners” as-they-were, still are, in my opinion, musical giants. Lyrically, rhythmically and melodically they hit on truths with criticisms of society that no one else dared to speak in and from that kind of arena.

** Karl Barth, paraphrased.