Tuesday, May 24, 2011

All We Need Is Love?

There are those who would argue that the only moral standard is love. This viewpoint is particularly put forth by those who hold to situation ethics, but has since spread beyond it. The only standard of right and wrong is to do the loving thing in the situation. How does this fit in with Scripture?

There are  passages that state love is the sum of all the commandments of the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13,14). The question then comes: What is love? Now to  love is to sacrifice oneself for the good of another (1 John 4:8-10; John 15:13; Romans 5:6-8). With this Dr. Fletcher, the founder of situation ethics, agrees, as would others who hold his opinions. But the question that then must be asked is: What is good?  In many cases I suspect his answer is the same as that of utilitarianism, which is that good is what gives the largest amount of pleasure. It is here Scripture and this viewpoint part company. In Scripture there is an absolute standard of good that supersedes our personal desires (Titus 3:3; James 1:14,15; 1 Peter 1:14). (This does not mean that all human desires are wrong, merely that they are not to be made the standard.) This disagreement arises from conflicting ideas about human nature. The Scriptures say that we, as human beings, are in rebellion against God, and our desires in many cases are the result of that rebellion (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). While the modern idea is that people are basically good and therefore their desires are good unless they conflict with someone else's desires (or at least, who am I to question them). These lead to fundamentally different concepts of love.

The Biblical concept of love leads to a concept of commitment and responsibility and living according to principle. The modern cultural idea of love is a vague sentimental feeling that would not dream of questioning anyone or anything, except in the most extreme cases. A good illustration of this contrast is in the area of sexual morality. The Biblical standard in this area is one of lifetime commitment between a man and a woman, with responsibility being taken for the children produced by the union. The modern idea in this area is of following your impulses wherever they lead you, and that as long as what happens is between consenting adults it is okay, and that the children, if any, just have to learn to live with this. These are two totally different concepts of love, and if one is legitimate, the other is not. So when someone says the ultimate moral principle is love, you need to ask what they mean by love.

1 comment:

  1. "The Biblical concept of love leads to a concept of commitment and responsibility and living according to principle."

    Love that Mike!