A Question I Was Asked:



Where Does Love Come From? What Does 'God is Love' Really Mean?

What About Sexual Love?






The Question:

Where does love come from? In fact, what does 'God is love' really mean? Also, does God approve of sexual love? I was taught He did not, but allowed it within marriage but only to produce children.


UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this.

In 1 John 4 we find the following:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12).

God is the very root and ground of all love. But for God, there would be no love in the world. Indeed, but for God there would be no world. True, deep, spiritual love constantly emanates from Him. Since we are made in His very image, men and women can especially 'tap' into this. So we find a 'lower' form of this love from God made available to us within the family in the love between a man and woman, parents and children, grandparents, brothers and sisters and so on. Of course love is available to all, married or single, but is most deeply, fully and satisfactorily experienced within the family unit. The very highest possible expression of love available to men and women, in my opinion, is the love between a husband and wife, leading to the divine blessing of children; this especially so if that couple are committed Christians fully understanding the wonderful symbolism of marital love.

There are various kinds of typical human love, but the right kind always has outgoing concern to the one loved right at the very core and centre of its motivation; it is not selfish but wants the very best for the one loved. In the case of parental love, sometimes 'tough love,' is the most godly kind, rather than giving in to demanding children and weakening their future characters. Yet all human forms of this love do have a small selfish area/aspect.

Love, Lust and Sex...

Lust is not love but is selfish, demanding and wanton, being prepared to hurt another person for selfish satisfaction. Nevertheless, we should recognise that our God has built strong, sometimes prodigious, sexual appetites into all men and women and there is a time and place, and a perfect right, to want and expect physical satisfaction from the loved one (that is, within a mature, deep, loving, fully committed and loyal relationship). On the other hand, casual, promiscuous, 'recreational' sex is a wicked travesty of its essentially pure meaning; it is intended to be a reflection of the love between Christ (the husband) and the church (the wife). However, sex is a gift from God to the entire world - not just to Christians, but one which should be used responsibly, with love, wisdom and consideration. Unreasonable passion should be held under control. It is important to understand this point that sexual love is given - by a benevolent God - to the entire world and not just to Christians, because some Christians almost appear at times as though they would like to ban it from everybody else! Rather, it is a birthright for every adult man and woman but Christians are right to point to marriage as its very best arena and setting. Sometimes parts of the Christian community will preach: 'no marriage=no sex,' but we should understand that - as a minority group - we do not have the societal right nor authority to impose any such ruling. Yet we should continue to warn about promiscuity.

Roman Catholic Teaching

When my questioner states, "...does God approve of sexual love? I was taught He did not, but allowed it within marriage but only to produce children," he is almost certainly referring to the teaching of the Church of Rome, a teaching, to be frank, which - however sincere - I find to be flawed. This teaching has led to normal married couples within that denomination feeling tremendous guilt at enjoying marital love where the intention might not be to immediately produce children. Marital sexual enjoyment is not wrong but a gift of God to mankind. The belief also suggests that all male semen is life, whereas the fact is it only has the potentiality of producing life (and quite often does not) - that is a big difference.

How God Has Shown His Love

So the very highest form of love emanates from God to us, His human creation. A somewhat 'lower' form of this God-emanating love appears among those made in His very image. John refers to the highest form of divine love when he writes, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." We are, by nature, sinners and deserved nothing. Despite this, God provides a way for men and women to repent and to enter into a correct, loving relationship with Himself.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:19-20).

In closing, we might just note that Darwinism, or Neo-Darwinism, offers no believable, consistent explanation of what love is. To macro-evolution, 'love' is an emotional deception purely concerned about human procreation and confined to the brain; selfless love is a nonsense to this form of thinking. The Christian should rejoice that we may enjoy a fuller understanding of the wonderful emotion of love and its divine origin.

Robin A. Brace. July 28th, 2013.

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