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BOB BROWN: The Law of Love

“Love” means many things to many people. Like other important terms, we can find specific kinds of love defined by the Ancient Greeks 300-500 BC, but I do not need to impress people with my unfamiliarity with the “Golden Age of Pericles” or Alexander the Great or philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. I choose a more postmodern way to unravel love in the 21st century.

We have family love, sweetheart love, love of country, love of food, love of drink, love of pets, love of schools and neighborhoods, love of teams, love of “weed,” and even, for some – love of God. As a classmate recently reminded me, we also have “namby- pamby” love, a term first used in 1745, meaning weak, silly or emotional.

Critics will accuse me of confusing love with more appropriate terms such as fondness, liking, or caring for someone or something. I hope that is the case because ever since our culture has granted authority to “one’s inner feelings,” look how confusing many significant issues have become. General agreement and consensus have been systematically abandoned and replaced by the rule of “one’s inner feelings.”

“Ones inner feelings” began nudging itself innocently into our language following the sexual revolution in the 1960s.  Remember being condemned for being “politically incorrect,” an oxymoron or figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Political correctness is defined as language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.

Therefore, truth articulated thoughtfully and without malice nonetheless may be called “hate speech” by those whose “inner feelings” are riled up by the truth. An enormous, fertile field is ripe for mental health theorists to study and determine the ultimate outcome of a culture whose language, policies, and institutions have evolved from the “inner feelings” of favored groups.

It is regrettable that our culture is witnessing the destructive force of hateful “inner feelings” that too commonly follow the Law of Hate, undervaluing life and property without expectation of consequences.  Is there a causal relationship between the remarkable mushrooming use of oxymorons, submission by society to the “inner feelings” of others, and the deteriorating state in which we find ourselves today?

I long for the days when the Law of Love was palpable, real, meaningful, and the Law of Hate, if it existed, was outside of my awareness.  I grew up in a church not a hundred yards from my home.  It was the center of my spiritual life, my social life, and where I learned to read the Bible, where I was baptized, where I sang in the choir, where I met my wife, and where I was married more than 70 years ago.

Now I have the advantages of Zoom Bible Studies with competent teachers.  Caring ministers have been essential in my life.  If one can stomach the disgusting commercials, TV evangelism can be a good place to deepen one’s knowledge of the Bible – though ‘buyer beware’ when it comes to the motivation of some programs / churches / preachers and teachers .

Recently, I have been reading about Solomon and the value he placed on wisdom.  There are several important quotations one can take from Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes, but my favorite one is his conclusion at the end of the book.  In a word, after all is said and done, there are two important rules to follow: “Fear God and keep His commandments.”

Jesus knows our true “inner feelings.”  His love for everyone is sacrificial love, the highest form of love.  Jesus knows what is in our hearts, and that we have all missed the target, yet he reassures us of His love and will never leave or forsake us.  Unlike today’s absence of constancy, Jesus is always the same loving, always present, always encouraging.

Jesus knows how dangerous and how easy it is the follow the Law of Hate.  Jesus specifically told us how to kindly and respectfully love one another.  All references to revenge detailed in the Old Testament were always restricted to the judiciary.  Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery for the cancer of hate in “one’s inner feelings” is to try ones very best to obey the Law of Love.

American law is derived from two primary sources: English Common Law and the Constitution of the United States.  English Common Law is derived from the Ten Commandments and the Magna Carta written in 1215.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt: 22:37–40.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34.

Love is as love does.  Love is a verb, an action, something we do; not something we just feel or say or think. When we obey the law –  the basic duty of all citizens – we are actually obeying the Law of Love.  When we keep His commandments, we are loving our Lord.

Nothing is more important in mental and spiritual health than loving and being loved.  Willam James said it catchy phrase I memorized years ago and urge others to do the same: “We all need to learn to give our little, private, convulsive self a rest, and to find the Greater Self.  When we find the Greater Self our life and our work will take on a sense of lyrical enchantment.”  Varieties of Religious Experience, 1903.

Robert S. Brown, MD, PHD a retired Psychiatrist, Col (Ret) U.S. Army Medical Corps devoted the last decade of his career to treating soldiers at Fort Lee redeploying from combat. He was a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Education at UVA. His renowned Mental Health course taught the value of exercise for a sound mind.

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