"Love is love"?
XXVII Sunday OT
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Everybody is interested in love and divorce. When the Pharisees come to Jesus to ask about the lawfulness of divorce, it seems like a tremendous question. We are all interested in divorce because we are all interested in love. In a world that is hoping to reduce love to a feeling, Jesus comes through with his way of turning things upside down until we see things the right way. Divorce seems like the death of love. But it also seems like a way out when we get ourselves stuck in an intolerable situation. What are we supposed to think?
Do you remember playing as a child? One of the most exciting moments is when your uncle would scoop you up, put you over his shoulder and spin you around. Everything would lose focus, and you might even feel a little sick. When the game was over and you were back on your feet, you would still feel a little woozy. This was the moment when you could begin to refocus on reality. Everything had gone topsy-turvy, but now you would begin to see clearly again.
The same thing happens with love. There is a lot of emotion, and we can start to become very confused. It is important to have both feet planted firmly on the ground if we are going to understand things correctly. We want to believe in love forever, but our world is so aggressive towards love and marriage, that we begin to doubt.
One of the most contradictory phrases from our modern culture is “Love is love.” From a logical standpoint, this phrase is a tautology. It is repeating itself. So, from a logical point of view, this phrase adds no knowledge to what is already in our awareness. It would seem to be a useless phrase.
However, much meaning has been attached to the phrase “love is love.” The idea is that we are all free to love as we wish. We should follow our hearts. I remember seeing a tattoo that was popular among young women for a while. It was a small arrow on the wrist. I would joke around sometimes, saying “if you don’t know where to go, just follow the arrow.” While there might be some poetic truth to that for some people, it would not help very much to navigate out of a desert.
“Love is love” has become a justification for every type of love. It does not matter if it is heterosexual or homosexual love, because “love is love.” With time, it comes to include quite a few combinations. Now, we use the word “love” a lot. I am likely to apply it when I eat a hamburger. “I loved that hamburger.” But I would never compare the sensory pleasure of a juicy hamburger with the filial love I feel towards my mother. It is not just a difference of degree; it is a difference of nature.
So, “love is love” has to fall by the wayside. If you don’t think so, just tell your significant other “I love you like a jelly doughnut.” It will probably not be remembered as one of the romantic expressions of love. But if “love is love,” it should not make a difference.
Christ came into the world, among other things, to save love. When the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce, it is really a question about love. “Can love die?” When Jesus re-affirms the value of marriage, he is re-affirming the value and permanence of love. In this life, we are all imperfect beings, and we often fail in our love. But even these failures in love can remind us that we are called to a relationship with LOVE, who will never end. God is calling us to communion with him.
This week, try to examine the relationships in your life. Try to identify the types and intensities of love that you are living. How do you love your siblings, your spouse, your parents, your children? How does your love need to be purified, if it is to reflect more perfectly the love of God? How are you preparing for an eternity where you will be united to God forever? This life is a test run for Heaven. Let us train well now so that we discover the true meaning of love and are ready to live love forever.