It is extremely important to understand that love is the word that describes God’s foundational moral character. God evaluates and initiates all His choices and responses in light of pursuing and promoting the highest possible good. This is a very demanding and complex approach requiring great wisdom, self-sacrifice and self-control. Love is a resolve and a commitment rather than an emotion. Various emotions might accompany love but the emotions themselves are not love nor are God’s choices governed by emotion. This is a very important clarification since confusing love with emotion is one of many great perversions of love in our culture. A reason for this confusion is the influence of humanism, materialism and naturalism. Love is descriptive of God’s moral character, it is not a natural attribute. We are commanded to use our natural attributes as God uses His. Love is the product of the proper moral use of the natural attributes that one possesses by choosing the right thing at the right time for the right reason.
Love is not simply tolerance. It is morally reprehensible to tolerate evil. As well, love is not merely gentleness. Love requires dealing with certain destructive behavior in a severe manner. God’s love is not limited to individuals. Love involves the more complex issue of pursuing the highest good as the behavior of individuals have an effect upon the community in which they act. This is an issue of public justice, not simply retributive or commercial justice.
In our next session, we will consider a concept I call severe kindness.