Subscribe in a reader or enter your address to get posts via email: 
Like this blog on Facebook!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Loving Blindly

During the day I often have an MP3 player running on random shuffle - it's fun (and sometimes jarring) to hear different songs from 30 years of accumulating CDs jumbled in together. A few days ago this song by 4 Him started playing, and one single line popped out at me every time they sang it:

The line that bothered me is the line that says that one of the basics of Christianity is "a love that is blind". The reference in the song is of course that God's love does not consider someone's looks, or social standing, or race, or anything else in order to determine whether to love them. But I think this is a dangerous phrase to use to describe that idea.

The phrase "love is blind" is generally used to describe the idea that someone who has fallen in love seems to think the one they love is perfect. "A person who is in love can see no faults or imperfections in the person who is loved" is how it is summarized on Wikitionary, and that seems to be an apt definition. But that's not actually "love," not in the way I believe the Bible describes it. That kind of blind love is only the first stage even of romantic love, and I would more accurately call it "infatuation." And that kind of love isn't for strangers, anyway.

I don't think real love, the deep kind that comes from God, the kind that loved each of us so much that it came to Earth and died to save us, is ever "blind". If it's real love, it is exactly the opposite of ignorant blindness to the faults of the one being loved. True love means that you can see the faults of the other, usually in perfectly clear high definition, and you choose to love that person anyway. Jesus wasn't ignorant to the faults of the people around Him. Very often He told them to "Go, and sin no more",,, I don't see Him saying "Go, and I'm so glad you're already perfect!" He had no problem bringing up the sins of individuals when they needed bringing up. “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true” He said once. He was even known to tell his disciples off in no uncertain terms if they weren't doing right. When Jesus was on the Cross, He both forgave someone who was being executed alongside Him (and who confessed his own guilt willingly) and forgave those who had just put Him there, even though He would have to have been massively blind to not notice the sins being committed in both cases.

God loves each of us, even though He knows about our faults better than we ourselves do. That's the kind of love that is a basic of Christianity. In fact, I think that if we are actively listening to the Holy Spirit, we will actually have a sharper view of the shortcomings of others, because He will tell us things we couldn't know otherwise. But if we are actively listening to the Holy Spirit, He will also be telling us how much God loves each person, and inspiring the same love for each of them in us.

Blind "love" is the kind of thing that ignores children's misconduct because it is uncomfortable to discipline them, ignores a friend's path of alcoholism or promiscuity or dishonesty or whatever because it seems like it's "not my place to say something to him", ignores signs that a friend's wife is being abused because "my buddy's just not like that." I once knew a lovely older Christian woman who always tried to look at the "good" side of everyone's conduct, even when that conduct was clearly wrong, and even malicious. That kind of "love" is at best ignorant and dangerous, and at worst, it is selfishness. This woman was often taken advantage of by people because she wouldn't let herself see that they were likely to do something bad to her; she even seemed to think that the bad things that happened to her were somehow her own fault. I guess, in a way, since she refused to see the proverbial freight train coming down the tracks and get out of the way, she was partially right.
God's love does not ignore sinfulness; God's love confronts it. It confronts it at the right time and in the right way, but God's love does not leave sin alone. Because if a sinner is left with his sin, that sin will ultimately destroy the sinner, and injure everyone around him.

I think the 4 Him lyric probably makes perfect sense to Christians in general. We aspire to love others despite how they look or act. I think the lazy adaptation of the cliche "love is blind" without maybe totally thinking it through was unfortunate, because I think it could be misunderstood, but the concept is true: God's love does not reject people. God's love is always ready to accept another person, no matter what they might look or sound or smell like. That's the takeaway from that one line in this one song. Don't be blind, though; be completely, 100% aware, but be completely, 100% accepting.

No comments: