Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos
Moria Refugee Camp on Lesvos

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

What is love?

I wrote this just before Valentine's day in 2015; you read it at the earliest in Holy Week 2016 - two wonderful examples of the complexity of the question ‘What is Love?’; the word ‘love’ has so many meanings.

Every month I go along to Lincoln Drill Hall for something called the Philosophy Cafe, really just a group of people meeting to explore ‘philosophical’ questions like, ‘what is love’, ‘what makes me, me.’ On occasions I have been asked to introduce the discussion and I was working away at how to introduce the question ‘what is love.’ I decided to quote from St Paul Corinthians 13, Shakespeare Sonnet 116 and the four (or more) words the ancient Greeks had for love. I was shot down; to use an extract from the Bible would offend some people and that would destroy the discussion. We couldn’t agree, so someone else introduced the discussion using only the Greek words.

It set me thinking.

I accept that to some people the Bible might be divisive, but in one sense what it is, is just the thinking of a middle eastern people between two and four millennia ago. So, not so very different to the writings from around the same time from the Greek world.

The Bible, Shakespeare and the literature of the ancient Greeks are, together with a few other bits, the foundation of the English language; they are the ‘air we breathe.’ I suspect that no-one in the Drill Hall talking about what is love, will not have been influenced in their thinking by at least one of these sources and probably by all three. To exclude the Bible because it may offend is nonsense.

As Christians, we believe that the Bible is more; it is God’s word or at the very least an account of man’s relationship with God. The Bible responds to the question ‘What is Love?’ with the answer, God is love.

What fascinated me in the discussion about love without the Bible, was that many people saw love as underlying everything. Whatever Greek meaning was taken, romantic love, family love, friendship or love for mankind - charity, the meaning that St Paul used -,  we seemed to come back to the same point that love underlies everything, like God really.

May I wish you a very happy Easter

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