Love is all you need?

A United Church of Christ minister, Chuck Currie writes here at the HuffPo about religious freedom. He disagrees with the recent moves by some Christians to have the freedom to not purchase certain types of contraceptives for employees and he does not want them to have the freedom to hire and fire who they want in their organizations. Still, Reverend Chuck says he is in favor of religious freedom.

And I think they fundamentally misunderstand what Jesus stood for.

I recently preached that the true test of a church or an individual Christian should not be an adherence to creeds to or denominational institutions but to the ideal of love. How we love one another and our God should be how we judge the worthiness of our churches and our own faithfulness.

In the end, however, this is not a battle over theology. It is a battle over the Constitution.

Don’t let Rick Warren and his friends take your religious liberty away. People of faith have a special responsibility to speak out now and be heard so that religion is not misused to justify discrimination. We should be about the work of setting the captives free.

Notice how Pastor Chuck sets up the false dichotomy between “adherence to creeds and institutions” and “the ideal of love.”

The problem is, without the creeds and institutions how does anybody know what love consists of?

I think Chuck is falling into the trap of sentimentality.

Without the guidance of theology, creeds and institutions called churches love can only be whatever individuals say it is, and whatever they say it is must be determined by whatever they feel at a particular time. Furthermore, “love” must include the tolerate of whatever everybody else says is “Love”. If there is not theology, no creed or no church authority to decide the boundaries and limits of “love” then love is whatever anyone says it is and the only “loving” thing is to put up with it and go with the flow.

In fact if Pastor Chuck were to think things through he would have to accept that “love” has limits. Would Chuck accept pedophile “love” if the person involved told him it was love and that he felt it was love? Would Pastor Chuck tolerate sado-masochistic “love”? What about “love” with prostitutes, rent boys or “bug chasers” (those are promiscuous homosexuals who try to get or transmit AIDS on purpose) We could continue with a whole range of depravity that might be termed “love”. But the point of the argument is that everybody but the devil agrees that love has limits.

If this is the case, then one has to ask who sets the limits? Is it simply arbitrary? Is it random? Is it whatever happens to be legal?

No. Society has established limits to love for very good reasons. Religions have also established limits to love for very good reasons.

Creeds and institutions have people called moral theologians who argue about these things and help come up with answers.

Pastor Chuck needs to remember that although it makes a very pretty song, Love is NOT all you need.