Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

Love your enemies? Bless those that curse you?

At the Corner today:

"TOLERANCE" [Rich Lowry]

I thought Mel Gibson was good on the O'Reilly Factor, even if he seemed a little worn down. One thing caught my ear. He said that what he had learned from the whole experience is "tolerance." That was the wrong word. What he really meant is that he has learned love and forgiveness. As he said later in the interview, he loves his critics, even if he doesn't like them. When O'Reilly said that he forgives his own "enemies" but doesn't love them, Gibson tried to explain that that isn't enough, that if you don't love them, you will be consumed by their hatred. This is a profound point that gets at a phenomenon much deeper than mere "tolerance," especially as that word is thrown around today. Gibson was talking about the transformative power of love.

It is easy to confuse "love" as an emotion. When we say we love someone, we expect to have some feeling, some affection, some high regard for that person we say we love. When we, as Christians, don't feel that way at all towards our enemies, we think we're weak, sinful, backsliding faillures at our faith.

But Oh contraire, love is not necessarily an emotion but an attitude, a practice, a regard.

For example, I despise the politics of many people, and I despise the way so many people reject truth; sometimes it angers me a great deal when I see the harm that certain politics and lack of truth does to others or will do. But I still love those I disagree with.

How? Because what I want for them is what I want for all -- the best possible human perception of reality. I want slaves to be free. I want the sick to be healed. I want prisoners unchained, and the blind to see. I want to welcome every soul into the kingdom of heaven, and so I hold no grudges.

If I was truly angry and consumed with hatred for enemies, I would reject them no matter what they did to amend or repent their lives. While a man is sick, my love is to offer the balm of healing, but if it is rejected I have no special or sweet feeling for the person. I have no sincere smile of acceptance for him. In fact, I regret and despise his choice. But I will always hold out the Truth to him. I just won't throw it before swine.

Men are fools and swine. There's no point in trying to work up a sweet feeling for such people. There will come a point in one's prayer life when grace will help one see the divine in every person, and have a holy feeling for even a vomitous, feces stained drunk lying in the gutter, but that moment of grace is meant to inform and confirm the truth of every human soul. It is not intended to be a perpetual "feeling" of tenderness and desire to kiss the leper's sores.

Men must often go into battle having no real animus toward the fellows across the field, yet they must kill them even so. It does not mean they hate or lack love toward their enemies anymore than the policeman who kills a criminal who means to harm another hates the brute. It is not "hateful" for the state to execute a criminal.

Love does not mean tolerance. In this world it means Measure.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:51 AM |