One of the worst things about our culture is the degradation of language. Words have become extremely vague. And because they are vague, they are unusable.
The most obvious example is love. In our society, the word “love” is a synonym for “orgasm”. This is why homosexuals can claim that love wins, because society’s condonation of their illicit lifestyle has won. It has nothing to do with being open and vulnerable with another human. It’s all about having as much sex with as many people as possible. That’s real love!
One of the things that really makes me groan is when men in dog shit marriages insist that they love their fat, bitchy wife. But of course he loves her. She has sex with him. That’s what love means. You can’t love someone without having sex with them.
And that’s also why people get divorced. They quit having sex. Which means they no longer love each other. You can’t love each other until death does you part if you no longer love each other. If the other person isn’t having sex with you, then they’ve broken their half of the contract.
Which is all marriage is. Just a contract. Two people sign some papers promising to have sex forever. There’s nothing deeper or sacred about it. Nothing supernatural happens at the courthouse. No mystical union between two souls. It’s just two best friends who have sex and share a bank account.
Most marriages are just roommates who fuck each other. That’s why it doesn’t matter what your spouse’s past is. Not only should you overlook the five guys who tag-teamed her up the ass, it’s none of your business. There’s nothing to forgive — because someone’s body belongs entirely to themselves, and it’s no one else’s business what they do with it. Unless, of course, they have a contract from the courthouse agreeing to only allow the other person on the contract to use their body as a masturbation aid.
Sex today has nothing to do with openness. It’s not about two people at their most vulnerable and exposed becoming one with each other. It’s just a man jacking off into a woman’s body. The whole point in game is to entertain her enough where she decides she owes you the privilege of pretending you love her.
And she likes it, too. Women love nothing more than being reduced to a fleshlight. They won’t admit it, but just look at how they dress and act. Women love sex. They love it even more than men. A few women have some ability to veto their sex drive, but these are mythical creatures.
But that’s because women have more capacity for love than men. That’s why we need a woman president. They have a greater capacity for empathy and mercy. They love everyone. That’s why they will have sex with anyone who can make them laugh.
Stepping back outside the world of satire, the word “love” needs a definition. However, there are different contexts for love, even within genuine Biblical love. The way a parent loves a child is not the same kind of love a man has for his wife.
Let’s identify six genres of (real) love, in descending order of strength:
- Other Familial
The strongest bond of love should be that a husband and wife have for each other. The second is how a parent or grandparent has for their descendants. These two are based on animalistic affection, but the actual love is a choice (more on that below).
The third is what someone has for other family members, such as cousins and parents. These have an element of animal nature, but they are can be eroded and are ultimately a choice.
Mentorship is how someone feels for a person, usually younger, under their authority that they have invested in. This would be a teacher who has developed some kind of bond with a student. Or a pastor for certain members of his congregation that he has gotten to know. Or an adult who has adopted a child. This kind is almost always reciprocated, usually in equal measure, so I am including the mentor and the mentee in the same category.
Friendship love is when you are able to sacrifice for your friends because of the bond you already share. For example, buying them a drink and listening to them rant after a break up. In some sense, all of the above five categories fall under friendship. Dating someone also falls under this category, not marital.
The final is the love you should show for all of society. This is what Jesus meant by “love your neighbor.” Some of this is tribal preferences, but in general it is purely a choice. You find a $20 bill on the ground. You can put it in your pocket, but you decide to ask first if anyone dropped it.
All six forms of love are choices and fall under the same Biblical umbrella term of “love”. I don’t think it’s possible to perfectly define love, but we can draw some parameters around it. I have put a great amount of thought into this over the years, and I have identified four metrics that all forms of real love must contain:
- You must allow the other person to hurt you.
- You must allow the other person to allow you to hurt them.
All of these are closely related.
Love is about suffering. In order to suffer, you must be open. When you are open, you are vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, you will be hurt.
Our society is full of people who are closed up. They are terrified of being failed by others, and they cannot stand the self esteem hit of failing others themselves. What they are looking for in a partner is someone who shares hobbies and is easy to get along with. Moral quality is only as deep as “don’t lie to me”.
This is why two people who are engaged do not “love” each other (in the Disney sense) — they haven’t suffered with each other through the day-to-day. There’s no commitment to see each other through the worst of times.
And real love does not have a limit to the suffering it is willing to endure. It holds on as long as it needs to.
A parent does not by default love their child. That is just animalistic affection. Most parents do not love their children and are very selfish towards them. Most people treat their children as pets (and their pets as children). Children are just a status symbol. To fully treat this topic would require another article of equal length. Suffice it to say that parents send their kids to 13 years of the great time waste that is public schools because it is cheap and shifts responsibility, and they guilt them into going to college instead of trade school because that’s what society says is the proper thing to do.
Love is a choice. You can have a deep affection for someone. But you in no way love someone until you are willing to endure whatever broken-heartedness they are willing to put on you. Love is being willing to make any sacrifice for the best interest of the other instead of using the other for your best convenience. “No greater love is this, than that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Some people will say, “That’s what parenthood is! It’s all about sacrifice!” Again, that’s for another article. I’m already past 2000 words.
But what about someone who has consistently wronged you? Should you just forgive forever? Surely I don’t expect someone to keep sticking their hand into a blender?
Well that gets to my definition of forgiveness.
I have spent many, many years contemplating the definition of forgiveness. The normal American Christian definition is to just have no bad emotions. Think well of them regardless. Give people an infinite number of second chances.
That’s not forgiveness at all. That’s funneling your emotions into a certain forced facade and then acting on it. It will wreck your relationships and turn you into an atheist.
One former mentor of mine said that forgiveness is “when you can sit next to them and it’s like it’s never even happened.” Today he no longer speaks to me.
True forgiveness is a restoration. My guiding verse is Luke 17:3-4
If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
If he wrongs you, you are to correct him. You aren’t just supposed to ignore it and hope he doesn’t do it again. Maybe small quirks, sure. But a major offense requires a confrontation. It requires you to be assertive and aggressive. But that aggression is to be filtered through love — being open and vulnerable. You aren’t confronting to get revenge or make them feel bad. You are confronting to restore the relationship.
No emotion is inherently good or bad. The only good or bad thing is how you let them control you.
If your brother repents, then you are to forgive him — restore the relationship. If he holds his ground and refuses to apologize, then you should not forgive him. In fact, you cannot forgive him even if you want to. You cannot restore that which desires to stay broken. You cannot undo what the other person did. Because they believe they did nothing wrong, the moral foundation of the relationship has shifted. The terms you must agree on are different.
And then what? Maybe the friendship can survive it. Maybe not. Pretending it didn’t happen just delays the falling out, which will be worse.
To at least view the relationship with integrity is what forgiveness is toward the person who does not desire it.
I remember after Hugh Hefner died, a story was floating around the internet about how when he was a young man, his fiance cheated on him while he was off at war. She said that he could sleep with other women to make it even.
In the world of fairness, that’s forgiveness. He married her anyway (later divorced, obviously). It seems he did his best to think good thoughts of her and forget how she hurt him.
The actual forgiving thing would be to break up with her. The relationship is broken. You cannot undo that kind of betrayal of trust. Perhaps if she was truly repentant, he could overlook it and marry her anyway. But suppressing your anger and calling it forgiveness only leads to destruction for both people. There’s nothing honest in that. Anger is something that has to be worked through.
Part of love is selflessness. Part of selflessness is wanting the best for other people. Part of wanting the best for other people is holding them to a standard. We all need standards in our lives, and we all need people to hold us to them.
To say, “I cannot continue this relationship until you show me the proper respect,” or, “I cannot continue this relationship because the betrayal makes it impossible to ever return to normal,” is an act of love. And perhaps it will cause the person to re-evaluate how they view others.
You cannot expect others to change. You either except them as they are or not at all.
And if a friend is genuinely repentant but has committed too great of an offense for things to ever go back to how they were, to recognize that the relationship is over is an act of honesty, and to tell them bluntly without being bitter is an act of mercy. It’s not being passive-aggressive or trying to hurt them as deeply as they hurt you. To be honest about the nature of the relationship is an act of respect, because you want them to know the truth instead of trying to exploit their emotions.
Forgiveness is restoring the relationship as much as possible without sacrificing integrity. Part of that restoration is rejecting bitterness and not dwelling on what they have done to you. It’s okay to be angry; it’s not okay to let the anger control you.
In some sense, all virtues flow out from each other. If you live your life with integrity, you will eventually find the other virtues. Trying to be emotionally honest with others will lead to love and forgiveness.
Even if you’re being totally selfish, being honest about your selfishness is closer to love than the “my child is special” love our society holds up as virtue. Even if you’re trying to hurt the other person, being honest that you are trying to hurt them will at least protect you both from the fake restorations that churches call forgiveness. And with both of them, you would also be honest that you lack virtue, which might make you consider that you should strive towards virtue, which would lead to selflessness and true forgiveness.
All of this is a choice. It’s not based on emotions, and it’s not trying to manipulate your own emotions. It’s a constant choice on how you will act on those emotions. Love is an action word.