What is Love?
by H.H. Pope Shenouda III
H.H. Pope Shenouda III discusses the concept of love in the Orthodox Christian sense for modern youth.
is to be directed first to God
If we wish to understand love in its true scriptural foundations, we must set before us (and understand) the following truth:
Love should be directed to God, before anyone or anything else This is what God revealed to us in the Book of Deutoronomy: "..." (Duet 6:5)
So then, if this love to God is from the whole heart, is there any room left for any other love? How can we love anything else, if the whole heart is for God?! The only answer is that our love for everyone and everything is through our love for God.
When we have given the whole heart to God, within our love to God, we love everyone. That is why when asked about the greatest commandment, Christ replied, (Matt 22:37-39)
Why did He say, "The second is like it"? Because it is through the love of God... It is part of it... It is not separate from the first commandment...
Hence, any love outside of the love of God is a sinful love. What if this (second) love was greater than out love for God?! Our Lord answers us saying, (Matt 10:37)
Any love that is greater than the love of God, prefers a person or a thing more than God Himself. We can therefore label it as "A sinful love", because it interferes with the love of God. It is a love that is stronger than the love of God!!! Is that appropriate?!
In this situation, the whole heart is not given to God (and hence breaks the first commandment). This "sinful love" becomes a "stranger" in your heart. A stranger never dwells in one place forever. If you want to love someone or something forever, make sure this love is through the love of God; i.e. fulfill the first commandment first, and then you will be able to include the second love through your love to God...
Types of Love:
There are many different types of love:
A relationship may involve a feeling of admiration. Admiration is different from love. You may admire a sports champion, but that does not mean you love him/her. You may admire an author. You like his thoughts and/or writing style, without having a personal relationship with the author. An intellectual relationship may develop (that ties your thoughts with his/her thoughts), but this is still not love. If this relationship evolved into love, it will be love for his/her ideas and/or style, but not his/her person.
Love is the meeting of two hearts, or the bonding of two hearts through the same feelings or emotions. In order for this to be a sacred love, these emotions should be within the sphere of the love of God; it should not contradict nor surpass it.
If love is o�ne-sided o�nly, there must be a problem (e.g. incompatibility), because love always gives birth to love [i.e. it will create a mutual feeling.] Love must be spiritual, wiseand prudent, because there are certain kinds of "love" that cause trouble.
True love must be pure. Here, we can distinguish between love and desire (lust.) Love always wants to give, but desire always wants to take.
Look at yourself and your relationship with the opposite sex. Is it a relationship of love or lust?!
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