In Order to Love Well, Love Must Become Objective

(The writer’s views on the subject have changed drastically since originally posting on June 26, 2019, and he would deal with this subject more carefully if he were to rewrite it today. Nevertheless, it will remain posted because the author wishes to not hide who he used to be. Thank you for your charity in reading.)

Love is an interesting topic. An important topic. And a widely misunderstood (or differently interpreted) topic. And it’s accepted this way.

Love is accepted as a subjective reality. Of course, it exists. Love’s existence is undeniable to most, but it exists in how you see fit for it to exist. Is this the best way to approach Love? Can Love be defined? Confined to a box? I insist that it does and it must in order for us to love well.

I don’t have any empirical data on this phenomenon, but I think it’s safe to assume that love is paraphrased in definition more than any other concept. Just turn on the latest RomCom posted to Netflix and I’m sure there will be a new paraphrase given by the mom of the protagonist explaining that what she’s experiencing is not love and it is time for her (the protagonist) to move on in her search for True Love. According to Anna from the movie, Frozen, ‘Love is an open door.’ Whatever that means.

The conservative movement has its own idea of love, as does the liberal movement. Atheists and theists alike (or not so alike)have their own grasp of ‘love’ as do adherers of the popular saying ‘love wins’ and even that has different understandings, as one advocates the Pride movement and another is an interpretation of God’s love that may or may not be widely regarded as Christian heresy.

Plato contemplated the meaning of love in his “Phaedrus” and Paul, the apostle, gave us the wedding verse when he wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4a, NIV).

I don’t know what you’ve come to understand about love, but I assume you’ve had experiences that have come to shape your definition of love and I’m sure that its a good conception. A noble conception. Well-intentioned and benevolent in nature. But I’m sure that there lies some subjectivity in that apprehension. There lies subjectivity in my apprehension of love as well.

My intent is not to argue for what an objective Love looks like, of course, I do believe in one, but instead, I hope to refute the notion, “love is love.” Of course, to assume the existence of an objective love also assumes the reality of objective truth, which Friedrich Nietzsche pronounced dead when he issued the death of God. That’s a topic for a rainy day. Today, we’re discussing love. But given what I’ve just assumed then it is absolutely necessary that I confront Nietzsche’s death of God in order to explain the importance of objective truth in this claim as I’ve said objective love lies within objective truth (and vice-versa, we will see), so let’s give a paragraph or two to this concept. First the quote:

Nietzsche makes the claim in his work, The Gay Science,

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Whether you’re a theist, atheist, or somewhere in between, this quote should rattle you to the core. Nietzsche, the great philosopher, an atheist, and critic of the Christian faith, was not suggesting that God had actually died. He never believed in the existence of a god, to begin with. (Or did he?) What he’s actually advocating is that the belief of the masses had turned from objective truth, a higher power, God, to faith in subjective truth, my truth, your truth, and to what Nietzsche hints at, the death of objective morality. Obviously, there is still an understanding of objective truth, namely science, but as far as a higher power is concerned, well, we don’t talk about it. With the death of objective morality, so too, the end of objective love.

With no intention of taking a slant against the LGBT community, its a wonderful example of the effects of disregarding objective morality (not to assume people within this community can’t or don’t believe in objective morality, but inversely many believe this to be objectively immoral given current U.S. political legislation). The LGBT community popularized “Love is Love” or ‘your love is your love’ just the same as “My truth, your truth.” And while I’m not here to advocate for any stance on the morality of the LGBT community, an interesting phenomenon occurred months ago showing the adverse effects of “Love is Love,” in which there was a fight to change it to LGBTP, in which the P stands for pedosexual.

A group of pedophiles was fighting to be culturally acceptable. Luckily, the majority of the LGBT community hastily shut the door on their efforts. But the questions have to be raised, “If love is love, why is this wrong?” and “Why do we know this is wrong?” Because there is an objective morality and its deeper than what culture accepts. Being pedosexual may be culturally acceptable in fifty years, lying and cheating may be deemed as appropriate in the future, this does not make it moral.

Love is not love. And thank God for that. Because when love is subjective, it places love in my control and that’s too great a burden to carry. When love is subjective, great hells awaken on earth and they’re accepted! Slavery, bigotry, murder, adultery and the list goes on. The same goes for truth and morality, those are great responsibilities to carry out and even greater a burden when you have to create and submit to your own understandings of these.

Subjective love has no foundation in which to cling. It’s arbitrary. It’s a distorted ideal. It’s throwing a blanket over your monster. It’s a lie.

Find Objective Love, Truth, and Morality and submit to it and you will begin to find that those around you will begin to flourish because of your commitment to loving well.

Maybe this is what the Christ meant when He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV) Possibly, likely, He meant sacrifice your desires for the good of those you love, though He took laying His life down quite literally.

In order to love well, love must become objective. To love means to speak the truth always and to seek what is best, not what will make you most likable, for those you love. As Paul says of the love I believe to be the objective, the love of the Christian God, of Yahweh, “[Love]is not self-seeking.” And if you’ve submitted to the Truth that I’ve submitted myself to, you’ll find that the Truth is only true if it’s loving in nature. In this faith, Truth is loving and Love is truthful. And it’s objective.

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Robert Hinkle

Robert Hinkle

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Shaping a religious imagination. On Twitter and Instagram @hinkle3_trey. Writing more frequently on Substack: treyhinkle.substack.com