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Universal Love and Christian Religious Love

(Please note: Christianity is exampled here, but all religious groups apply to this essay)



Today there is much hate, vindictive action and mayhem being shown by man to his fellow men. With the loss of trust between people, because of the loss of privacy, and the fanatical partisanship shown in religious sects, people are breaking down, and perpetrating atrocities 1 . The self-righteous elitism shown by religions, which have become “exclusive clubs”, leaves people forlorn, and clinging to small sanctimonious groups at odds with the rest of society. In short, there seems to be lack or a total absence of love in the interactions of men in their varied societies. When I say this we all know intuitively what I mean by love; by that I mean we all have a “working knowledge” of love by which we can recognize it’s absence in each of the scenarios I have mentioned above. Yet in knowing this, we still see these things happening today in Christian societies where all the different churches preach “love.” Although that working knowledge of love allows us to understand its absence, it does not necessarily allow us to understand what its application entails; and because of this, the application of love in today’s world is not what it should be, and I am sorry to say it is often the fault of Christian religions in preaching the kind of love they preach, which has precluded this same application of love in so many of today’s situations which require it.

I will speak below specifically about Christian religions because these are the ones with which I have the most experience; other religions must compare their form of love to that “Christian love” I will speak about to understand if what I say below also applies to them.

Having said this in preface, I will now give a definition of what I mean by Universal Love:

Universal Love 2 is a kind of love which applies to all humans equally. It makes no distinctions in its application. It is freely given and expects nothing in recompense. It is outside the realm of good or bad, or even right or wrong, and being such is totally outside the realm of justice or judgment. It has only one other applicable referent, God or a supreme being. Because of these particular attributes, it is also outside the realm of what we call evil, and therefore a participant can never perform evil actions. Although I have defined it in terms of its actions or behavior, it is a feeling which enables the donor to become as one with the recipient; and in this way completely take up the viewpoint of the recipient. It is a “hard love”; by this I mean that it is not “easy” to achieve, and must be learned through gradual application. It is “hard” because it goes against the benefit of the “self” in its application. Its true application, entails complete denial of “self”.

The most important word in the above definition is “freely”; Universal Love must be “freely” given and freely accepted. And this is the very place where Christian religious love promoted by the Churches fail. Why?

They fail because the love they promote is a contractual love. By that I mean that as in all contracts, conditions are applied to it. What is even worse this love provides “conditions” both for its application and its reception.

To belong to any Christian religion today you must make certain promises to that God to receive His love and belong to His Church. You must accept Him, for Him to accept you; there is here a bartering of loves. And even though the second great commandment says that you must love your neighbor as yourself, which implies the Universal Love I mention above; 3 the actual love that is implied by all Churches is one that depends on the condition of getting love in return.

The other “conditions” are ones tied to laws. The existence of “canon laws” in Churches have been produced because of the ideas of religion as a government, or a religious nation of the “chosen”, which is a carry over of the kind of religion the ancient Hebrews had. 4

This creates a love of “exclusion”; those being excluded are not of the “chosen”, and love does not extend to them, at least not in the same manner as it is offered to the “chosen”. In all of this we see the division of man into different groups with different rights and obligations in giving and receiving love.

Does any of this sound like the love the Christ spoke of, that same non-judgmental love that made one turn the other cheek to an enemy, or love one’s neighbor as self; or judge not lest ye be judged? True the scriptures have mixed in the idioms and meanings as tied to the people they were written for, into the very words of Christ; but then Christ was a Jew, speaking to other Jews of His time. Yet His life and death echo not that limited conditional love but that very same Universal Love I speak of above. He gave His life for man in total and absolute denial of self, as an example of the type of love He meant. His whole life was a reaction against the indirect implied bigotry of the chosen, and their religious government or nation. He said: Render to Caesar the things that are his, and to God those that are His. His acceptance of the Centurion at Capernum; His picking the disciples from the lowest of men, not the most exalted; all of this echoed His rejection of the barriers between men, and the artificial separations men created between themselves.

Yet Christian Churches have today continued dividing men with the details of “Clubs” and religious bureaucracies that divide men by Canon Laws and participation in rituals, and thereby limit God’s love. 5

Christ’s message to all was very simple: love without limits of any kind and freely given to all without exception.

It is not a great step from this to the understanding that this is indeed the only way for man to heal the tragedies his societies now produce on this earth, and finally break down the barriers of hate, economic depravation, nationalism and war.

It is the job of religions to extinguish the differences between men for all time and bring all the peoples of the earth together as a single people under a single God; and that can only be done through the love I mention above – Universal Love.

Further, we must see that in creating groups of people that are in some ways better than others, either through preference or partisanship, we are in turn fueling the fires of hate instead of love; for all people look to their own groups first, and see other groups as foreign to them, and that is the very way hate and resentment grows. If anything Christ tried to bring people together, not alienate some from others; this was His very meaning in the passage “the first shall be last and the last first”. Preference is what He did not want shown; but preference is what is shown in the partisanship and the doctrinal division shown by His Churches today. If we create laws to exclude then we shall be hated by those excluded.

Although trust is rarely mentioned in scriptures, there is no doubt that it is of paramount importance to the uniting of people; but it must not be generated by preference or partisanship. This will only breed division and the absence of trust outside the group.

Finally why do I tout the furtherance of a love which is so hard to achieve? This Universal Love is rarely achieved today, yet I say that it must be the goal of all religions. This “hard” love must be attempted for only in the attempt is there the essence of the harmony and “giving” needed to bring this splintered world together. It is the only love that will generate the trust needed to bring humanity together. Every time it is offered, whether it is achieved or not, it allows men to take the first step needed to bring them together. That first step will build the trust needed in others to also take that step, and thus humanity will begin to reach out to his brothers and sisters in the ways which will finally bring them together, instead of alienating them.

Like the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream; that dream, that one day all the earth will be united in this very love that Christ heralded; and that all humanity will look on itself as a single people with only a single “cause”, the cause to keep humanity together.




FOOTNOTES

To return to note's origin click the footnote number at left



1 The atrocities, we see perpetrated today, are being caused by people feeling they have the right to “police” their neighbors, and pry into the private lives of others. This is caused by religions making people self-righteous in their attitudes to those outside their groups. People who see themselves as better than others try to point out “faults” in others; deride other people's actions; and thus they are, in effect acting as “vigilantes” outside of societal law. When people begin to gossip and spread rumors about others, especially using the invasive technology available, there will be a total loss of trust in all societal interactions with the resulting tragedies occurring. Religions in backing elitism are sowing the eventual seeds of hurt that will destroy the trust society needs to continue on. Unfortunately, in today’s world, religious people primarily look to scriptures and Holy books as the place to find the ways to act toward others. But actually inside of us lies the real tool for defining our actions to others: it is this same Universal Love that allows us to use both pain and hardship, and joy and elation, as the measuring rods to create our interactions with others. By knowing the hearts of others through it, we know the heart of God Himself, and can always act rightly.



2 In a prior essay on Love I equate this with perfect innocence, and say that it is like a reverie in the oneness of life. Universal Love exists in the hearts of all humans, although it may be narrowed out of consciousness through the self. It is the source of the agency I call the GOOD. It is very hard to experience or give, because it is in essence at odds with the self or survival instinct in man.

[I think that it should be understood that although I call this love, Universal Love, it really is nothing more than the same love that exists in all. I designate it by a special name to contrast its definition with the definition of the "contractual" love that has become synonymous with the definition of love because of the "governmental" and "club" attributes which today's religions have assumed.]

Something important must be understood in the practice of this kind of love. The practice of this form of love is equitable even with the self, in that it is not a self-destructive love. A love of self-immolation is not what is meant here; needless to say, if we give away all our belongings to help someone else, and in this process make ourselves destitute, we are only acting stupidly, for we will then need someone else's help for ourselves. Christ's sacrifice was a symbol of a supreme sacrifice, not often encountered. True at times of crisis such an act may be needed, but it is not planned or thought to be self-destructive; it is an emergency response, meant to save all, not just one; if it ends in self-immolation than that is an unplanned accident. Thus are the acts of heroism on the battlefield; they are not meant to be suicidal, only helpful. When this love becomes self-destructive it is then a type of hurtful not loving action, in that there is always an intrinsic value in all life that should not needlessly be wasted.



3 Religions, in the very act of making conditions for acceptance for “membership”, are promoting a contractual love, in fact those that “excommunicate” are denying love to a person because of some violation of rules of membership. They are by doing these things, and by making religion a type of “club” of the chosen, violating the definition of Universal Love. Universal Love is as close as a human can get to the “perfect” or “unlimited love” of God. Yet all Christian Churches say that there are limits on God’s love by assuming a membership is needed.



4 When Christ said that the two Great Commandments, those that were founded on Love, were the basis of all the law and the prophets; He meant that the love He heralded was the only important law that would bring all the chosen (all humanity) together.



5 The Catholic Church has introduced the institution of Confession as a way to reconcile those who are wayward with God, but in doing this within the “Club” of their religion they have excluded God’s forgiveness from those outside their religion, further alienating the righteous within their own society and limiting God’s love to all. Further the Sacrements are rituals which are "intra" religious and therefore exclusive to Catholicism, another exclusive practice.

Intra-religious practices are not bad in themselves as long as they are shown as being alternatives to reaching God; not "the only way".



LOVE SERIES ESSAYS

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Rostra
Rostra

Originally Published:

April 20, 2009

Revised:

July 4, 2014