In the modern world, love is a word much talked about. We are literally bombarded in the media and popular culture with songs and pictures of what is presented as love. People seek for love in the most unlikely places, whether bars, bookstores or online. Some, in a desperate search for what is after all simple human companionship, resort to personal ads. All of these efforts are product of the alienation, disconnection and loneliness characteristic of capitalist Western culture and particularly in huge impersonal urban areas.
When we speak of love, we often have reference to romantic love connected with marriage. This romantic love has its origins in the Middle Ages in the idea of courtly love. Romantic love has been decimated if not destroyed by the feminist movement, the idea of the sameness, and equality of the sexes, the sexual revolution and the emphasis on sex alone which has come to dominate all forms of literature print and visual.
Of course, it must be said that marriage to some extent is an economic exchange having little to do with the romantic ideal of sex and marriage. Romantic love can be confused with sexual erotic love which is not truly love at all. Erotic love or sexual love is one of many loves we may come to know and understand throughout our lifetimes. There is also love between friends based on equality and equal exchange; unconditional love of a parent for a child; love between siblings, sisters and brothers; love for the animal, dog or cat; and there is also love for nature which is often expressed in great poetry. Finally we come to charity, love of God, the greatest of all loves. It must be said that we can confuse love with receiving and obtaining from others and for many of us, this is what we think love is. This is the selfish love of a child. In fact, love is giving and seeking the good of another. Thus, it must be said that the love of a parent for a child and the love of God for his creatures and creation is the most real of loves involving as it does giving, caring, and sacrifice. At the end of it all, the loves we have and have built throughout our lifetime are crushed and taken from us by death. Death ends all of our loves. However, for the Christian, there is an ultimate answer to the destruction and death of our lives. God is love and He creates and sustains us because he wants to share his infinite and abounding mercy and love. In Christ, we are shown the face of God’s cosmic love. In Psalm 89:48, the Psalmist asks the question: “what man is he that liveth and shall not see death.” The answer of Christ is found in his statement, “I am the man in whom whosoever abideth shall not see death” (John 11:25-26). One might simply say that since God is undying love, the only place outside of heaven where we can be safe from the dangers and pangs of love is in hell itself.