Preliminary Sketch of a Christian Ethic of Love

“Love is indeed a free choice, but love is not love if it is a commandment.”

If one defines love as ‘a nice feeling towards someone,’ you would be right. However, that is not the only thing that love is – love is action. Feelings may or may not follow, but that doesn’t really matter in the context of Christianity. Love in Christianity is action – ‘agape.’ So, yes, love absolutely can be commanded, and still remain love – it’s status of being free or commanded does not dictate that it is in fact love.

1. Love as defined by Christ is action – ‘agape,’ or, more loosely defined, charity – it is conscious acts of goodwill or charity done to another human being for their own good regardless of my own personal desire to do such acts.

2. Charity’s charity-ness is not dependent on feelings of charity/love/happiness, as demonstrated below:

(2a) – I can give a homeless man 10 dollars with a smile on my face or while in a bad mood, while storming mad or amazingly in love and it doesn’t change the fact that I was, in fact, charitable. Charity’s charity-ness obviously does not depend on how I feel. I am not restricted from being charitable in any meaningful way by simple virtue of not feeling charitable – I may not want to, but that is simply a feeling, and does not actually restrict my ability to to give the homeless man 10 dollars.

3. It follows from (2a) that if charity is not dependent on whether or not I feel like it, that I can be commanded to be charitable, and it will indeed be charity, since my own say in the matter does not rob it of its virtue.

4. Christ commands charity, regardless of whether or not one feels like it, and a Christian, if he truly means to follow Christ, will keep his commands, as evidenced by Scripture.

(4a) If I carry out this duty of charity commanded by Christ, it is indeed still charity, since it is demonstrated above that whether or not I personally want to be charitable, or whether or not it is an act of my own will or a command does not negate or validate any charitable act or rob it of its own virtue.

(4b) Charity-ness is thus seen not to depend on my own desire to be charitable.

5. Thus, love, as defined by Christ, can indeed be a commandment, and does not require me to want or to even have any say in the matter, since charity in Christianity is a duty, and this duty commanded by Christ.


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