Partitioning Love

Love is something everyone would agree is good and the world needs more of it.  I don’t think any sane person has said there is too much love in the world, this reaches across cultural, religious, and political boundaries.  In recent months I’ve come across commentators saying that people love their pets too much, these people will say animals should be kept in their rightful spot.  Essentially, they can be loved but not too much.  Some within Christian circles will warn against loving our families too much lest we commit idolatry.  I say this as a Christian myself, these are flawed views coming from good intentions.

Love doesn’t have to be a credit line that runs out if dished out incorrectly.  With some people, that may be true, but that is an issue with them and their heart.  I do not think by default there is a set limit on how much a person can love.  I love and cherish my dog, she is a wonderful blessing and is very much a part of my family.  Do I love her more than people?  That is a false dichotomy.  I can love my dog and people.  It is simply a different form of love.  Of course, my wife and son’s lives are vastly more important to me than my dog’s.  That doesn’t mean I have to withhold love and somehow divert it to my wife and son instead.

The same is true of loving God from a Christian standpoint.  I don’t have to withhold love for people in order to make Him a priority.  That is rather absurd thinking.  I understand the logic of some people who fear that loving our families and making time for them can supplant our time with the Lord.  Yes, that is possible to let things and people interfere with our relationship with God but loving our families too much isn’t the issue.  We are called to love people, in fact Scripture says that loving people is a way to love God.  It is asinine to think that loving a person is somehow idolatry.  Loving our spouses and children are what we are supposed to do, withholding love for them and directing it to God is a warped idea of how love operates or what idolatry is.  There can be an entire discussion on idolatry and how that term is used and abused in modern Christianity but that is a discussion for another time.

We need to stop being afraid of loving.  There is no such thing as loving too much.  Loving your dog or cat a lot doesn’t mean you put them above the people you cherish.  Are there people who have an unhealthy affection for their pets?  Sure, I don’t doubt that.  There will always be negative examples of every kind of issue.  Love doesn’t have to be partitioned, it is only limited if we limit it ourselves.  If folks do love their dog more than their spouse or children then that is a problem, but I doubt that is the norm or wide-spread.  The problem isn’t how much we love as a species but often how little.

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