“Love is love” is a popular slogan and yard sign.
Ask yourself this basic question: Can one oppose the moral or natural law and live an authentic life of love?
According to St Thomas Aquinas, God created the world through his love. John Paul II reiterates this in his Theology of the Body, and therefore in the human body are found the signs of God’s love. In John Paul II’s first Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, we read, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.” Love is the key, even to his encyclical on moral theology, Veritatis Splendor. We may then regard love as the overall interpretive key to the writings of Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II.
If mankind, men and women, cannot live without love then we best seek the truth of love, or it seems that we run the risk of living in a world filled with a lot of unhappy people. If the slogan love is love, moves us to seek the truth of what love is, then it may be on to something. On the other hand, if what is implied is that love has no meaning or truth other than one’s own subjective feelings, if it is anything or everything, where does that leave us? If love has been reduced to subjective feelings and emotions, does that mean that my love will be different than the person who is the object of my love? What’s more how will two people with their subjective feelings and emotions in constant flux, each seeking their own self-fulfillment, ever build a life and a family together?
Confused? You may not find much clarity among theologians and Church leaders who have themselves jumped on the progressive bandwagon and embraced their own versions of love in an age of moral relativism. Some new age Theologians and Shepherds in the Church teach that moral law is somehow opposed to the law of love, as though love can in some ways surpass the moral law, rendering it meaningless. Love is love. If love is subjective and has no concrete reality, then is the love that every human being desires just an illusion? Is the human heart being mocked by some perverse accident of evolution? Perhaps. As a beautiful young woman confided to me after her boyfriend walked out of her life when she wouldn’t agree to abort their child, “it felt like love until it didn’t, I was told sex was love, and found it wasn’t. Will my child and I ever experience what it means to be loved for our own sakes?”
If you are an adult reading this, please know that I respect your God given freedom to voice your own “opinion”, but it makes little difference to me. I’m not writing about opinions, and in fact there is one opinion that I especially don’t want to consider – my own. For like you I grew up in this culture of death, where opinions, lies, and distortions simply flow in and out like the ocean tide, or are carried along by ever changing winds of the spirit of the age. “Each generation imagines itself,” as George Orwell wrote, “to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that will come after it.” It seems that the so-called modern mind, declaring that there is no truth, only your truth or my truth, has once again forgotten the lessons of history and embraced an old story: “The serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil’” (Gen 3:4-5).
Ever since men and women lost Eden, a brutal war was unleashed against humanity. It did not take long after the fall for Cain to kill his brother Abel. Today “we the people” elect politicians who promise they will legislate their opinion into law granting its citizens the right to murder their children in the “safety” of their mother’s womb. For those children fortunate enough to be born, next up in the human pulverization line are the teachers unions, local school boards and districts that use our tax dollars to pay teachers to promote pornography and gender ideologies, starting in kindergarten. Or still more baffling, what of the parents who look the other way? While we must all fight for our children’s right to a quality education and demand that teachers leave the pornography and their ideologies at the door, we are also keenly aware that we are in a spiritual battle that will ultimately only be won on our knees. Saint Paul clearly understood that the real enemy is not our neighbor, but the serpent who successfully tempted them. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:11-12).
We are engaged in a definitive battle between the forces of the culture of life and the culture of death. In this battle there will be no grand leader or political force riding in on a great white stallion to rescue humanity. Yet there is a hero, or better, millions of heroes. That hero is you, and the millions of others, who choose to be a force for truth and goodness in the world. In some sense we all stand before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and are called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, “the true light that enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9), people become “light in the Lord” and “children of the light” (Eph 5:8) and are made by “obedience to the truth” (1 Peter 1:22).
This obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), mankind is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God to direct it towards idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and skepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself. (Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II, No. 1)
He will not find it.
The gift of the ten commandments was a promise and a sign of the New Covenant, in which the law would be written on the human heart (Jer 31:31-34), replacing the law of sin which had disfigured the heart (Jer 17:1). Jesus brings God’s commandments to fulfillment, particularly the commandment of love of neighbor, by interiorizing their demands and by bringing out their fullest meaning. Love of neighbor springs from a loving heart which, precisely because it loves, is ready to live out the loftiest challenges…Jesus shows that the commandments are a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14). Thus the commandment “You shall not murder” becomes a call to an attentive love that protects and promotes the life of one’s neighbor. (Veritatis Splendor, No. 15.) Especially the most innocent among us, the child still within the “safety or safe place”, that our culture demands for itself, but fails to provide for its children. Who stands for them? Is ‘love is love ‘just a slogan to do with self-indulgence or does it include the best interests of our children?
Are parents who stand up to local school boards to protect their children from being desensitized, groomed, and ultimately victimized by pornography and gender ideologies haters and terrorists? Or are they simply people with the courage to stand against the “principalities, the powers, and the world rulers of this present darkness?” Are they haters because they do not believe that a man can become pregnant and breastfeed a child? Does truth and concrete reality not matter anymore? “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim 4:3-5).
In the Gospel of Matthew, we come upon this incredible scene where a rich young man comes up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” and he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good (God). If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which?” and Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?”
The young rich man, despite thinking that he has kept all the commandments, continues to desire ‘something more’ and experiences the “law written on his heart.” Jesus knows this of course and while probing the rich man’s heart said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions (Matt 19:16-22).
I would challenge all who believe that love is love, to invite Jesus Christ, who searches hearts, into yours. The commandments of which Jesus reminds the young man are meant to safeguard the good of the person, the image of God, by protecting his goods. “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness” are moral rules formulated in terms of prohibitions. These negative precepts express with particular force the ever urgent need to protect human life, the communion of persons in marriage, private property, truthfulness, and people’s good name. (Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II, No. 13.)
The commandments thus represent the basic condition for love of neighbor; at the same time they are proof of that love. They are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting point. “The beginning of freedom”, Saint Augustine writes, “is to be free from crimes…such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. (VS No. 13.)
It is only in true freedom that we are free to love. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor, especially the most innocent among us. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2055; Romans 13:9-10.)
Our reason for doing what we do at the John Paul II Renewal Center is simple. We want to bring the Gospel of Love to the young people of today, who are growing up without hope in a very twisted, distorted, and toxic culture. They have been repeatedly lied to about the very basics concerning the meaning of marriage, the family, what authentic love is, the true meaning of sex and sexuality, and much more. This has left many of them anxious, depressed, and even hopeless to the point of considering suicide. How many lives could be saved if we were not afraid to tell them the truth? Pope John Paul II said, “the more the world deprives young people of what is true, good, and beautiful, the more earnestly will they yearn for it. The vacuum of modern secularism is actually a fragrant invitation for young people to rediscover the sacred.”
Someone must be willing to proclaim the Gospel to them.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus; preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:1-2).