Happy late Valentine’s Day, the day of the year where everyone focuses on “love.”
But do we really understand what love is?
We hear the phrase thrown around a lot today that “Love is love.”
Is that true?
What is love, and how do we properly love others?
Dr. Timothy Brown, Director of Southern Evangelical Bible College, helps us think through these and other questions in Episode 105 of Why Do You Believe?
What Is Love?
In order to flesh out an accurate understanding of love, we must first commit to a philosophical foundation from which to do inquiry.
Whether we realize it or not, we are using philosophy all the time. Philosophy is intimately at work in our daily lives, whether it be our interpretation of data, our reasoning processes, our decisions about which beliefs to commit ourselves, and myriad other instances.
So, a sound understanding of aspects of life, including theology, rests in our ability to recognize the philosophical assumptions and methodologies we are using either consciously or unconsciously when we seek to understand the nature of God and his creation.
In the interest of getting to what a proper understanding of love is, Dr. Brown introduces us to Thomism, the philosophical system of Thomas Aquinas, and the philosophical framework we engage from at Southern Evangelical Seminary.
Aquinas described love as concerning man’s “appetites,” or desires for something.
“Love is the principle of movement toward the end loved.”
In other words, love is the movement toward a goal. But the movement toward just any goal is not sufficient for it to be love – the goal must be “good.” In the context of loving others, we desire a good goal for them.
But what – or who — determines what is good? Aquinas has an answer for that as well. The nature of the thing loved – the nature given to it by its Creator — determines what is good for it. Goodness is not relative or subjective, but objectively determined by the nature of the thing.
Good vs. Evil
The nature of a thing acts as a guide for how to love it. In light of a human being’s free will and rational faculties, this “natural law” renders every action taken by a human being a moral action, for as Dr. Brown points out:
“…every action we undertake is a moral action… because all actions have a moral component in that they either seek the good and avoid the evil, or they pursue the evil and frustrate the good.”
Given this, it becomes vital to accurately determine the nature of a thing so that we may love it in a way that honors its nature and leads to its good.
Don’t miss the full interview with Dr. Timothy Brown where this determination is explored, and if you’re ready to examine your faith intellectually and give reasons for your hope in Christ, consider SES by downloading our free e-book below.