The Ultimate Source of Love
Scripture says, “God is love” (cf. I John 4:8, 16). As love, God is essentially, by nature, self-transcendent, moving out of himself, beyond himself, in an act of self-giving. Similarly, the sacred author writes, “[L]ove comes from God” (I John 4:7b, NIV). Since God is love and since he created human beings in his image, then they, like their Creator, are made to love others. Therefore, the source of all love, whether it is natural or spiritual, non-Christian or Christian, is God.
Love: Inherent to Human Nature
Love is inherent to human nature. In other words, the Creator places the capacity to love in human beings. To exercise that natural capacity is a moral virtue. Natural love is typically or usually expressed in daily human relationships. It is also the moral basis of the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love: The Moral Basis of Human Civilization
But hate “poisons” the soul, producing inner discord and outer acts of violence and death. That is, perhaps, why W. H. Auden, the Anglo-American poet, writes, “We must love one another or die.” Thus, love preserves human civilization, preventing human beings from destroying each other and keeping the world from spiraling out of control, going “insane.”
Without love, the world would not be humane, that is, a relatively safe, peaceful, inhabitable place, which is befitting of human beings. Thus, where there is love between human beings, God is somehow present in that relationship, for “God is love.”
Indeed, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is right: “The salvation of man is through love and in love.”1 That is to say, only love can save the world, because love has the healing power to produce inner harmony, peace within a person, and outer harmony, peace between human beings that are members of a particular society.
It is, then, not natural for human beings to hate each other. Rather, it is abnormal, a moral “sickness,” a psychological aberration, which can only be healed by choosing its moral opposite, namely, love. As Nelson Mandela rightly observes,
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”2
1. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 3rd ed. (New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 49. Italics are the publisher’s.
2. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (New York, N.Y.: Little, Brown and Company, 1995), p. 622.