Free range love is wrong path

Lorraine Murray
Lorraine Murray

When we hear messages in church about loving our neighbors, it’s tempting to remember the Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love.” But what kind of love are we talking about?

Love is indeed crucial, because Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” But his definition entailed a willingness to sacrifice for others, even to the point of death.

Sermons that don’t clearly define terms could lead some folks to envision an anything-goes love — a far cry from the Christian message.

When Jesus saw people about to stone a woman caught in adultery, he rescued her — but he didn’t excuse her actions. Instead, he said, “Go and sin no more.” After all, adultery was a sin and Jesus called it like he saw it.

Meeting a Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus told her to get her husband, but she replied she didn’t have one. Aware that she’d been married five times — and the man she was living with wasn’t her husband — he clearly disapproved.

However, if “All You Need Is Love” becomes a Christian mantra, why couldn’t a husband mistakenly justify an extramarital affair? Why couldn’t a teenager wrongly conclude sex with her boyfriend is fine?

Responsible parents teach children that some feel-good things are wrong. It might feel good for Johnny to smack his little brother, but a dutiful parent forbids such actions. And the child without boundaries, who can eat what he wants and watch as much TV as he desires, gets the message that mom and dad don’t care enough to curb him.

We’re living in the post sexual-revolution years, during which “free love” became the motto. The freedom part meant rules, boundaries and commitment were tossed out. As pleasure became the supreme goal, standards of right and wrong dissolved — and free-range sex became so commonplace, it’s considered normal today.

Sadly, most romantic movies show people having sex on the first date. And when a man gets serious about a woman, he doesn’t buy a ring and propose, but instead takes the easy way out by asking her to live with him. The woman is portrayed as thrilled, even though the underlying message is he doesn’t love her enough to make a lifelong commitment.

The marriage vows convey an inherently sacrificial love, the kind Jesus talked about. Staying with someone through sickness and health, and through hard economic times requires unselfishness.

We witness such love when we see a wife tending to a husband with dementia or a husband working two jobs for his family. We see this love when parents dote on their handicapped child.

But someone might protest, “What’s in it for me? Why stay with someone who’s ill?” We discover the answer by looking at the cross, where we see the man who sacrificed everything out of love for the world.

Nothing is in it for those who live only for themselves, but those committed to God find joy in the sacrificial path. “Greater love than this no man has, than that he lay down his life for his friends” is a crucial quotation for sermons about love.

Truly Christlike love comes with rules and boundaries, and sacrifices and suffering. This love doesn’t make earthly life easier, but promises great joy in heaven.

Lorraine’s email address is

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