What Love Is — and What It Is Not

COMMENTARY: A minimalistic view of love robs the human heart of its excellence.

June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Jesus shows us how to love, for God is love.
June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Jesus shows us how to love, for God is love. (photo: Vivida Photo PC / Shutterstock)

This month, we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. We are told by our society, however, that this month is about pride. It’s not a reference to the chief of the seven deadly sins, but rather to the aggressive promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ways of life. The LGBTQ+ movement has claimed June for itself, as it claims that “love is love.”  

It is no small irony that the month claimed by this movement, and its incomplete and loose definition of love, is the very month in which we pause and honor the divine love of the Lord Jesus for every man and woman. 

It would seem, therefore, that we need to review what love is, what it is not, and how we can authentically receive and give love to others. 

The secular version of love assumed in the messaging of the LGBTQ+ movement is deceptive and has convinced many people, even Christian believers, to go along with its fallen agenda. Since we were made for love and cannot live complete lives without love, the argument is made that sexual love must be open to all and cannot have any restrictions imposed upon it. We are told that sexual love must be given free reign and is best expressed when there are no boundaries or limits. 

Regrettably, the world’s concept of love is seen as euphoria or emotional satisfaction as well as sexual gratification.

Such a minimalistic view of love robs the human heart of its excellence. It manipulates the heart to comply with lies. It blurs necessary distinctions and leads us into ways of life that lessen our capacity to truly love, care for others, and enjoy relationships of mutual selflessness and service. 

Breaking through the jargon, slogans and popular messaging of the LGBTQ+ movement, we can begin by making the simple statement: Love tells the truth. As truth guards our hearts and helps us to know reality and right from wrong, so the heart protects truth by acknowledging it, speaking it, sharing it, and seeking to order its power to love according to truth’s guidance. 

Love recognizes observable realities, such as two sexes given at birth and the beautiful complementarity between men and women. Love accepts its call to self-donation. It embraces the guidance of truth and understands its vocation to die to itself in service to the one who is loved. 

Love does not serve pleasure, but goodness. It seeks the good in the one who is loved and is willing to deny itself in order to allow the good in the other to grow and prosper. 

For the Christian, this universal truth is displayed in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The Lord loved us and so offered himself as a sacrifice for us, that the good in us might flourish even into eternal life. 

St. John teaches us this point in his First Letter:  

“We know love by this, that [Christ] laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” 

Truth directs love and matures it. In this way, boundaries and limits that are given to love are not hindrances to it. They are signposts and springboards to a deeper, authentic love. They caution love against selfishness and reorient any misdirection to nobility and moral goodness. 

As spiritual wisdom teaches us, the emotions are magnetic and energizing. They are great servants, but terrible masters. Truth helps to keep our emotions in check, therefore, and gives them the space to germinate and inspire true love and wholesome affection. 

Rather than pride, love always chooses humility. Made in the image of God, we have the spiritual power to love others as God loves us. Such a love is willing to wash feet, be among the poor, kiss lepers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, generously give mercy, teach the uneducated, admonish the sinner, and suffer for the sake of righteousness. 

As St. Paul teaches us in his First Letter to the Corinthians:  

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 

As we walk through the month of June, we can give witness to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord by welcoming his love in our hearts and kindly sharing that love with others. In contrast to the propaganda of “Pride Month,” we can take pride in the example our Lord Jesus Christ gave us and show the world what true and authentic love and relationships look like by our efforts to embrace humility, honor moral goodness, discard quarrelsome spirits, and selflessly serve and care for those around us.