Love is Love?

I’ve been seeing this phrase a lot lately  “Love is love” has been used for years to mean something like, “Romantic love between any two individuals is equally valid and beautiful.”  It’s been a popular slogan for some time, generally used to express support for those in homosexual or other non-traditional relationships.  When brilliant composer Lin-Manuel Miranda won a Tony Award for best original score for Hamilton his acceptance speech was a poem with the line, “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love; / Cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Miranda was reacting to a mass shooting that killed dozens and appeared to be targeting homosexuals.  His sympathy and concern are certainly understandable.  

Surely, most who display “love is love” banners or frames have friends, family members, or other loved ones who identify as gay, bi-sexual, transgender, non-binary, or who in some other way are outside the pattern of traditional male/female identity or relationships.  A desire to love friends and family well and support them appropriately is certainly good and God honoring.

But should followers of Christ use the phrase “love is love”?  I believe the answer is clearly, “no.”  Let me suggest just two reasons.

First, “love is love” suggests that love is self-defining, that it cannot be qualified and simply is.  This would make love somehow self-existent and foundational – something like, “Love is what it is and you cannot question it.”  Love is certainly a primal and powerful reality.  But self-defining it is not.

Biblically speaking there is only one word that can be repeated with “is” in the middle – God.  Only He is self-defining, self-existent, unqualified, and beyond questioning.

Moses asked God to identify himself so he could tell the Israelites who sent him. “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13)

Do you remember God’s answer? God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14).  God uses phraseology similar to “love is love” to reveal his name, his character and power, to Moses.  Why?

Because unlike love, God is self-existent.  As eternal creator he is not derived.  He is not downstream from something else.  He exists independently from all other beings or causes. He is the original cause, the one to whom everyone and everything owes its existence – including love. Therefore everyone and everything is subject to God and defined by God.

 “God is God” is true because God is the independent, eternal creator and sovereign ruler of all things.  “Love is love” is untrue because love is dependent, derivative, and secondary.  Love must be defined.  And only God, as creator, has the right to do so.  Therefore, anyone who believes “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) should reject the phrase “love is love” on logical grounds.

There’s a second reason Christians shouldn’t accept or use the phrase “love is love.”  Very simply, the phrase is generally used to condone LGBT lifestyles.  But Scripture unequivocally condemns homosexuality.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9 – 10)

Notice, first, that homosexuality is not alone in this verse.  No persistent, unrepentant practitioner of ANY sin will inherit the kingdom of God.  One who makes a lifestyle of idolatry, greed, or cheating and never repents of their sin and trusts in Christ to forgive and deliver them is equally guilty before God.  Homosexuality does not render a person more guilty before God than other sins like heterosexual adultery or drunkenness (also on the list).

Notice, secondly, however, that homosexuality is included in this list of sins.  This means we can’t redefine homosexuality as something neutral or beautiful.  It is, along with everything else in this list, a sin – something contrary to God’s character.  Stealing (also on the list) is a sin.  It does not reflect God’s design for humanity.  Homosexuality is also sin.  It does not reflect God’s design for humanity.

So to use the phrase “love is love”, knowing that it is generally used to promote and celebrate LGBT experience, is to call good what God has called bad, to justify what God judges, to affirm what God abhors.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20)!

The writer of Proverbs declares, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 17:15).  Those who condone what God condemns are openly opposing God’s right to rule His creation and Isaiah warns them in strong terms.  Proverbs says God abominates both those who justify the wicked and those who condemn the righteous.  Both are happening as a matter of course today.  

Frankly, according to Malachi, God is tired of it. “You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them’” (Malachi 2:17).  God grows weary of those who claim that He delights in that which he openly denounces.  This includes homosexuality (Genesis 19, Romans 1:26 – 27, 1 Timothy 1:10).

So the second reason I believe Christians should reject the phrase “love is love” is because the phrase is used to affirm homosexuality which God calls sin in Scripture.  And in at least these three passages of Scripture we are strictly warned not to call good what God calls bad.

Many believe, very sincerely, that 2000 years of church history has been consistently wrong on the issue of homosexuality.  They believe a new method of interpretation is required for a new, enlightened era – a method of interpretation that outright rejects or otherwise redefines all of Scripture’s prohibitions of homosexuality.  Those who claim this believe they have been enlightened.  Those walking in this “new light” need the gracious warning of Christ, “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness” (Luke 11:35).

But, if love isn’t just love then what is it?  The apostle John has a different three-word definition: God is love.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:15 – 17)

The staggering reality that “God is love” should stop all of us in our tracks.  As an act of love, true love, God sent His Son to die in the place of countless sinners – this is love!  God is love!  

God raised Him from the dead in eternal victory over sin, a day-by-day, practical, life-changing, sin-conquering, growing victory Christ shares with all who come to God through Him – this is love!  God is love!

The absolute best way for you to love those in your life who openly embrace any sin, those who do not yet know Christ as Savior, and those who do but are struggling with temptation, is to point them to God and His love displayed in Christ. God is love.  And only in the greatest act of love, the sacrifice of Jesus for sinners, will those you love find true joy and peace and eternal life.

Ben Forbes