So last week I pulled a line from A Course in Miracles, which everyone should read, but as a New Ager I find truth in almost all of the world’s religions (I say almost all because generally speaking a belief like Satanism or anything that demands you submit your free will to some petty deity can hardly be called a religion that any sane or rational being would follow) I thought it best to pull a few thoughts to meditate on from a hodgepodge of different texts. This week I’ll go with something a little more familiar to modern American culture (no offense to my overseas readers intended).
“Love God and love they neighbor as yourself.” Not the exact wording of the biblical passage (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 6: Matthew 22:36 and Luke 10:27) but certainly the sentiment of those lines. It’s quoted a lot. Yet somehow, these verses which were selected out as the two most important commands in the WHOLE Bible seem to be understood very little.
Let’s take the first part. “Love God.” Nobody seems to get this. I’m sure you’re having a moment of shock at what I just said. But think about this. Have you ever heard someone very religious as a “God-fearing person?” You probably have. Odds are you’ve probably used some variant of it yourself at some point or another. Doesn’t that seem odd? When we go to put the fear of God into someone, isn’t that in direct violation, at least philosophically, of this command. Love God. Fear is the opposite of love. You can’t love what you fear. You can’t fear what you love. These are diametrically opposed ideas that should not have anything to do with one another. Granted humans often seem to have a bizarre comingling of these ideas in their lives—sometimes even disturbingly mistaking one for the other—but make no mistake they can’t rationally coexist. You can either fear God or love God. It’s one or the other. And since we’re commanded to love God, if this is a rational command, then there can be nothing to fear in God.
Run that idea through you head over and over again over the next week. Watch how ideas of original sin, purgatory and hell, divine punishment, wrath and vengeance and a million other negative human qualities that people have attributed to God seem less and less logical. If we are to love God how can there be anything to fear.
And the second part of that command “love your neighbor as yourself.” That second part gets dropped a lot. The self-hating, self-sacrificing, self-abasing portion of humanity has made much of love thy neighbor without including the second part. They’ve used it to justify hatred of money and success (a symbol of the work and innovation you have put into life), a hatred of comfort and leisure (acts of loving and caring for yourself), a hatred of the individual (because if you love an individual, any human individual, in their twisted logic it means you are stealing from the love that your neighbor seems to have some kind of right to) and a hatred of a host of other things we do for ourselves. (Notice these people who hate the best within us tend to be the God-fearing sort). The problem is that if you read the line it puts love of yourself on par with the love of everyone else. You=The Whole World. Yes be kind and loving to everyone you meet, but certainly not at the expense of yourself. Modern society has made the love of the self some kind of sin, but this makes no sense. If you are a child of god you must be loveable. After all if you aren’t why should anyone else be. The love of your neighbor is predicated on the love of yourself. So the question becomes are your own actions self-loving or self-hating? It’s important because you can’t love anyone else until you can love yourself.
Think about it for the next week….