Monday, March 16, 2009

Love is an Active Thing

There was a great interview with Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, on Issues Etc. back on March 4. There was much in that interview, but what struck me was a quote from Augustine.

Gagnon pointed out that someone opposing his point of view and arguing for a more open point of view towards homosexual practice was quoting Augustine as saying "Love, and do what you want." However, Augustine uses this quote in the immediate context of rejecting homosexual behavior, and in fact shows the need for us as Christians to speak up and be more active in rejecting all immoral behavior. True love for the neighbor must not be lazy and let the neighbor do whatever, but must be active in helping that neighbor be what God wants him to be.

Here is more from Augustine: "If any of you perhaps wish to maintain love, brethren, above all things do not imagine it to be an abject and sluggish thing; nor that love is to be preserved by a sort of gentleness, nay not gentleness, but tameness and listlessness. Not so is it preserved. Do not imagine that . . . you then love your son when you do not give him discipline, or that you then love your neighbor when you do not rebuke him. This is not love, but mere feebleness. Let love be fervent to correct, to amend. . . . Love not in the person his error, but the person; for the person God made, the error the person himself made."

That's sometimes hard to live out. It is so much easier to say nothing. But that's not real love, either. I'm not sure who coined the phrase, "Hate the sin and love the sinner," but this quote from Augustine comes awfully close.


Julie said...

Augustine's quote is so simple yet profound. We get these things mixed up so easily. Thank you for your needed thoughts, Rob.

Reepicheep said...

What is the reference for the Augustine quote? Thank you. Gene Maddox

Rev. Robert Franck said...

I quoted from Augustine's Homilies on 1 John, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, volume 7, page 505, paragraph 11. It's from Homily 7 on 1 John 4:4-12. The language in that translation is pretty antiquated, and I had updated it a little in my quotation. The earlier quote that had been misconstrued was from the previous page, paragraph 8.