love is all you needWhy I Believe In God, Not Love

Is love all you need? We live in a time when many offer “love” as the solution for every problem. Consider What the World Needs Now Is Love By The Chambers Brothers, for example.

What did Jesus intend when He used the word “love”? What would He have thought of that song?


What motivated this post? On the post OF TWISTED WORDS => LANGUAGE TO DIVIDE AND TO CONQUER, tsalmon took the debate in an unexpected direction. Apparently, he decided that that post was broken and could be repaired with an infusion of love. When Keith DeHavelle, expressed sadness (here), I decided I might be pressing on a sensitive nerve a bit too carelessly. So here is a more careful explanation of why I believe in God, not love.

Humility And Christian Love

The ancient pagans did not consider humility a virtue. The royal class fashioned itself nearer to the gods than the subordinate classes. The king presented himself as the son of a god or as a god in his own right. Why would a king exhibit humility before cattle? What would possess the son of a god to love cattle? Why would the nobility, the friends of the king love cattle?

Jesus initiated a change. In his book, Who Is This Man?, John Ortberg examines the effect Jesus’ life has had upon our world. Because we are so immersed in our own culture and the changes instituted by Jesus, few American Christians appreciate the magnitude of the differences between our culture and that of the ancients. Jesus actually taught us to see each other differently. He taught us to love differently.

Jesus demonstrated God shows no partiality. Here the Apostle Paul put it explicitly.

Galatians 3:28 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

How did Jesus teach us to love each other? I wrote a series of three posts (that ended here, A BIBLE STUDY: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSE TO LOVE EVERYONE THE SAME WAY? — PART 3) that consider what the Bible has to say about love. Unlike us, the ancients had different words for different types of love. The second post describes agape love.

agape – the deepest, greatest form of love, it is sacrificial and unconditional, used in the Bible

(from here)

Jesus taught that Christians should strive to love even their enemies. We must care about everyone, even people we don’t like.  We must strive to lead all our brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ, not just certain people.

John 1:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus taught there is only one God, and we that we can all be His children. He made it clear that because Our Lord cares for each of us even kings should love and care for their people.

Matthew 23:11-12 English Standard Version (ESV)

11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Christian love, then, begins in humility to God.  That is true even in marriage. The Bible calls upon a husband to love his wife as Jesus loved the church, and it calls upon a wife to so conduct herself as to lead her husband to Christ.


Imagine life as slave, a drudge tied to the land. Imagine living a seemingly pointless life, existing to do nothing more than to labor for an uncaring lord. Jesus spoke to the hopeless. He said God loves us. He even gave the slaves and the downtrodden the task of giving His message to — and saving — those who sought to be their masters. Before any sought to free the bodies of the enslaved, Jesus freed their hearts to love.

Why is it important to God that we love Him?

1 John 4:20-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

We learn to love God by loving each other, and we strive to be obedient to God because we love Him.

No one knows the mind of God. We only know that the Bible speaks of Him as our Father and of us as His children. Children obey their father and mother to pleased them because they love them. Parents receive the love and obedience of their children with pleasure. Does God, our Father, receive our love and obedience, our worship, with pleasure? Apparently, He does.

Warping The Message Of Love

What has happened to that once great message of Christian love? Doesn’t it still exist? Don’t we fill the air with love songs? Don’t our books, our movies, even our comics all revolve around love’s glories and tragedies? Don’t each of us crave love relationships? Yes, but the problem is that we have made an idol of love. Christians do not love “love”. What Christians love is God.

Love is only one of many virtues. Consider how many virtues Ben Franklin strove to acquire (BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ON PRIDE AND HUMILITY). Franklin did not even put “love” on his list. Perhaps he understood that to love properly he to have all those other virtues.

Love enables us to care for each other. Love enables us to worship God, but love is a means, not an object in and of itself. When the Apostle Paul spoke of love in 1 Corinthians 13, he spoke of love as the greatest of the virtues, the most desirable gift. And he did so in an age when men sought to be honored, not to serve. When we love someone, we desire to serve them.

When Apostle Paul spoke of love, he did not propose that we seek only the gift of love. He said we should seek all the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-26 New King James Version (NKJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

What is love worth if we find no joy in it? Without peace within ourselves, can we love another? If we are unwilling to suffer the faults of another, can we love them? If we don’t know how to be kind, how do we show our love? If we don’t know the difference between good and evil — if we don’t have the wisdom to discern the difference, won’t our service others be corrupt? If we are unfaithful won’t our service to others be inconstant? If we cannot control our self — if we are rough and harsh — how can we serve another without hurting them?

God is the sum of all virtue. He is Perfect and Holy. When we focus on Him and seek to be like His Son, we seek all the fruits of the Spirit, not just Love. Only then can we perfect our love.


In Deuteronomy 5, the Bible recapitulates the Ten Commandments. In Deuteronomy 6, the Bible explains that if we love God we will obey Him.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Good News Translation (GNT)

“Israel, remember this! The Lord—and the Lord alone—is our God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

So it is that when we love each other we begin to learn how to worship God.

That’s why I believe in God, not love.


Continued: How the Idolization of Love Corrupts Church and State


  1. Hmmm, well first of all toss out all cultural definitions of “love,” because we know those are going to be distortions, perversions. Today we “love” our lattes, kittens, Hallmark cards, romance, and glitter. Obviously we do not actually “love” these things. When I was a kid we used to say, “if you love that book so much, why don’t you just marry it?” It used to be a bit of a joke. Everyone understood we were using “love” in the wrong context. I’m not so sure we understand that anymore.

    Second, I think there’s some real boy-girl differences in how we perceive love. It can be kind of charming and funny and I expect exactly how God intended it to be. The true definition of love is probably somewhere in between the male/female perception of love. I sometimes say men are such verbs, as in they are all about the action, no pun intended. So for men love is more akin to service, obedience, sacrifice, things you actively do to demonstrate your love. Women are more like nouns, love is a state of being, it is the condition of one’s heart, it is emotion and feelings. This is why we sometimes have men who say things like, “of course I love her, I go to work everyday.” Technically correct, but emotionally non responsive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @insanitybytes22

      Given our preoccupation with love, the fact we have only one word for it is quite peculiar. The closest word is “like”, and “like” is explicitly not “love”. Has Satan prevented us for creating more words to describe “love”? Could be, I suppose, but who knows?

      This is why we sometimes have men who say things like, “of course I love her, I go to work everyday.” Technically correct, but emotionally non responsive.

      I fear my lady thinks me all too technically correct.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t go to the links that precipitated your post. Found you from IB. The definition of Love became very important to me after I divorced the man God gave me to be my husband, Bill. I fell into the trap of bad mouthing husbands. I became cynical – there is no such thing as love-our culture cheapens the word. But then I discovered God is Love, 1 John in numerous places. And then I learned how the Greeks used various other words to describe what we Americans call Love: agape, eros, epithumia, storge, and phileo. Once my husband grasped these meanings, HE changed and then 1 Corinthians began his “how to” show me he loved me…..while I simply asked God, just love Bill thru me. I just couldn’t love him after I hated him enough to divorce him. And God’s pure love began to flow between us.
    Such good news! God did a major overhaul in my life and my husbands – we remarried. We’re hitting 42 years, with a year break. You can read about my quest to understand marital love here:
    Now I’ll go look at your links. I just always have to share our testimony….

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I guess it’s a bit off your actual premise, but I can’t have love without God! I love God WAY more than “love.” I get that….It’s because of Him I can not only love my husband, but also every annoying neighbor He puts in my path to test my love. I’m constantly saying, God love him or her through me…..

        Liked by 1 person



    1. You began, rather loudly, by describing that in ancient times a non-theist could never know why or how to experience true love.

      At what point did this change … or do you think that it never has?

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Keith

        I think you know that scatterwisdom respects you.

        There is an unfortunate fact. When we commit a sin and refuse to repent, our hearts betray us. Our heart refuses to acknowledge God sees what we have done, and He knows what we have done.

        Check out Psalms 14 and 53. Consider how the Apostle Paul quotes portions of these psalms in Romans 3:9-20.

        The fool is the one who persist in what he knows is wrong, justifying himself in that belief that there is no God. That is not non-theism. That is not atheism. That capacity for self-delusion is evil.


        1. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

          There is an unfortunate fact. When we commit a sin and refuse to repent, our hearts betray us. Our heart refuses to acknowledge God sees what we have done, and He knows what we have done.

          That’s an issue: I do not believe that there is a God at all, let alone one who keeps track of every action and thought of every human on the planet.

          The fool is the one who persist in what he knows is wrong, justifying himself in that belief that there is no God. That is not non-theism. That is not atheism. That capacity for self-delusion is evil.

          I don’t know exactly what “justifying” myself would look like, but I think that this paragraph pretty much casts me as evil. Except that I don’t know that my position is wrong; I just clearly recognize it as being quite different from yours.

          This all started when you stated that you believed in God, and did not believe in love. I don’t know about the “believe in” part, but I had a love that evidently very few people have been privileged to experience.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        2. @Keith

          Have you made “love” a substitute for God? I seriously doubt it.

          When you do something you know is wrong, do you hide behind your non-theism? Or does your conscience still plague you. Some quell their conscience by denying God exists. You? I don’t think so. Is that not something that would shame you further still?

          I don’t know what you worship, what you have given your life to, but that in effect is your god. How will God view what you have made your purpose in life? What will He make of your non-theism? I don’t know, and it is not my place to judge.

          It is not my place to judge anyone. Here I just blog about politics and religion. I offer my opinions. I sometimes praise behavior. I sometimes condemn behavior, but I try to avoid condemning people. I know too little to rightly do that, and I believe God will judge me as I judge others.

          Somewhere you learned to be sensitive to criticisms of non-theism. Why? How? I don’t know. I just know I was an agnostic for decades, and I never felt persecuted. In fact, I did a little persecuting. I am not proud of that.

          Everyone has a different experience.

          Part of that your experience involved sharing your life with a woman you loved. Should you cherish those memories? Of course? I just think that when two become one such a relationship involves much much more than love.

          Whether you believe it or not, what you experienced was gift of God.


        3. @Citizen Tom, who wrote:

          Somewhere you learned to be sensitive to criticisms of non-theism. Why? How? I don’t know.

          Hardly. Atheists/non-theists/freethinkers are blasted all across the Internet and in print. The only time I find it worthwhile to question is when the criticism is coming from someone I value as a friend.

          You continue to assume that I “worship” something. Perhaps the closest to this was my Lady Anne, while she lived. But the characteristics of this devotion do not match up to “worship” in the sense you mean.

          I try to follow a two-ruled plan, but do so only imperfectly:
          1. Do what’s right.
          2. Continually refine your understanding of “what’s right.”

          Part of this, as I now understand it, is from the medical profession: “First, do no harm.” This is closely related to the libertarian policy called the non-aggression principle that could be said to sum up the entire philosophy of libertarianism: “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.” Not an elegant exposé, perhaps, but it seems a good starting point.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        4. @Keith

          When we were growing up there was this thing that some people had to do. They would say: “I have to find myself.” It became something of a joke, but there was and is an element of truth. None of us has perfect knowledge of our self.

          Hence, I don’t have any criticism of what you said in your comment, but I must observe that what you have offered is only the first layer.

          When we examine ourselves to determine what motivates us, we must answer the question “why” over and over again. We must answer our self with childlike honesty. Only then do we understand what we care most about.

          Thank you for valuing me a friend.


  4. I went through all of this and don’t see where you’re addressing the issue square-on.

    There are pieces: “When we focus on Him and seek to be like His Son, we seek all the fruits of the Spirit, not just Love. Only then can we perfect our love.” So any love I can experience is imperfect. And love is a virtue, but then becomes an “idol” worshiped by non-theists like me.

    All of this suggests that a love relationship between a non-theist and another person is automatically inferior to anyone’s relationship who is a Christian. Experience does not support this, to my mind.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I meant no slight. You either have faith or not. The choice is yours not mine. made my life better in my opinion. I highly recommend Christianity as a religion of choice and strength to help endure and find joy in our sometimes cruel world.

      Regards and good will blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @Keith

      I suppose that is a legitimate criticism. However, there is a second part to this thing.

      Meanwhile, please consider the possibility I don’t entirely understand your complaint. You have read the Bible. Of course Christians think that a man and a woman who love each other as Christians will have a love relationship superior to what they might have otherwise had. Is that a putdown on your relationship with your lady? No.

      You have probably seen me quote Romans 2: 12-16. Please read the passage.

      You may not believe in Jesus, but I think you strive to be honorable and virtuous. I think you also uphold Christian moral teachings. In addition to having a Christian upbringing, you have actually read the Bible and respect it.

      Consider the alternative. What if you had been raised in another culture with a different religious tradition? You don’t think that would have affected your relationship with your wife? You know better than that.


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