Our metal refrigerator is covered with wonderful and colorful magnets. Many remind of us special places we’ve visited or a meaningful saying we enjoy remembering. Yesterday as I was making a hot drink, my eyes caught a saying Carolyn and I share often but don’t always think about its complexity, broadness, and meanings.
It reads: “LOVE ISN’T LOVE UNTIL YOU GIVE IT AWAY!”
Easy to say, but how easy is it to do? As parents and families exploring and experiencing our LGBTQ+ worlds, the act of “love or loving” each other can include many feelings and challenges. So let’s explore love and loving and being loved in more detail.
As Christians, we comfortably turn to the bible where the word “love” can be found over 1,400 times. Every book and many verses in each book contain the term “love.” We find it has many meanings and many interpretations.
It can be “eros” or erotic, normally focusing on physical appearances and behaviors. Someone or something is “loved” because of how they look or touch you—an attractive outfit or a gentle warm caress.
Next is “phileo” or brotherly love, based on common interests or bonds. Maybe you “love” to hike together or attend concerts together. You all feel comfortable and happy to be together and enjoy an activity or food or great times together.
Finally, there is “agape” or unconditional love, times when you love someone or something for the sake of making the other person happy because you truly want the best for them and you have no intentions of receiving love back.
Let’s return to the Bible and review the most detailed and thorough “description” of love that Paul shared with his Corinth church. He weaves many strands of eros, phileo and agape love—
If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
As you review Paul’s words, ask yourself if you have ever spoken or shared your understandings and knowledge—donated or supported meaningful activities for personal attention or gratification without love—then you have experienced what Paul was highlighting to his church members.
Then he summarizes “love” as he experienced Jesus’ loving words and actions—he wrote these powerful and valuable words—
Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
How do you feel when you consider “love is patient, kind, does not act improperly, does not keep records of wrongs,” instead “it rejoices in the truth, believes all things, hopes and endures all things,” and finally “LOVE NEVER ENDS!”
As parents and families to our own LGBTQ+ family members, we need to remember Paul’s statements about loving, understanding, and accepting. Yes, it can be difficult to be patient when we hear negative comments and feel harmful words about our loved ones; but Paul urges us to act properly and not judge our family members.
He urged his Corinthian friends to rejoice in the truth, which today also includes scientific and developing psychological knowledge about all of our genders and sexual behaviors. That may require being flexible in what you’ve been taught and believe. Ellen White wrote many years ago that “knowledge was God’s tool to help us understand today’s world”—a very meaningful statement in her time.
Yes, family love can help us bear up during difficult times, help us understand and share with each other as we learn and adjust our thoughts and feelings, help us enrich our beliefs and endure moments of stress and discomfort, and finally “TRUE LOVE NEVER ENDS.”
So moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other family and friends, do your best to love and accept like Paul shared many years ago. Sure, sometimes it’s more difficult than others; sometimes the way forward looks dark and confusing. Carolyn and I have experienced many feelings and difficulties as we adjusted—accepted and loved our gay son Aric.
Looking back, we are so grateful that our pastor shared Jesus’ love with us and Aric. Many of our church friends loved our son, and our Kinship families and friends community connected with us and journeyed beside us as we all discovered God’s real world of feelings and acceptance.
Remember, Jesus never looked the other way, and neither should we. He gave us the gift of love and encouraged us to give it away to those around us—our own families—every member!
LOVE ISN’T LOVE UNTIL YOU SHARE IT AND GIVE IT AWAY!