As a follower of Jesus, I’m all for love. I believe God so loved the world. I believe in loving my neighbor and my enemies. I believe love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I believe love never ends. I believe that, while hope, faith, and love abide, the greatest of these is love. I believe Jesus loves all the little children, including me.
What I don’t believe is that love wins.
To say that love wins is to turn loving into a zero-sum game. When winners are declared, losers are named. If lovers label haters as losers, has love won anything besides bragging rights to having won?
Christian ethicist Beverly Harrison described love as “the power to act each other into wellbeing.” When we talk about love at the church I pastor, that’s how we describe it. It reminds us that love isn’t just a nice word that makes us feel all warm and gooey inside. Rather, love is best grasped in action, in action single-mindedly focused on the wellbeing of the beloved.
I’m having trouble seeing how making losers of haters contributes to their wellbeing. If love actively engages in diminishing another, can it be said to have won? Can it even be said to be love?
I get where the “Love Wins” and “Love Trumps Hate” folks are coming from. It’s a call to remember what Abraham Lincoln called our “better angels.” The protest signs, no doubt, are birthed out of a desire to reduce hateful speech and actions and to “speak truth to power.”
I wonder, though, if their (our) aim might be better advanced by changing the phrase to “Love transforms.” “Love transforms hate.”
If love seeks to transform hate, might not that come closer to reducing the amount of hatred in the world? If lovers seek to act haters into wellbeing, might not that simultaneously reduce the number of haters and increase the number of lovers in the world? Might not the best way to reduce the hatred of haters be for lovers to love everyone always?