I love my wife.
But sometimes, I don’t tell her enough. Or I don’t communicate it in a way that she can receive it.
That’s not her fault. It’s my fault for presuming that she should just feel loved because she’s married to me.
In the last couple of weeks, a couple of news stories have caught my attention. One is national news (at least in Christian circles), the Strange Fire conference, led by John MacArthur. The other was local news in my town. A couple of restaurant patrons, in lieu of a tip, wrote a “loving” message to their server, whom they assumed was homosexual. (You can see where this is going already. Be warned, there are slurs quoted below.)
And although both events seem as if they have nothing in common, they have a common thread. The perpetrators invoked “love” as their motivation.
It seems that “love” really does cover a multitude of sins, at least if you tell everyone that’s your motivation. But these two examples prove, once again, how good Christians can be at using the word “love” in vain, and both can teach us something about what it means to truly love others.
Strange Fire, Strange Love Language
Let’s start with MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference because more of us are probably familiar with the event. If you don’t know, John MacArthur spent an entire weekend “proving” the Charismatic movement is a cult, made up of non-Christians. And of course, he had reams of Bible verses to prove his points.
Longtime readers will know that I have never spoken in tongues, healed anyone or prophesied in the charismatic sense of the word. I am a proud member of the “frozen chosen.” Yet, spending an entire weekend conference on saying that 500 million people are going to hell sounds like an incredibly silly, petty, ridiculous waste of time.
Now, MacArthur responded to the criticism that it all sounded “hateful” and “divisive” by playing this old card:
“The most loving thing you can do for someone is tell them the truth.”
Of course, he also said that his book (which the whole conference was intended to promote) is “for the church” and since Charismatics are not part of the church, it would not benefit them. They presumably would not be able to understand his superior Bible exegesis because they have been brainwashed. So is he telling Charismatics the truth or not?
That question is moot. It simply means that MacArthur gets to have it both ways. He gets to say that Charismatics will not benefit from his book because they are brainwashed. But he gets to cover his tracks by saying this is all done in “love” because he’s telling Charismatics the truth.
In this case, the medium really is the message.
Here’s A Tip For You
Last week, it was reported in my town that two restaurant patrons chose not to leave a tip for the young man who served them dinner. Instead, they left a note, partially quoted here:
“Thank you for your service; it was excellent. However, we cannot in good conscience tip you because your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God. Faggots will not share God’s wealth and you will not share in ours. It is never too late for God’s love, but people will not be spared for their fag choices…”
Again, it amazes me how the “Christian” perpetrators cover their tracks by casually invoking “love” in their message. Apparently, you can call someone a faggot, threaten them with burning in hell, steal money from them (since the server has to divide tips and sales with other restaurant staff), but invoke God’s love to cover your tracks.
There are so many things wrong with this scenario. How did they know their server was gay anyway? Did he tell them his name, the specials, and his sexual history? In what universe is this acceptable?
Again, the medium is the message. Writing “love” on the back of a receipt between gay slurs is not “love.”
Why Don’t You Know I Love You?
I know that “The Five Love Languages” are not a scientific psychological tool. But they are pretty accurate and easy to remember.
Funny thing, I don’t think anyone’s love language is weekend-long conference where you are called a brainwashed heretic.
I also don’t remember being left a slur-ridden, insulting note instead of money being on the list.
Let this be a reminder to all of us, because these are extreme examples. I am among the worst at thinking that how I show love should be interpreted correctly by the people around me. It’s actually my responsibility to ensure that my communication of love is clear and received by people. I can’t just call it “love” and cover my tracks after doing whatever I desire. Love is not lazy, friends.
What do you think? About Strange Fire, about the “tip” at the restaurant, about our where our responsibility begins and ends to let people know we love them?