In a world where moral standards twist like a roller coaster ride — where left is right, up is down, in is out, good is bad and bad is good — you may want to brace yourself. Anything is possible. Some people say the government cannot legislate love. Others believe it can.
Although this question is raised primarily when it comes to same-sex relationships, it is also raised in discussions for legalizing underage marriages, forbidding office romance and allowing expectant mothers to abort unwanted children.
Some say you cannot legislate love. What do you think? Can you? Well, think about this: God commanded the Nation of Israel to love Him with their whole heart, soul and strength at Deuteronomy 6:5. Would this be a case of legislating love? Before you answer, consider Leviticus 19:18 where God also commanded, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” — New International Version.
In verse 33 God also said, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.”
Is this legislating love? What if you did not feel like loving your neighbor? What if you wanted to hold a grudge? God’s law was not optional. It was mandatory. To be in a covenant relationship with Jehovah, God’s people had to comply. They were forced to work on their love for others and there were consequences for violators.
When Jesus Christ was asked which is the greatest commandment, he quoted whole-souled love for God as the greatest command and love of neighbor as the second greatest. These were not suggestions. They were commands. He went on to say at John 15:17, “This is my command: Love each other.” — New Living Translation.
Command? It seems so. It is clearly the decree of the Lord Jesus that all subjects of God’s kingdom love each other. More than that, in the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 5:44-47, Jesus commanded: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you?” — Good News Translation.
That is an excellent question. Why should God reward us if we love only the people who love us? Aren’t Christians taught a higher form of love — God’s love? To be in a close relationship with our heavenly Father, we are told to force ourselves to love those different from us. This is indicated in the words of 1John 4:20-21, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” — English Standard Version.
Romans 13:8 says, “Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law.” — Common English Bible. Would God command us to do something we could not do? Is this law of love too much to ask of us? You decide. But millions of true Christians are showing genuine love to people of all races and nationalities, regardless of their social or sexual background, because this is what God is asking them to do. Granted, this may not be easy for some who must work through a lifetime of prejudice, bitterness and hate. But it can be done.
I remember a time when children fought and their parents made them kiss and make up. Do you? They may have cried while they hugged or shook hands, but they did it. My parents made us say we were sorry and would not tolerate us not speaking or holding a grudge. Were they legislating love? Perhaps. Governments can never legislate the kind of love encouraged in the Bible. This love comes from the heart, out of love for God. That is our choice. But it is never too late to learn how to love others.
Who knows how governments will ultimately settle the issues surrounding same-sex marriages and other matters some feel are equivalent to trying to legislate love? I certainly don’t. What the world does will not make or break what Christians do since they are not of this world, as Jesus said at John 17:16. The advice given at 1Thessalonians 4:11 to “mind your own business,” seems especially appropriate in this case.
I believe all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Nevertheless, if we do not force ourselves to live up to our potential to love one another freely from the heart, it appears much more than a wonderful piece of legislation has failed to pass.
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