Monday, March 16, 2009

Love: Emotion? Or Not? ~from a contributing writer~

What follows was submitted to me from a contributor to this blog:

One old Armstrong view hallowed within the old WCG was the definition of love as: an outgoing concern, not an emotion. According to this definition, it is not those mushy, sweet feelings and sentimental appreciation of attributes.
Again: Love is outgoing concern, it is not an emotion, say the Armstrong protagonists, parroting their esteemed paragon of all wisdom and virtue.
The word concern means something that is of interest, or something or someone that we may worry for the welfare of. Trying to avoid the idea that love involves emotion is really difficult, as worry is emotional, and to simply like someone is emotional. If love is concern, then for what shall we be concerned for about God? 

Love of country evokes the emotion of pride in consideration of the qualities that we appreciate. To hold the qualities that we love in high esteem is intricately woven of memories that give us pleasure with the certainty of conviction that the object of our affection is true and not an illusion, which is to say, we believe in the nation, person, people or idea.

We can love evil because we appreciate evil, and there is no room for concern in evil. Those who love the Lord Jesus feel their hearts swell with pride and gratitude, being convinced of His goodness and His belief in our eventual completion, as also good and beautiful, in His likeness.

The idea that we love God because He first loved us is exactly like the love of a child for a parent who first loves the child, seeing what the child will become; seeing past the stinking diapers and temper tantrums of the moment; appreciating and esteeming what will be.

Jesus asked the question; who will love his lord more? One who is forgiven little, or one who is forgiven much? The answer, of course, being: One who is forgiven much.

This draws a direct correlation between gratitude and love. Gratitude is a very emotional sentiment. Actually, it is an emotion.
How then is love not an emotion?

Love is not an act, it precipitates the act. In the same way, faith is not an act, it preciptates the act.


Much thanks to the author. This is something, I believe, that has needed to be addressed for some time.

We hear Ron Weinland repeatedly state that love is not an emotion, but an act. We've heard him mock the things that make love what it actually is, anything beyond their dry, clinical definition.

Can you bear the thought of a child being raised in a home devoid of sweet, syrupy, mushy love? I would hate to see the damaged, dry person they would likely grow into. How is that child supposed to feel loved, to feel a bond with his/her parents? How are they to learn how to show love to others, to their future spouse and children?

How can love not be an emotion? The idea is absurd. OWCG worked to kill emotion and thus kill love. Too kill love is to kill relationships, and relationships are the most important thing, particularly our relationship with God.

I grew up in OWCG & it was the coldest church I ever walked into, unlike the churches of my chilhood friends, (yes, I actually attended some). Talk about feeling accepted, and being warmly welcomed! Wow! Didn't experience that at my church. Growing up, OWCG for me was more like school; full of clicks and people who acted like you didn't exist if they didn't esteem you as an equal.
I believe the reason Armstronists hold to this definition is simply to discredit the "worldly churches" because they are so loving!  Anything the "worldy churches" do, must be discredited. In their minds, there must be nothing about them that can appear as good, and the Armsrongist churches must resemble them in no way.

So I ask:
If love is not an emotion, then why did the Father turn away at the time of Jesus' death on the cross, if not for the emotions that the death of a child evokes in a parent?


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on my current understanding. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.


technosensei said...

If love is what the Armstrongists say it is, then where is their love? It's not an emotion, but an act? If that's true, then they do not love.

Jesus said "love your enemy" but they have forbidden generous acts to anyone not in their specific corporate organization - Armstrongist and non-Armstrongist alike. The corporate organizations bite and devour each other. Anyone in "the world" is given up for dead in the Tribulation ahead of time. Anyone who leaves the church is disfellowshipped and utterly condemned. All they have to do is love and they have fulfilled the law. Instead I see no love at all.

That leaves the people within a specific corporate organization. If you only love those who love you, what good is it? And if anything holds true, it is that legalists only tolerate those they approve of. They would, nearly each one of them, abandon their own family. Since that's the case, people hide who they are from each other so they won't be looked down on. With all the condemnation that goes on, can good water come from those bitter fountains? Not likely.

Is it an emotion? That is a large part of it. Love is not cold. It obviously includes the heart, mind, and soul. There is kind affection in brotherly love. But is it purely an emotional thing? Not really. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Even so, I think action is a natural result of love - not the love itself. But it's important to allow love to motivate you to action. (by "action" I include such things as forgiveness)

Anonymous said...

Also something to keep in mind, Armstrong may have been using the word concern in the same sense that the Quakers use it; after all, his background and upbringing was in the Holiness Quakers movement at the end of the nineteenth century.

In their view a "concern" is a problem or an issue that needs to be addressed, looked after, taken care of (as in expedited, not as in "cared FOR"), etcetera. In other words, conditional.

Are we surprised? Didn't think so.

As for "love being a fruit of the Spirit", I know this is a Christian blog, but I think atheists and agnostics are perfectly capable of demonstrating and feeling love too, and they "don't have the Spirit". I know you guys know that, but I thought I would point it out for your readers. :-)

(And yes, I remember quite vividly the sermon wherein we were instructed to only have agape for each other, not for PCG members. That was before Spanky split off.)

Seeker Of Truth said...

Is love purely emotional? No. It encompases much but, it takes love to incite the action that speaks of the love. Is there no emotion in that action?

Emotions are strong feelings; love, hate, happiness, sadness, joy, anger, fear, anxiety, adoration, angst, annoyance, dread, horror, rage, exhilaration, adoration. All things we feel. Without feelings, what are we?

Armstongist say that even a mothers love for her child is selfish...

Truly, no human has a 'pure' love. We are selfish by nature, but any mentally healthy parent would lay down their life for their child, and Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.

Love is intellectual. Love is emotion.

Seeker Of Truth said...


Good point about the Quaker/concern view.
I agree with you, atheists and agnostics are quite capable of loving and demonstrating love for others.

Do puppies feel love? 'Cuz I'm pretty sure mine love me. ; )

technosensei said...


I could say "there are many forms of love". I could say "love is natural to mankind". Both are true. But does either really resolve the issue? I don't know.

The Bible says "love is a fruit of the Spirit". I didn't imply, nor do I think the Bible implies, that any and all forms of love are a fruit of the Spirit and only those with the Spirit can have them.

So, what then? What is a "fruit of the Spirit"? Is it a quality? A quantity? A form? I only have a cursory understanding at this point. I will have to review it again, since all that I could say is no doubt colored by Armstrongism. I think it would be good for us here to go over the topic.

Seeker Of Truth said...

This is good, people. I can appreciate a good, quality, debate that compells us to look further, or into places we may not have thought to examine.

Anonymous said...

Love is complex, difficult to quantify, and can be expressed in a variety of ways, and to varying degrees.

I do believe there needs to be an emotional component or investment in order for love to be expressed in its most extreme form, iow the form in which most of us would find it to be of value.

I also believe that, like other fruits of the Holy Spirit, it can be faked. Like other truths, it can also be distorted or redefined. Self love, or self-interest would be the main factors which would cause people to indulge in such distortion.

Probably the best biblical standards for love are typified in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, His parable of the prodigal son, and Paul's writings in I Cor. 13.

I never found much love during my tenure in WCG, either in myself or in others. There was just blind adherence to law and ritual in most cases. I'm sure that quite by accident, there were some individual Christians who had and expressed love, but in spite of us calling ourselves "Philadelphians" love was not the defining characteristic of classic WCG.