Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some Sort of Crazy Lover-Fighter Hybrid...

"I'm a lover, not a fighter." You have likely heard this phrase before: since its debut in the 1994 film "Little Rascals," it has become very popular indeed. Taken as a semi-witty justification of a lack of violence and/or violent acts originating from one's person, it's pretty alright. However, it can also be taken another way--as a philosophical statement pointing out a dichotomy (contrast or division between two things) between a "lover," presumably one who loves, and a "fighter," one who fights. Taken in this way, it is completely and utterly false.

This is apparent even from the movie which popularized the phrase. Alfalfa claims to be a lover, as opposed to a fighter, early on: by the end, he surely realizes the silliness of saying something like that as he finds himself fighting, yes, fighting, for the love of Darla. This is not mere semantics, mere wordplay. Being a fighter is a necessary part of being a lover. How can you claim to be a lover, yet deny being a fighter? How can you say you love something, yet in the same breath deny your willingness to fight for it? The statement is inherently nonsensical.

Enough Little Rascals. Let's talk God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..." God is the ultimate Lover. God invented love. Yet... "'Behold, I am against you,' declares the Lord of Hosts, 'and I will burn your chariots in smoke'" (Nahum 2:13). How about "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?" (Job 38:22-3). You might be tempted to polarize these statements, to say that one demonstrates the love of God and that the other two demonstrate the wrath of God: one shows the lover and the others show the fighter. Not true. God's love, as shown in the first verse, is not passive. It is moving and active, and the sending of his Son was nothing less than an act of war on Satan, the ruler of this world (John 12:31). In the same way, God's love is demonstrated in the second two verses: he fights for his chosen people, for his beloved. The lover and the fighter cannot be separated: he who truly loves must fight, or else his love is no love at all.

Now to us. Many people claim to love good, and they say that it is because they love good that they are unwilling to fight evil. These people separate love from fighting, and they separate "good" from fighting as well. This is a false dichotomy. One who does not fight evil cannot truly love good, for the love of good is the hatred of evil.

One last thing: do not think that I am saying that all fighting is good, or that fighting necessarily means physical violence (I think that it can, but that's not the point). It's clear that fighting and violence can be evil: but they are not, in and of themselves, opposed to love and good. That much is clear from Scripture, from both the Father's and Christ's actions. Be a lover and a fighter. Love what is good. Hate what is evil. And remember why the Bible is called a sword.

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